Whether they are elite special operations units, winning professional sports teams, or successful commercial organizations, all high performance teams share similar attributes. They have high levels of internal trust and responsibility, are more successful in navigating change, and have a resilient mindset. They are more sustainable, have higher levels of engagement and therefore higher efficiency. High-performing business organizations operate with a clear mission story, have greater employee and customer satisfaction and retention, grow faster (and smarter), and are more profitable.
Here are the 15 characteristics of successful teams (in no particular order):
1. Servant leadership: The organization adopts a leadership philosophy in which the primary goal of the leader is to serve. They stay focused on achieving goals while remaining humble and putting the needs of the team before their own.
2. Shared vision: All team members share and support a common vision that the team strives to achieve. Team members are very focused on the goals. They are emotionally linked to the story of the mission.
3. Time-oriented: The team works to specific deadlines to get results. SMART goals are the norm.
4. Culture of Responsibility: The organization not only talks about the importance of accountability, but also has frameworks in place that align experiences, beliefs and actions with desired business outcomes.
5. Transparent communication: Everyone goes to extraordinary lengths to ensure that the plan – and progress towards the plan – is clearly understood. Appropriate tools are used. Leaders and managers engage in focused storytelling through formal and informal mechanisms for sharing information across the organization.
6. Extension of the comfort zone: The work of the team is beyond the comfort zone of the team. Calculated risks are taken and they always ask “what if?” The team embraces and thrives in the face of adversity. The organization plans for the unexpected and is more resilient when obstacles arise.
7. Ecosystems, not hierarchies: High-performing teams take a more decentralized approach to leadership and decision-making. While the planning process generally remains centralized and focused on overall strategies, the execution of tasks and tasks is decentralized. Leadership is pushed down the chain of command.
8. Good planning: The team has appropriate mechanisms and SOPs (standard operating procedures) for planning and execution. They solicit feedback and participation from all appropriate team members in the planning process. Everyone’s voice is heard.
9. After action reviews: The team stops at a convenient time to check the quality of their recent work with the aim of determining how the process could be improved and what learning can be shared with other members. The after action review process is carried out on a regular basis and the results are documented in a center of excellence.
10. High participation: Members work to make sure everyone is involved. Engagement stimulates participation. Very few (if any) of the team members are disengaged or actively disengaged (working against the team).
11. Self-managed: The leadership of the team changes depending on the expertise required. Team members leap into the breech as weaknesses or gaps are discovered.
12. Confidence is measured: The team understands that trust has a direct impact on productivity, engagement and profitability. Integrity, honesty and transparency (appropriate times and context) are among the expected standards of behavior of the organization.
13. Guiding principles: The team operates on a specific and well-defined set of guiding principles that dictate their behavior and communication. A common language is used as part of the organizational “way”. Guiding principles are always taken into account for talent acquisition, promotion efforts and reward mechanisms.
14. Celebrate success: High performance teams celebrate small victories towards goal achievement. The members of the team work to build themselves. They care deeply about the development and personal growth of each person.
15. Culture of learning: The organization constantly strives for excellence through learning and development. They are never happy with the status quo.
Now that you understand the characteristics, you know where your team thrives and what can be improved. So get started!