A “high-performance work team” refers to a group of goal-focused individuals with specialized expertise and complementary skills who collaborate, innovate and produce consistently superior results. The group relentlessly pursues performance excellence through shared goals, shared leadership, collaboration, open communication, clear role expectations and group operating rules, early conflict resolution, and a strong sense of accountability and trust among its members.
This article explores:
- Factors required for a high-performance work team.
- Common stages of team development.
- Causes of team dysfunction.
- Primary types of teams organizations establish to achieve specific work goals.https://www.obtaingovdocument.com/
In addition, the article offers suggestions for ways HR can help teams achieve high performance. These include recruiting the right team members, training, conflict resolution, and assessments and facilitation of results, pay and incentives. The article does not cover matters such as employee engagement and employee involvement, which are encompassed in the Employee Relations Discipline, nor issues related to employee staffing or employee retention, which are covered in the Staffing Management Discipline.
Work teams are the backbone of contemporary work life. Executive teams run corporations. Project teams create new products and services. Matrix teams help develop everything from pharmaceuticals to the delivery of services in consulting firms and charitable agencies. Marketing and sales teams deliver products and services to customers. High-performance work teams are essential to the way most organizations organize and carry out their work, resulting in superior performance, which translates into a significant competitive advantage.
A team is a group of people who work together to accomplish something beyond their individual self-interests; however, not all groups are teams. A simple but effective description of what is meant by “a team” comes from Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith’s book, The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-Performance Organization: “A team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed in a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.”1
What distinguishes high-performance teams from other groups is that a team is more than a collection of people simply following orders. To function effectively, a high-performance team also needs:
- A deep sense of purpose and commitment to the team’s members and to the mission.
- Relatively more ambitious performance goals than average teams.
- Mutual accountability and a clear understanding of members’ responsibilities to the team and individual obligations.
- A diverse range of expertise that complements other team members’ abilities.
- Interdependence and trust between members.
The use of work teams is widespread in all types of organizations throughout the world—with good reason. High-performance work teams have an advantage over the work of individuals because each member can offer new ideas, talent and viewpoints. In addition, high-performance work teams predictably execute strategy, meet goals and need little management oversight because they are empowered and responsible for their functional activity and accountable for performance. Compensation and incentives are usually tied to the achievement of team and individual goals, respectively, with a heavier emphasis on collective team performance. Because superior team performance is so highly valued, these teams do not tolerate marginal and underperforming individual contributors.
Business Case https://www.obtaingovdocument.com/
The use of teams has expanded dramatically in response to competitive challenges and technological changes. Team structures allow for the application of multiple skills, judgments and experiences that are most appropriate for projects requiring diverse expertise and problem-solving skills. Teams can execute more quickly, make better decisions, solve more complex problems, and do more to enhance creativity and build skills than an individual can. Their use also increases productivity and morale; well-functioning teams can outperform individuals and even other types of working groups.
There are four key reasons why teams work:
- A group of individuals brings complementary skills and experience that exceed the abilities of a single individual.
- Teams support real-time problem-solving and are more flexible and responsive to changing demands.
- Teams provide a unique social dimension that enhances the economic and administrative aspects of work.
- High-performance teams generally have more fun at work than low-achieving teams or individuals.
Characteristics of High-Performance Work Teams https://www.obtaingovdocument.com/
Although there is no simple measure of performance effectiveness for groups, and no team is identical, there seems to be a shared understanding of what makes an effective group work. High-performance work teams are generally composed of a combination of purpose and goals, talent, skills, performance ethics, incentives and motivation, efficacy, leadership, conflict, communication, power and empowerment, and norms and standards.
Team purpose, goals and roles https://www.obtaingovdocument.com/
High-performing teams are synergistic social entities that work toward the achievement of a common goal or goals—short term and long term. They often exemplify a total commitment to the work and to each other. Team members do better work when their roles are clear: They know how to do their jobs and why they are doing them. Each member must understand and support the meaning and value of the team’s mission and vision. Clarifying the purpose and tying it to each person’s role and responsibilities enhances team potential, as does the inclusion of “stretch” goals that increase the challenge necessary to motivate team members.
Talent, skills and work ethic https://www.obtaingovdocument.com/
High-performance teams begin by recruiting and retaining their best talent while quickly helping low-performing members find other places to work. Morale typically increases as performance increases. After selecting for talent, it is critical to ensure that the team members possess complementary skills (e.g., technical, problem-solving, decision-making and interpersonal skills). Team members must exhibit a sustained commitment to performance excellence, exercise candor and mutual respect, and hold themselves and their organizations accountable at both the individual and team levels.
Incentives, motivation and efficacy https://www.obtaingovdocument.com/
Both monetary and nonmonetary systems that encourage high performance have a positive impact on tactical implementation of the team’s goals. Over the long term, intrinsic motivators such as personal satisfaction at work and working on interesting projects provide the greatest impact on performance. In addition, a belief in one’s self and abilities encourages people to take more strategic risks to achieve team goals.
High-performing leaders generally accompany high-performance work teams. Essential leadership qualities include the ability to a) keep the purpose, goals and approach relevant and meaningful; b) build commitment and confidence; c) ensure that team members constantly enhance their skills; d) manage relationships from the outside with a focus on the removal of obstacles that might hinder group performance; e) provide opportunities for others without seeking credit; and f) get in the trenches and do the real work required. There is widespread agreement that effective team leaders focus on purpose, goals, relationships and an unwavering commitment to results that benefit the organization and each individual.
Conflict and communication https://www.obtaingovdocument.com/
Conflict management is an essential part of becoming a high-performance team. Open communication in such teams means a focus on coaching instead of on directing and a focus on the ability to immediately address issues openly and candidly. The key to team performance is open lines of communication at all times to provide motivation, maintain interest and promote cooperation.
Power and empowerment https://www.obtaingovdocument.com/
Empowered work teams increase ownership, provide an opportunity to develop new skills, boost interest in the project and facilitate decision-making. Researchers refer to the ideal situation as being “loose-tight,” such that specific decision-making boundaries are constructed with enough room for individuals to make empowered choices.
Norms and standards https://www.obtaingovdocument.com/
Like rules that govern group behavior, norms can be helpful in improving team development and performance. Norms for high-performance teams include open lines of communication, early resolution of conflict, regular evaluation of both individual and team performance, high levels of respect among members, a cohesive and supportive team environment, a strong work ethic that focuses on results, and shared recognition of team successes. The key is that high-performing teams actually discuss and agree to their operating rules—standards that each team member agrees to uphold and for which they hold each other accountable.