Overview of High-Performing Teams

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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Svitlana Kostenko
There is a lot written about high-performing teams these days. It's often hard to sort out what is anecdotal and what is based on data. In this video, we'll discuss the research on high-performing teams and provide a framework that you can apply to your own team. You'll also be introduced to the Blue Widgets team, who will help illustrate how a team might proceed through the process of becoming high performing.

eResearch Sources and Findings

The research on high-performance teams has evolved over the years and comes from a variety of sources. Researching pioneers included John Katzenbach and Douglas Smith, co-authors of The Wisdom of Teams. Additional well-known studies include those of Patrick Lencioni and the Table Consulting Group, as well as research from the Center for Creative Leadership. Very recently the New York Times published findings from Google's Project Aristotle, an initiative which studied hundreds of Google's teams to find out why some stumbled while others soared.

Some key takeaways from all this research include:

  • Teams, not individuals, are the fundamental unit of organization in most businesses today
  • ''High performance'' is not a cliche for the best teams; it is a relentless focus
  • Small teams are more high performing than big teams. The best guideline is seven team members - plus or minus two. To sustain high performance, you should change team membership in small increments.
  • Clearly defined short-term goals help teams track progress and hold themselves accountable. Broader, aspirational goals supply meaning and emotional energy
  • On the highest performing teams, members speak in roughly the same proportion over time. No individual dominates conversations. Team members listen to one another and are skilled at reading others based on tone of voice, expression, and other non-verbal cues
  • Demeaning or diminishing others is off-limits in high performing teams -- ''zero tolerance''
  • High performance teams make their decision-making processes clear and explicit, and avoid unstated assumptions. Transparency focuses the team.
  • Team members provide timely feedback to one another and hold one another accountable.

High Performance Teams Framework

If you like reading, we suggest The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. His book uses a simple, but useful framework to describe what it takes for a team to be high performing. Let's take a closer look at each level in the pyramid.

Speak this: Build Trust

The foundation of a high performance team is trust. And trust is about vulnerability - being open, admitting mistakes, acknowledging weaknesses, and asking for help. It takes time to build trust, but the process can be accelerated by proactively doing several things:

  • Share background and experiences about yourself which have shaped you as a person
  • Work to understand your own personal style and that of others.
  • Don't expect everyone to have the same style --- or be like you. Appreciate style differences and

adapt your preferable style to the differences in others.

Master Conflict

A second characteristic of high performance is the ability to ''master conflict''. While many view conflict as a ''bad thing''; we don't share that belief. Instead, Study.com believes that a variety of viewpoints and perspectives can encourage constructive dialogue and better solutions.

Members of high performing teams are skilled at using different conflict resolution approaches. They recognize that a single approach doesn't fit all situations.

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