How to boost Positive Performance in Teams

leadership teamwork Feb 16, 2020

It is a pity the majority of companies acts like teams develop organically.

Surprisingly so, because even at top levels (management) teams are far from cohesive. So they should know better...

A huge potential is missed, by not making the development of High Performance Teams a key aspect of the organizational development. Especially when considering that being part of High Performance Teams create advantages for all parties: Organizations benefit greatly by getting much better results, but individuals also grow when being part of a good team. Great teamwork contributes highly to Happiness at Work. We all love being part of a good functioning and performing group.

All reasons why it is a missed opportunity not to invest in team development.

First of all, teams are made up of individuals with different desires, knowledge and levels of experience. We’d be silly to think that just because we put together some people, they will have a natural fit.

Secondly, we can’t assume that when we keep on working like we are used to in corporate life, putting together a bunch of talented individuals equates to successful collaboration. That everybody puts the teams interest on top.

“High performing teams are built, not formed by chance”

Fortunately, it is possible to create and be a part of high performing teams if leaders and managers are willing to focus on the right things. Let ’s start with 5 conditions for building High Performance Teams. Not the most complex conditions, but challenging because they require a shift in attitude of leadership:


From traditionally….:                                                   

  • Just calling any group of people a team to ….. choosing more strategically to be a (leadership) team with a focus on a shared clear vision and shared ambitious goals with clear expectations amongst team members.
  • Trusting on teams to develop organically to …. investing more in team development to ensure maximal use of the teams integral potential, also stimulating and supporting development of team members.
  • Focussing mainly on individual results in performance & reward to …. placing more weight on team members contribution to team successes in performance & reward.
  • Operating reactively to ‘team stuff’ to ….proactively creating cohesive teams with an open, collaborative and safe culture.
  • Focussing mostly on either the ‘hard’ content side (business/management) OR the ‘softer’ people dynamics side (HR, external providers) to …. using an integral approach on team effectiveness, acknowledging that your people are at the heart of your organization. And that they are the ones who deliver the results.

Highly effective teams work on 4 dimensions

How to approach team development in an integral way:

The manager’s role can be of very much value
as facilitator of these 4 team dimensions

On the ‘It’-side, the manager:

  • Makes sure the organizations vision and direction are clearly translated to the team
  • Defines strategy, tactics and operational priorities together with team
  • Define team goals with team
  • Creates a ‘Team Rhythm for success’, with an effective blend of strategic, tactical and operational meetings, each category with separately, dedicated time
  • Helps the team defining working norms


On the ‘Me’-side, the manager:

  • Holds a Growth & Happiness at Work Dialogue
  • Provides team members with enough responsibility and freedom to grow in their role and task
  • Facilitates insight in personal preferences (possibly using a personality questionnaire)
  • Coaches team members on performance, creates clarity on expectations
  • Helps team members manage their energy level


On the ‘We’-side, the manager:

  • Invests in building a cohesive team
  • Ensures team alignment on team mission, team priorities and team actions
  • Creates & discusses insight in the teams personality diversity (possibly using personality questionnaire)
  • Matches team member qualities to tasks


On the ‘They’-side, the manager:

  • (helps to) Initiates a stakeholder analysis where relevant
  • Investigates clients and other stakeholders perception of teams actions/ performance
  • Facilitates cross department or cross silo connections
  • Provides team with relevant outside-in knowledge

Ignite positive change: Celebrate Succes

As a leader inspiring and motivating his or her people, it is almost a must to keep in mind that you need to (help the team) celebrate its successes. These can be achievement of milestones, accomplishing team targets, Individual team members successes. Invest genuinely in celebrations. Team efficacy is one of the major components of emotional intelligence in teams and strongly grown by bonding through recognition of succes. Keep in mind that celebration can be of many forms, formal or informal. Of course the costly ‘team of the year’ award will take much more effort than the informal compliments in team meetings or the more formal acknowledgement in an internal news letter. But they have the same effect. Do not hold yourself back in these.

As Patrick Lencioni wrote, writer of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team“Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare.” So invest in it, because, to quote Roger Enrico, Vice Chairman of PepsiCo :

“The soft stuff is always harder than the hard stuff”

And as I would add to that: ‘the soft stuff’ is actually the hard stuff! But with the right leadership attitude, persistence and often, with the fresh help from outside of the system, the soft stuff always has the potential to become the best stuff.


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