6 Expert Tips to Build a High-Performing Team

Over the past few decades, building a high-performing team has become essential to all kinds of organizations, from startups to large corporations and everything in between.

According to McKinsey, 90 percent of investors believe the quality of management is as vital in determining an Initial Public Offering (IPO) as the financials of a business. In addition, a highly functioning team increases the chances of the team having above-median financial performance.

Time and again, business leaders want to make sure they have high-performing teams within their walls. Developing a high-performing team can:

  • Boost productivity
  • Increase morale
  • Inspire and nurture innovation
  • Create a culture of collaboration and celebration

Are you seeking new ways to encourage and facilitate team connectivity? This article explores the value of this pursuit and breaks down how you can build high-functioning teams to support your organization.

Key Characteristics of a High-Performing Team

So what exactly is a “high-performance team”? What are the components of the team itself and the characteristics of the individuals on the team?

Essentially, a healthy, high-performing team consists of a group in pursuit of a common or shared goal that is willing and able to sacrifice for one another to grow and improve usually with specialized expertise and complementary skills. Together, they use trust and effective communication to collaborate, innovate, and produce strong results.

A high-performing team also:

  • Has a foundation of open and trusting relationships
  • Co-authors priorities and plans
  • Consistently tracks goals, measures, and plans
  • Agrees on how to achieve goals and measures
  • Holds each other accountable

How to Build a High-Performing Team

Now that you understand more about the value and characteristics of strong team performance, how do you build a high-performing team?

Fortunately, there are some well-established processes and strategies for how to develop a high-performing team that will improve and maintain your organization’s health and prosperity.

Let’s look at some of these strategies.

1) Choose the Right Members for Teams

It is much easier to build a strong team when you have the right individual employees on hand or ready to join a team.

Kick off the team-building process by hiring the right individuals for your organization. Of course, evaluate them for their skills and experience. However, look beyond their basic qualifications.

What else differentiates them? How can they contribute as a team member, and not just a solo high performer?

Members of an elite team complement each other, balancing out strengths and weaknesses. They should also offer diversity of thought. This will enhance creativity, encourage innovation, and facilitate problem-solving.

Here are a few ways to find the right team members:

  • Identify and clearly communicate what it takes to be successful in the role.
  • Perform thorough interviews with detailed questions using the STAR model. Make sure each candidate gets asked these core questions.
  • Conduct reference checks to gain deeper insights into each candidate’s previous work on teams and working toward a team goal.
  • Ask prospective team members how they feel about working on specific projects your team is working on.
  • Determine whether each candidate is aligned with your goals and values.

2) Create and Foster a Strong Company Connection

Connection is a powerful component in creating and fostering a strong company culture. The very essence of developing and maintaining a high-functioning team environment is how well it allows everyone to make genuine connections.

A high-performing team prioritizes three forms of connection:

  • Connection to each other: Do team members share accountability and trust?
  • Connection to purpose: Does your team’s work relate directly to the organization’s mission, vision, goals, and strategies?
  • Connection to results: Is everyone working toward a common goal?

A connected team is a successful team!

3) Set Clear Goals and Expectations

Employees with clear goals and expectations feel more confident and ready to tackle their daily tasks. The same is true for teams—clear goals offer team members a compass that guides them to success.

If you need help determining the right goals and expectations, the Culture Habits framework will help to align goals with your organization’s objectives.

SMART goals, which stand for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound, offer you a foundation to arm your team members with clarity and purpose in a team atmosphere.

4) Encourage Effective Communication

Where goals give team members the same guiding light, communication gels everyone together. Communication lies at the foundation of a high-performing team.

Quick and effective communication supported by established channels, tools, and processes allow team members to easily schedule meetings, share information, and other core components of team communication.

Encourage open, candid, and respectful dialog via email, face-to-face, text, and collaborative platforms used. Document these conversations and give people clear action items if needed after these conversations.

Finally, remember that your team members need to maintain open, transparent communication with other team members to ensure everyone offers their input. Promote active listening and constructive conflict resolution. Avoid feedback loops that end up in productivity stalemates.

5) Promote Cross-Training Collaboration

When everyone has an understanding of the other team member’s jobs, roles, and responsibilities, it allows for connection and cooperation across the team. If everyone knows that someone else’s ability to maintain their productivity relies on them, there is an organic empathy and built-in support system.

Everyone doesn’t need to learn every facet of each other’s roles, but it is helpful for everyone to understand how the overall operations work through team-building activities, knowledge-sharing initiatives, and cross-functional projects.

6) Recognize and Reward Behaviors

Recognition and rewards transform workplaces and team dynamics. Praise, affirmation, and recognition set a behavior target. To give effective praise, you start by describing what happened, letting the person know how that event made us feel and ending on the impact this continuation of their behavior will make.

As humans, to be our most productive selves we need positive affirmation. We all seek validation. This human-centered approach reassures your employees that they are on the right track for success. They also help boost the employee experience while showcasing your organization’s uplifting, team-oriented brand.

Need Help Building High-Performing Teams?

If you are in the process of building a high-performing team and company culture, our Compass Team can help! We can help you lay the foundation for creating a high-performing team.

Compass offers a series of free workshops for Elite Teams. We keep spots limited to facilitate authentic conversation, so sign up today!

Take you team to the next level. Learn more about our "building elite teams" workshop series.