How to Build High Performing Teams

When leading people, it can be hard to get everyone on the same page. Different personalities, different motivations, different goals in life and in work. 

But that’s the leader’s role! If you want to achieve your business goals, it’s essential to transform a group of people into a high-performing team that consistently produces results. Teams often struggle with alignment, communication, and adaptability. Without a solid foundation of trust and clear communication, a team will likely fall short of its potential.

Overcoming these challenges requires a structured approach to development that centers on alignment with your vision and leveraging diversity. Let’s take a closer look at what you can do to transform your team into a high-performance, results-oriented powerhouse. 


Vision and Diversity

As mentioned, the foundation of a high-performing team is ensuring alignment with your vision and leveraging diversity. I’ve talked about how to align teams with your vision extensively, so for now, let’s just acknowledge that teams need clear goals that align with organisational objectives, as well as a solid foundation of trust that encourages collaboration, feedback, and effective teamwork. 

Diversity is another key aspect of building a high-performance team. When we hear this term, we often think of hiring minorities, but that’s just the start. You also need to embrace diverse skill sets, experiences and perspectives that will spark creativity and innovation. 


Structured Team Development

When it comes to team development, I like to lean on Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development to guide team development from formation to performance. Tuckman describes five stages that teams go through to reach maturity and cohesion.  

Forming:  Team members are introduced to each other. They explore the boundaries of acceptable group behaviour. This stage is highly dependent on leadership for guidance and direction. Clear communication from leaders is essential to set goals and provide stable structures.

Storming:  Team members recognize the reality and weight of the tasks at hand, and they start to push back against the boundaries established in the previous stage. Personality and varying working styles come into play, often causing conflict. Many teams fail at this stage if those conflicts aren’t handled well, making effective leadership essential to navigating this stage. Leaders need to ensure team members learn to resolve conflicts and work together.

Norming:  Team members move beyond conflicts and start to work better as a group. The group develops norms, or even a sub-culture, and start to respect each other as well as the authority. At this stage, leaders should step back and help individuals take more responsibility for progress towards the goals. 

Performing:  The team reaches the performing stage when hard work leads, without friction, to the achievement of the team's goal. The structures and processes that support performance are well understood and practiced. At this stage, the leader delegates and oversees the development of team capacity.     

Adjourning:  This stage involves the dissolution or disbanding of the team once the goal has been achieved. Leaders can help the team navigate this final phase by celebrating the achievements and learning from the process, ensuring team members are acknowledged and transitions are managed smoothly.

6 Steps to Foster High-Performing Teams

With Tuckman’s framework in mind, here are six steps you can take to help you build and sustain a high-performing team:

  1. Define and Communicate Clear Goals: Make your goals tangible and achievable. Ensure every team member understands the team’s objectives and how these align with the organization's vision.
  2. Foster an Environment of Trust: Promote integrity, consistency, and transparency within the team. Leaders should model these behaviors and set expectations for the team.
  3. Encourage Diversity of Thought: Actively seek out and value different perspectives and skills within the team. Create a culture where every voice is heard, respected, and valued.
  4. Use Development Models: Apply Tuckman’s stages as a framework to guide your team through each phase of development. Be proactive in managing the transitions between these stages.
  5. Promote Continuous Learning: Encourage team members to pursue personal and professional growth, which contributes to the team’s collective expertise and success.
  6. Regularly Review and Adapt: Hold regular check-ins to assess progress, celebrate successes, learn from failures, and make necessary adjustments to team strategies.


So how do you know your team has reached a high performance level? Well, aside from achieving goals, there are some less tangible benefits you might notice as well. These include improved collaboration and efficiency, smoother problem solving, and stronger resilience to setbacks and better adaptability to challenges. 

Ultimately, it’s important to remember that building a high-performing team is a process that takes time. Structured development like Tuckman’s framework can make building a high-performing team easier, but your team’s success will come down to your own skills as a leader. 

And if you want to hone your leadership skills, you’ve come to the right place. Schedule a call with me to discuss your leadership challenges and start to strategize how to overcome them. 

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