Creating a High Performance Team and Accelerating Results

 In Coaching, Employee engagement, Employee Satisfaction, Leadership Development, Organizational Change, Rick Conlow

A high performance team is closer than you think.  Has your manager challenged you with bigger goals this next quarter? Do you want to better results with your team this year? Pay close attention and become a student of the game of leadership.

The High Performance Team Formula

Creating a High Performance Team and Accelerating ResultsHere is a simple but powerful model for creating a high performance: HP= CE (C+C+C). This High-Performance Team Formula is a roadmap to help you focus on leadership practices that matter. It evolved from working with over 100 companies in diverse settings and summarizing what the best managers did to outperform others. Let us get into it and define each part.

A Definition of a High Performance Team

This means exceeding your goals not just reaching them. It also means finding ways to become consistently better so your reach new heights. The best managers know that people who are “turned on” can achieve extraordinary results. They studiously facilitate the elements of the High-Performance Formula (whether they know the framework or not) to bring out the best in their teams.

Most importantly, how employees are treated determines if they go the extra mile, most people do not automatically do this. If you treat people like stones, they will act like it. If you treat them as champions; they will become champions. Steven Covey said, “Always treat your employees exactly how you want them to treat your best customers.”

Clear Expectations

All good performance starts with clear expectations and goals. It is all about working together to achieve priorities. It is also about doing better, and what the payoff is for everyone. The best managers communicate this on an individual level, and team level. This is important because 80 percent of performance problems come from the lack of clear expectations and recognition. Once goals and plans are established, these leaders review and reinforce outcomes regularly.

One excellent manager used large colorful goal charts-that tracked performance daily-for her department of forty employees. Team leads supervised smaller groups. When she began this process, she offered her teams pizza for lunch when they exceeded their goals. (She had a limited budget.) A few months later, she called and said, “Rick they are getting tired of pizza what should I do?” I said, “How about Subway?” She goes, “Good idea.” Her department regularly outperformed peer groups. He manager’s boss could not believe what was happening. The other managers thought her approach was childish. She received the promotion; they did not.

So, how do you do this, so it works? Meet with each employee one and one. Do a planning meeting with your team, use their input to create a better plan. Follow-up on the one on ones at least monthly. Update results daily, weekly, and monthly. Re-engage your team planning at least quarterly. In addition, communicate about results and give rewards for progress. A district manager in Chicago applies this relentlessly but constructively with his store leaders. His team consistently outperforms other districts, which do goals and planning annually following the company policies.

Done well, setting clear expectations have a multiplier effect on the other areas because employees are positively focused on what is most important. However, with this you are doomed to fail.


Creating a High Performance Team and Accelerating ResultsCompetence is about the employee’s job skills and knowledge. In any profession, the best performers continually practice and train to get better at their career. A concert pianist puts in untold hours to play with effortless grace. Baseball players work-out during the off season to prepare for the regular season. They also go to spring training and continue to practice before games throughout the year.

Why isn’t this done more in business? At the most, everyone is “trained” once a year and you are done. The best managers train their own employees more than others do. They use the services of their HR group, but they do not totally rely on them because the training department usually has a tight budget. A sales manager in Minneapolis conducted three 30–60-minute training sessions for his sales team a week. He invariably led his market in sales, and customer satisfaction surveys. In a business in Montreal, the regional vice president had his managers taught how to do deliver weekly customer service rep training. For three years in a row his division led the company in service sales.

Fortune magazine is 100 best companies to work for consistently provide an average of 50-60 hours of training or more per employee per year. You might not have that kind of budget or training department capability, but do not worry about this. Learn and equip yourself with a basic understanding of training principles. Managers who do this are the best trainers of their teams. However, it is not always teaching people what they know. In addition, it involves refining current skills to achieve a greater level.


Commitment involves employee willingness and desire to do the job well. Most people have this to a certain degree because they want a paycheck. People go to work for their reasons and most people want to work to fulfill their career desires. The work itself creates the motivation to do the job. This is only a starting point for the best managers.

Greg is a General Manager in Bismarck. His team routinely outperforms offices in bigger cities: LA, Atlanta, and Minneapolis. How does he do it? He says, “It’s all about my people.” Everything he does is purposely designed to encourage and motivate his team to do well and to be their best. And he does it with genuine care, enthusiasm, and relentless focus. He expects to be #1, he trains and coaches religiously, and he does it with energy and fun. A wonderful thing happens, his employees respond with extraordinary results. Actions like Greg’s inspire people to engage their work with passion and joy.


This is all about the work environment. Is it supportive or not? Climate involves:

  • A positive or a negative atmosphere
  • Clear goals, not ambiguity
  • High standards or mediocrity
  • Listening, not telling
  • Recognition, not criticism
  • Teamwork, not isolationism
  • Defined values, not confusion
  • A sense of purpose, not business as usual
  • Fun and having a good time, not boring and routine.
  • Innovative, not same old same old
  • Integrity, not disreputable practices

Certainly, the climate you create in your department sets the tone for whether or they become a high performance team The best manager’s prep their team’s climate like a maestro tuning their Stradivarius violin.

A High Performance Team: Pulling It All Together

Creating a High Performance Team and Accelerating ResultsFor example, here is a negative approach.

In my department nobody likes their jobs. The manager comes in every morning, goes straight to his office, and slams the door shut. He comes out a number of times during the day about a problem. He issues commands and yells at everybody. It is the same every day. One day, I stopped the manager before he made it to his office in the a.m. and said it would be nice if he could talk to us and say hello. He responded by saying he did not have time for that trivial bull____. Everybody hated the place and could not wait to get home at night.

What do you think? Which group of employees will perform better: the team that is consistently challenged, trained, and supported? Or, the team that is treated poorly or indiscriminately? John Buchan, former Governor General of Canada said, “The task of leadership is not to put greatness into people, but to elicit it, for the greatness is there already.” 

In conclusion, how will you use the High-Performance Team Formula to help you bring out the best in your team and accelerate their results?

Also, are you committed to achieving a high performance team? If so, see this complimentary Coaching for Results eBook.

In addition, go here for our RealTime Learning & Training leadership and personal development website. Over 130 micro-learning and career development resources at your fingertips!

Finally, do you want to accelerate your leadership success? Go here for Rick’s Superstar Leadership eBook.

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