In today's ever-changing business landscape, success hinges on the ability to build and maintain high-performing teams. We are here today to share with you the five key principles that can transform an average team into an invincible one. But before we dive into these principles, let’s get some context about why this topic is so critical.
We've encountered a common challenge: solving problems and implementing changes that fail to stick. Often, the root cause lies in the team's inability to embrace these changes fully. This observation prompted us to explore how we can make teams not only high-performing but also change-ready. After all, engaged teams are more likely to invest themselves not just in their jobs but in the transformative shifts that lead to superior organizational results.
To begin our journey, let's first take a look at the characteristics of an average team. Picture a group of individuals spending valuable time on internal drama, akin to a soap opera, with gossip and distractions running rampant. Hostility among certain team members further divides the group, leading to collaboration bottlenecks and siloed thinking. Misalignment becomes inevitable as teams operate without a clear view of the bigger picture, resulting in frustration for individual contributors and a lack of execution. The culmination of these issues equates to missed targets and unrealized potential, which, unfortunately, is the norm for many teams.
The cost of mediocrity often goes unaddressed, but it's staggering. Research conducted in Texas and Singapore have found that an average team operates at only 58% of its productivity potential. This underperformance, combined with turnover costs resulting from the frustration of high-performing individuals, can lead to significant financial losses. For a five-person team, this could amount to a staggering $200,000 annually. Multiply this across multiple teams within an organization, and the problem becomes glaringly evident.
But what does this mean for individual contributors? The statistics paint a bleak picture. Only 50% of employees know precisely what is expected of them, leading to unproductive busyness. An even more disconcerting figure reveals that just 34% believe their managers genuinely understand their work. Employees are left feeling unheard and unsupported. Additionally, only 30% feel they have the opportunity to learn and grow, limiting their potential and hindering organizational development. Furthermore, a mere 26% receive effective ongoing feedback, leaving them disengaged and unsatisfied. Finally, just 21% have performance metrics to guide them, exacerbating the problem of misalignment.
Now that we've established the challenges of an average team, let's explore the five drivers that can transform them into high-performing, invincible units.
1. Healthy and Effective Team Communication: Effective communication, whether in remote, hybrid, or in-person settings, is the foundation of any high-performing team. It's about engaging people in a way that makes them feel valued and encourages them to speak up.
2. Relational Trust: Building trust is a collective effort that involves creating a safe environment where team members feel supported and challenged. It's not solely the leader's responsibility but a shared commitment among team members.
3. Alignment: A successful team is one where everyone understands their roles and responsibilities, knowing how their work contributes to the broader objectives of the team, department, or organization.
4. Focus on the Right Priorities: Teams must identify and prioritize the most impactful tasks to achieve their goals. This approach minimizes distractions and ensures that each team member is aligned with the team's mission.
5. Utilization of Capabilities and Skills: Beyond skill sets, understanding each team member's capabilities and aspirations is essential. This information can help harness their full potential and contribute to both individual and organizational growth.
To address these challenges and implement these drivers, organizations can follow a three-step process. First, conduct an assessment to establish a quantitative baseline of team performance. Second, leverage tools tailored to address the team's weakest areas. Third, implement a recurring process to continually transform the team, which involves resurveying at regular intervals to track progress and adapt strategies as needed.
While the transformation from an average team to an invincible one is not instantaneous, it's a journey well worth embarking on. The rewards include enhanced productivity, reduced turnover, and an engaged workforce ready to tackle the challenges of today's dynamic business environment. So, let's make the commitment to build and sustain high-performing teams. Together, we can create organizations that thrive in an ever-changing world.
This blog is based on Episode 3 of our GovEd Talks Video series: Unlocking the 5 Keys to Build an Invincible and High-Performing Team by Brenda Batista, President of inspiring company culture.