What It Takes to Have High Performance Teamwork

Just recently I read this article debating ‘Is it about winning or about taking part’ that really matters? Even though it was discussing about a different approach concerning life, I was really thinking about the subject matter concerning teamwork. Usually with a team, team members or players will thrive for one common goal depending on what kind of team that is. But the team is rarely going to win if team members don’t play and take their parts as they are supposed to. In order to win and succeed, most of the time it takes team efforts.

Mother Theresa said, “You can do what I cannot do. I can do what you cannot do. Together we can do great things.” Helen Keller also said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

Ask any leader, especially so called ‘great leaders,’ they will tell the best thing they have done in their positions of authority that has been a major contribution for their success and of their companies, organizations, projects, and their homes was because they have been able to build and work with great teams. Having a great team is the secret to their success.

In fact in one of his interviews, Steve Job’s said one of the secrets to his success was building a great team. But he also said: “Greatest people are self-managing; they don’t need to be managed. Once they know what to do they will figured out how to do it, they don’t need to be managed at all. What they need is a common vision, and that’s what leadership is. Leadership is having a vision and being able to articulate that so that the people around you can understand it, and getting a consciousness on a common vision. We wanted people that are instantly great at what they did.”

Why Steve Job would prefer self-managed over self-directed teams for instance? Wouldn’t both be required in order to succeed as an organization?

When a company is in its beginning phase of its team-building process, usually leaders have to figure out what sort of teams are best to be used the most in their organizations or companies so that they can succeed and achieve their objectives and common goals. Then concentrations on building great teams in order to having high-performing teams and win as whole become mandatory. Not all team members will be better performers and producers under direct supervision, some will be suited for low supervision, while others will work-well and prefer to work with no supervision at all.

Most organizations, firms, or companies have discovered that many high performance team members to be self-managed. Even though self-managed and self-directed are somewhat similar except that the scope of a self-managing team’s authority is limited by goals that are established by others such as top managers, directors. The difference is in how the teams operate and whether is best to be used in a particular organization or situation.

With self-managing teams, as the leader you have the advantage to still be in control of your teams even though they work under less supervision. The teams still receives goals from leadership and determines how to accomplish their goals. So creating a self-managed team is not simply a matter of putting a bunch of highly talented and competent people together in a room and expecting them to “set”. They need to be given responsibilities, goals, targets, parameters, milestones, deadlines, authority, accountabilities, rewards and consequences.

When given more freedom to finding solutions to problems, self-managed team players and members tend to become far more innovative and resourceful. They discover new ways to do more with less and uncover areas within the business that need attention and new ways of getting things done. And, they are more likely to able to bring initiatives that benefit the business for growth and expansion.

In many cases in order for the team to high perform, the team somehow is to be managed, even under very low supervision. Therefore, management must be careful to focus the team on “what” needs to be achieved. The “how the work is to be accomplished” must remain the sole purview of the team. It usually works well that way because self-manage people are self-motivated people. Often they do not like to be told what to do, and prefer to figure things out on their own. And if the management goes to the point of telling self-managed team members how work is to be accomplished, they will become de-motivated and perhaps subconsciously says “we’ll see about that.”

As mentioned earlier teamwork in not one member working and the rest watching; it’s about taking part. When everybody participates on their roles and delivers accordingly, the entire team succeeds. It is very important for all team members to be on the same page and know what’s going on in the team. In order to have a high-performance team, each member should understand and clearly know the goals of the team and the progress towards its completion.

Every team member must contribute for the team to achieve full success. Each member needs to understand their specific goals and responsibilities they must own as individuals in order to bring such high performance to the team. They should be committed, and also know their common purpose is to support team success, and consistently show high levels of collaboration and innovation to produce excellent results.

But also in order to have high performance teamwork, it’s important to value the diversity of experiences and backgrounds in their teams. Teams need to see the value of its diversity of viewpoints and ideas to promote more innovation and creativity in the team. They need to know with diversity there are chances for better decision making and solutions.

Effective communication methods and channels should be used to inform and share information to each member. It’s hard to perform well as teamwork without having clear and open communication among team members.

Another key aspect of the process that makes for true high performance teamwork is for the company to have established methods and procedures to resolve conflicts efficiently without allowing grudges to build up and destroy the team spirit. Organizations should have conflicts resolution procedures to follow if conflicts arise among employees or team members and simple for any employee to follow.

With this understanding, building high performance teams is about wanting to use teams to help improve quality, work processes, or customer service but also making better decisions on which sort of teams the company or organization want to best fit their situations and desired outcomes.


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