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Top performers: How to build a high-performing team in 2024

April 30, 2024

Every leader wants to achieve fantastic results. This is why many organisations today focus so much energy, resources, and time on finding methods to enhance performance. However, as the nature of business changes, planning in advance becomes harder, and companies are concentrating their efforts on creating more adaptable and flexible teams.

The spike in remote and hybrid teams, increased reliance on collaboration software, and the reshuffling of teams to elevate inclusivity as well as diversity of thought, all make it harder for businesses to amplify team productivity while still allowing for the necessary fluidity.

Defining high-performing teams

Before starting to build one, it’s important to ask what is a high-performing team in the first place.

A high-performing team is a group of employees who work together, using their individual skills, perspectives, and expertise, to enhance their outcomes and create a sum that is larger than its parts. Successful teams will tackle challenging goals with determination, achieve fantastic results, and share a focused sense of purpose.

These teams benefit from a supportive environment, great communication, and a foundation of trust among their peers. They are able to recognise their collective strengths and weaknesses, while filling in the gaps in each other’s knowledge, skills, and personalities.

Further reading: How to measure employee performance


Building blocks of high-performance teams

Regardless of the type of team, high-performing teams all show certain characteristics. Some of those include:

  • Clear goals: High-performing teams have specific goals that are tied to both the team and organisation’s priorities. These goals are both individual and collective.

  • Organisational alignment: Successful teams must know their role in achieving the company’s mission. Where does their work fit into this?

  • Defined roles: Each member of the team should know exactly what their role entails, what their responsibilities are, and where they fit within the organisation and team structure. There shouldn’t be any serious overlap between those responsibilities.

  • Excellent communication: Conflict is normal for any team — you can’t always see eye to eye with everyone. However, successful teams are able to communicate effectively with each other, to minimise the negative impact of disagreements and navigate challenges together.

  • Give and receive feedback: High-performing teams are made up of individuals who always want to improve. This means that they take feedback onboard and even seek it. This goes both ways — they are also happy to provide feedback, feel comfortable to make suggestions, and thrive on free-flowing ideas.

  • Effective prioritisation: Time management is an essential element of high performance. Successful teams are experts at adapting to change, and know when to move something to the end of their to-do list when urgent tasks arise.

  • Wellbeing: High-performing teams can balance the needs of the organisation and their own personal life, ensuring their wellbeing needs are met.

  • Digital proficiency: Teams that embrace tech to remove manual tasks, connect with each other, and support their work, are better performing.

Further reading: Learn how to build psychological safety at work

Examples of high-performing teams

There are many models of high-performing teams that companies should consider, each suitable for different goals and purposes. Some examples include:

  • Fixed work teams: Teams that revolve around a particular skill-set or job function; for example, customer service or sales. These are stable and well-defined teams that either report to a skilled supervisor, or make decisions collectively.

  • Virtual teams: Teams that are chosen based solely on their talent, regardless of where they are based in the world. These teams could work across different countries and timezones, using technology to connect them.

  • Project teams: Teams that are united around a specific project or campaign with clear timeframes. These teams are made up of individuals with different skills, job functions, and characteristics, and will be dissolved once the project is completed.

  • Management teams: Teams of supervisors and managers that are created to steer the business as a whole, or a particular department, in a certain direction. These teams will make macro decisions about the business and connect strategy to the everyday work of employees.

  • Parallel teams: Teams that are created to perform functions the organisation doesn’t traditionally fulfil. These teams consist of individuals from different backgrounds and departments, operating alongside normal business structures, to solve particular problems.

Actionable strategies for team leaders

To improve success and build high-performing teams, you need to make sure that you are setting the right goals, measuring them appropriately, providing feedback, and using the right tools.

1. Set standards and expectations

Setting goals is an important first step towards achieving greatness when it comes to team performance. However, you can’t stop there — solidifying standards and expectations should be incorporated early into your strategy. A performance standard includes the thresholds, requirements, and projections of what constitutes success. These metrics should be objective, measurable, realistic, and clear.

Consider these elements in particular:

  • Quality: How good, accurate, and effective is the work?
  • Quantity: How much work is produced?
  • Speed: How quickly is work produced? What deadlines need to be met?
  • Cost: How much money does it take to produce the work? Does the team stay within budget?

Of course, sometimes one element would be more important than another — for example, you’d like to think that a team of doctors’ quality of work is more important than the quantity. You should decide on measurements according to these priorities, while considering each factor.

Make sure to also specify how this will be measured, what needs to be tracked to accomplish this, and who will be in charge of scoring/measuring.

2. Provide feedback and celebrate success

It’s simply not enough to set standards and let your team roll on. You should check in regularly, ensure they are on track to achieve their goals, and provide feedback to help improve results in the areas you’re measuring. Introduce 1-2-1 meetings with individuals within your team, as well as collaborative meetings where managers and colleagues can run through issues and challenges, and work out a plan to meet objectives. No one wants to get to the end of a project only to then find out they haven’t met the standards!

It’s also important to show your gratitude and celebrate success, as it will encourage your team to perform outstandingly as well as give your feedback more weight. Consider initiating rewards and fun activities to recognise your team’s hard work and achievements.

3. Leverage technology and digital tools

In order to ensure your team is performing to the best of their ability, it’s also vital to provide them with the necessary tools to help them flourish. These can be digital conferencing tools such as Zoom, Teams, or Slack; task management apps like Asana or Jira; subscriptions to e-learning tools or courses to improve skills and knowledge; or any other tool that your team feels like they need to make the most out of their roles.

Incorporating assessment tools and surveys into your team can also transform the way your team works and enhance performance. Through the Thrive platform, you can send regular surveys testing your team’s retention, engagement, wellbeing, and remote-readiness, helping you identify strengths and areas for improvement in time. It will also show you the individual personality characteristics of your team members, as well as ways to improve them.

Want to learn more about how Thrive can help you enhance your team’s performance? Book a demo with us today.

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