Designing a high performance team

Just take a quick peek at your team right now. When you look over your PC screen are you looking at a team who manage themselves with lashings of initiative, who develop their own skills and strategies and are brimming over with common sense? If not, then don’t worry you’re not alone and Ruth Wageman may have the answer.

Wageman came up with the 7 critical factors that focus on how a team is designed rather than how it is coached. If you're wondering why your team seems to lack initiative, it may be because they are micromanaged and spoon-fed their targets and working practices rather than being encouraged to come up with their own strategies. Wageman's research found that the 7 success factors below are essential to the high performing team.

1. Clear Direction
All the members of your team should have a clear understanding of their team's purpose in the company and the long term direction they are moving in. Easy to check, just ask them, but be prepared for some surprising answers.

2. Real Team Tasks
Teams that recognise that they need each other will find ways to co-operate and work together. The manager's role is to encourage their team to meet up, make decisions and draw up strategies. The result will be a team who learn new ways to tackle issues.

3. Team Rewards
If they need each other to succeed the rewards should reflect this. The right rewards will direct how people work and show everyone what is important.

4. Basic Material Resources
Don’t ask the team to reinvent your CRM strategy and give them the broom closet to hold their meetings in. Sometimes finding the time or additional resources your teams needs is the most important thing you can do as a manager.

5. Authority To Manage Their Own Work
Giving your team real authority to change the way they work is essential if you expect to see teams who show initiative. This can be hard but if you constantly tell and direct staff you will have a team who wait for instruction.

6. Team Goals
A high performing team need goals that stretch them, that they really buy into and that they have to plan to achieve. Make sure that they play a real part in setting those goals.

7. Team Norms
Your team needs one more magical ingredient that is tied up with my favourite topic: Culture. There should be an accepted way of doing things within the team that encourages contribution and solves problems and disagreements. Asd the manager, you can help by rewarding behaviour that contributes to the team’s cohesion rather than saving all the praise for individual superstars.

It does take careful design and a lot of thought to come up with the right plan for your team but seeing your group come together and start to really innovate makes it all worthwhile.

You can find Ruth Wageman’s original article here


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