How to build a high-performing team. Every step you need to take.

high performing team

Building a high-performing team is more important than ever in today’s fast-paced workplace market environment.

In the last two years, organizations have undergone profound changes to adapt to the pandemic, which is now being exacerbated by other challenges, namely the difficulty in retaining talent that many call “The Great Resignation“.

But building a high-performance team is a challenging task. Contrary to what you might think, it can be done without bringing together a group of talented and motivated people.

It requires, instead, investing time, energy, and budget to develop skills, traits, and behaviors.

In this article, we’ll guide you on how to build a high-performance team and the importance of having one.

If you’re considering building a team with these characteristics, keep reading, we promise this article will help you.

Get to know your team

Recruit the right people

Set SMART goals

Be very clear about roles and expectations

Promote personal and professional development

Communication is everything

Characteristics of high-performance teams

employee working with time management
Happy satisfied young businesswoman reading data on her desktop computer with a broad grin , high angle close up view

What is a high-performing team? 

A high-performing team — also called high-performance team — can be described as a group of goal-oriented professionals whose expertise, skills and specialization lead them to achieve above-average results on a recurring basis.

A high-performance team can have different characteristics depending on the professional area, but exquisite performance is a common denominator. 

Usually, members of high-performance teams have a strong sense of responsibility, confidence, and excellent communication skills, which contribute to their outstanding results.

In addition, they’re specialized professionals and the go-to people in their respective fields. 

Later, we will learn more about high-performance teams, their characteristics, and the benefits of building a high-performance team.

How to build a high-performing team step-by-step

We’ll guide you through our foolproof step-by-step process on how to create a high-performing team. 

1. Get to know your team

Whether you’re starting from scratch or already have some team members, you first need to know them.

More than knowing their technical skills, it’s about learning what motivates them and their personality traits. 

Promote frequent 1:1s, talk to them and invest time in creating connection and trust.

This way, you will more easily understand which personalities are compatible, which colleagues might have more difficulties adapting, or who is apt to join your team.

Regarding teamwork, cultural fit is just as important as technical skills.

team work in performing team

2. Recruit the right people

This is also a step if you want to lead a team successfully.

Throughout life, we got used to numbers determining our worth: whoever gets a better school grade is smarter, comes out of college with a better GPA, will be a better professional… and so on.

However, after entering the job market, you quickly realize this isn’t true.

Of course, performance is important. In fact, it’s essential if your goal is to build a high performing team. However, it’s not everything.

Recruiting the right people and not just “the best” increases the possibility of success. Think of your team as a perfect recipe; your team members are the ingredients.

They may be great individually, but they also need to work well together. Accept and celebrate the individual differences of each team member, but also make sure they’re compatible with one another.

Let’s look at examples: what’s the point in recruiting someone who achieves all goals but makes everyone else’s life hell?

In no time at all, the consequences of that hiring will be felt in the motivation and overall performance of the team.

Therefore, we have listed some characteristics you should look for in your team members:

  • Technical skills;
  • Cultural fit with the company and team values;
  • The right mindset;
  • Ability to work in a team;
  • Adaptability.

Team size is also relevant but highly variable from team to team and segment to segment.

Above all, you should consider the needs of your team and guarantee you have enough people to ensure balanced and healthy workload management for all.

Read our article, to learn everything you need to know about team workload management.

3. Pursue a common goal

People need a purpose, and teams do too. Firstly, without direction, it’s impossible to achieve anything.

Secondly, all teams perform better when they work towards a common goal.

Members of high-performing teams are ambitious, and their primary driver is a common goal. As such, you must be an enabler of their work and keep them motivated by keeping track of the various milestones and progress.

This common goal should be clear from the first moment, even before hiring, so everyone’s expectations are aligned.

Alignment is what distinguishes a good team from a fantastic team.

set common goal in team work

4. Set SMART goals

Speaking of goals, you need to get “SMART.” Like any other team, a high-performing one needs specific, achievable goals to stay motivated. 

A clear action plan is critical to maintaining motivation and everyone working hard towards those goals.

SMART goals — Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Oriented — help everyone focus on the path and celebrate small milestones along the way.

Learn how to set realistic goals to keep your team motivated in our guide.

5. Be very clear about roles and expectations

The fifth step of this guide is one of the most important. It can generate frustration and even jeopardize the team’s performance when not considered.

The premise is simple: each team member needs to know exactly what their role is. When this doesn’t happen, it’s almost always the team that suffers.

When opening a vacancy for your team you should make it clear what is expected of each person and what their responsibilities are.

These expectations should be reinforced occasionally, either at the start of a new project or every quarter. Everyone should know exactly what their responsibilities are, as well as those of their team members, so there is no ambiguity in their roles.

In sum, be clear about everyone’s roles: we all work at our maximum potential when we know what we are required to do.

a man learning at work

6. Promote personal and professional development

One of the most striking features of a high performing team is that they’re always evolving.

In the fast-paced market we live in, to stop is to die. What worked one year ago no longer works today, and to achieve the best results, you have to innovate.

So, as a good team leader, you should encourage and promote moments of personal and professional development for your team members.

If, on the one hand, professional development is essential to renew knowledge, learn new practices, and put them into practice for the benefit of your team, personal development is just as important.

Happy and motivated people perform better, are more motivated, and tend to stay in the same team for longer.

Studies show that bored and disengaged employees are twice as likely to quit.

Develop the skills of your team with the best time management courses.

7. Communication is everything

Almost everything in life could be more accessible with healthy and transparent communication. In a team, this is no exception.

Poor communication can lead to conflict, a poor environment, and entropy — everything that prevents high-performance. 

Good communication is the main foundation of any successful team.

Effective communication is also the common denominator of all the tips we have given above. Without it, it would be impossible for you to get to know your team members, set work goals, and even define everyone’s roles.

Communication is key to relationship building within the team and overall productivity and it’s your role as the team leader to encourage it.

Be open in giving and receiving feedback. In a high-performance team, transparent and constructive feedback is especially relevant as everyone’s goal is to improve and achieve better results. 

Learn more about how to build and improve an amazing team communication culture.

Why build a high-performing team ?

If you’re still wondering why you should invest in building a high-performing team, you may not be 100% convinced yet. We can help you with that.

There are many advantages of having a team that delivers above-average results. A high-performing team:

  • Motivates other employees to improve their performance;
  • Creates a culture of knowledge and development;
  • Improves engagement and productivity;
  • Offers a diverse set of skills;
  • Has a strong work ethic;
  • Has a commitment to quality.

Most of all, a high-performance team can catapult your business to its full potential, improving the quality of life for the entire organization. Of course, such a team also has its challenges. Find out how to manage high performers.

Characteristics of high-performance teams 

Although each team is unique, most high-performing teams seem to have common characteristics, some of which we have already mentioned. So, what do all high-performance teams have in common? 

They’re result-oriented

High-performing teams stay focused to achieve the best possible results.

They’re interested in understanding how they’re performing and the real impact of their decisions.

They’re also constantly looking for ways to optimize their efforts and achieve better results.

They’re experts in their field.

Members of high-performance teams are usually the go-to people in their respective areas because of their level of expertise in their jobs.

a team of four people organizing their workload

They chase a common purpose

Although they’re usually very ambitious, a high-performance team focuses on achieving the group goal first.

They’re motivated by a common purpose and strive to work together and collaborate with their colleagues to achieve the best possible result.

They adapt easily

Typically, the teams that perform best are the ones that can adapt fastest and most efficiently to change.

Whether it’s because the market has changed or the strategy didn’t go as planned, a high-performing team can look critically at what didn’t go well and quickly build a new plan.

They trust their teammates

Trust is one of the pillars of any team, and even more so in one that performs at the highest level.

In this type of team, each person does their best work to the best of their abilities and trusts that their colleagues are doing the same.

Trust is a value that can be worked on and improved over time.

Conclusion

Every team leader dreams of having a high-performing team. Ambitious, result-oriented, and accountable for their work, they can help you achieve your full potential with their expertise. 

However, this kind of team also comes with challenges, and you need to be a strong leader to build and manage the team.

Above all, you must remember that a high-performance employee is a human. Behind the results is someone with dreams, ambition, and not-so-good days. 

You might be interested in: