December 2, 2008

Five Characteristics of a High Performance Team

High performance teams share a number of characteristics that set them apart from their less capable counterparts. Some of these characteristics are objective and easily quantifiable. Others are of the “I know it when I see it” variety; subjective and hard to define.

But whether subjective or objective these characteristics form the basis of developing and maintaining a high performance team.

Here are five characteristics that are particularly important:

1. The team has defined what success looks like.

The ability to accurately identify the desired outcome is common to all high performance teams. Whether it’s introducing a new product, winning a sports championship or developing a new process high performance teams have a clear understanding of their ultimate goal.

2. The team’s actions are guided by specific values.

Teams, like individuals, possess values that impact on their actions. High performance teams develop and continually enforce a core set of positive group values that govern the actions of each team member. From these values come the principles and processes that guide the team’s daily activities.

3. The team is made up of the right people, and they’re in the right places.

The best teams are those that put each member in the role for which they are uniquely suited. This often requires looking beyond job descriptions to find those hidden or under-used talents that members possess.

4. They have identified barriers to success and have planned to eliminate or minimize those barriers.

Whether you call them barriers or challenges or even opportunities, every team faces problems that can prevent successful completion of their mission. High performance teams are adept at recognizing those barriers and devising effective plans to overcome them.

5. The team conducts periodic progress evaluations.

You can’t get where you’re going if you don’t know where you are. High performance teams define success in ways that are specific, pertinent, attainable, measurable and observable.

They use their definition in conducting periodic progress evaluations in order to determine their progress in relation to their desired end-state. This in turn allows them to make mid-course corrections if necessary.

Building and maintaining a high performance team takes commitment, time and effort. It also requires a focus on those positive characteristics that distinguish high performance teams.

Teams that invest the time and effort and maintain that focus will consistently exceed expectations, enjoy high member satisfaction and serve as a model for others to follow.

Doug Petch PhotoDoug Petch specializes in helping organizations and individuals create the synergies in team building, leadership and communication skills that lead to sustained profitability and long-term success. He is also the host of the popular Sixty Second Success Seminar, an audio program focused on the tools, tips and techniques that anyone can use to navigate their path to success. Website:

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Filed under Developing Your People by Martin

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