Imagine your team works on a project or goal, and they need to get from point A to point B. Do you believe the bridge between the two points provides the necessary support to carry your team over? What if an obstacle is thrown their way?
Perhaps an essential team member calls out sick, and the team depends on them to reach a deadline. This is when your team will show whether they are a high-performing team or merely highly productive.
You can have intelligent, capable, and productive individuals on your team, but if they cannot persevere through challenges, it is time to foster a high-performance team. This is possible by establishing the primary components of a high-performance team: a positive work environment, collaborative problem-solving, and leadership.
Positive work environment
The first component of a high-performance team is having a positive work environment. Start by creating ground rules to establish the values of the group. The ground rules communicate personal behavior expectations that reflect the team's values.
And how your team handles emerging challenges depends on your team culture!
For example, if a team values learning and openness to new approaches, they would expect others to ask questions and offer guidance while promoting curiosity.
Foster a team identity built on a commitment to a shared goal or vision. Strong team identities are built on listening, trust, respect, and understanding strengths and diversity. These values are critical for working interdependently because they enable people to rely on one another.
By fostering listening skills, trust, and team identity, a team can problem-solve collaboratively. Problem-solving demands an exchange of ideas, which is possible only if team members work hard to listen to perspectives that are different from their own. An excellent way to approach collaborative problem-solving is by using divergent and convergent thinking strategies.
Divergent thinking helps high-performing teams identify many solutions to
a potential problem. The spirit of the activity is to defer judgment and encourage contributions in a free-flowing and creative way. There are
many exercises you can use to promote divergent thinking:
- Letting your team have time to think about the problem
- Making lists of the potential solutions to the problem
- Doing verbal brainstorming or mind-mapping
Once you have a solid set of potential solutions, the team moves into the convergent thinking stage, where they work together to:
- Narrow down options
- Decide on the best solution
- Reach a consensus based on a benefit and risk analysis
When you have fostered a healthy team environment, the inevitable conflict will be manageable through your ground rules of mutual respect. Create a positive work environment with strong listening skills and team identity and you will see your teams making decisions and action plans to face challenges head-on in a collaborative way.
Leadership helps provide the bridge's strength and support to push a team to persevere when faced with a challenge. The leader creates a positive work environment and encourages collaborative problem-solving while nurturing their team's capabilities. Remember that leaders are not always the boss; you can have a de-facto leader on your team too!
Leaders contribute to high-performance teams by attending to the team's health, maintaining the strategic vision, supporting team members individually, demonstrating and encouraging accountability, and modeling the way through behavior and action.
Be the three-legged stool
Although the three primary components of a high-performance team are fostered separately, they all depend on each other like the three legs of a stool. If one leg is not stable, the others will not be either. Nurture all three components and embrace challenges head-on!
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