What Does a High Performing Team Look Like? Part 1

I’ve got a two-parter for you, both focusing on High Performance Teams (HPT). This week’s article will take you about 4 minutes to read.

Now, many of you have been introduced to one of my favorite leadership diagrams, simply titled High Performance Teams (view below and in gallery). While I have my own way of describing what it is and what each of the spokes on it mean, I thought it could be interesting to come at the idea from a different perspective. While tooling the interwebs for info on HPT I came across a leadership group from Australia that has a lot to say about them. I’ve attached an adaptation of an article on their website, please be sure to filter their business-speak through the lens of our beloved restaurant industry.

While you read it, please take some time to think about the following:

  • How does Vestalia encourage the creation and sustainability of High Performance Teams? How does Vestalia get in the way of them?
  • Is your team an HPT, or are there HPT’s in your restaurant currently? If so, what has contributed to that? If not, what are you already doing that gets you closer to being one? What would you need to start or stop doing to become one?
  • What benefits do you see for putting the time and energy necessary into building and maintaining a HPT? What would the drawbacks be to being in a HPT?
  • What other insights do you have regarding the mechanics of HPT’s that you could discuss with your leadership team or whole team?

What Does a High Performing Team Look Like?

article adapted; original by Tim Ferguson Oct 18, 2017 for Leading Teams

High performance teams are the standard to which every business aims to meet. By definition, these teams are made up of highly focused, highly skilled and hyper-aligned employees. If you can achieve the status of a high performance team, business success is basically a guaranteed outcome.

This definition might conjure images of robotic-like workers, an office full of employees that have time for nothing other than the task at hand – but that’s not the case.

What do high performance teams look like?

Obviously, every team will have its own nuances but, by and large, all high performance teams have three commonalities:

1. An absolute clarity of purpose

People can’t work at their highest standard if they are unsure of what they are working towards. Organizations with truly high performing teams have a crystal clear purpose on an organizational level as well as by department and even down to the individual.

When you can set clear objectives for your organization and aptly communicate what role each of your teams and team members plays in this process you set up a clear pathway to success for every one of your goals. This ensures that you are achieving operational and cultural outcomes of all sizes with optimal efficiency.

2. Strong behavioral frameworks

If you’re not actively shaping the behaviors of your team members you’re actively neglecting a key component of any high performing team. Behaviors drive everything we do – good and bad. When it comes to business we need to be actively molding our actions to align with success.

Behavioral frameworks are essentially agreements you make as a team around the behaviors you will or won’t accept. In high performance organizations, these desired behaviors drive all team interactions. For example, if you agree upon honesty as a behavior in your framework, you will then prioritize being honest with your guests and your peers above most other things. The wider the gap between your desired behaviors and your actual behaviors, the farther you are from high performance.

3. Genuine relationships and communication

There is no such thing as a high performance team without strong relationships and genuine communication. The two attributes are closely linked. The ability to have genuine conversations is what builds strong relationships, and the stronger your relationships the more genuine your communication will become.

These traits are critical for high performance teams because without honest communication and the relationships that follow, it becomes near impossible to fix inconsistencies in performance. You want a team of people that have strong enough relationships to talk openly and honestly about wins, losses, areas of improvements and beyond without fear of hurt feelings or animosity.

How can you build a high performance team?

So you know the characteristics of a high performing team but what does it take to actually build up these traits?

1. Building your leadership skills

The process must begin with leadership development. You need to invest in training yourself so that you understand what skills and processes are required to lead a team to high performance.

2. Team alignment

Once you are confident in your skills, bring your team on board. Sit them down and agree on a behavioral framework for your organization. What traits do you want to model? What work will this require from each of your members? The process of creating, implementing and revising these behaviors will require lots of honest conversations but this is how you align your team to become high performers.

3. Culture change through influence

Slowly, and with commitment from your whole team, these behaviors can become ingrained into the DNA of your business – otherwise known as your culture. However, as a leader, you will need to commit to holding your team members accountable for their successes and failures on your journey to high performance. This feedback will not only help realign your team members but display your commitment to a high performance model.

High Performance Teams

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