• Saturday, July 20, 2024
businessday logo


High performance teamwork: Key to business success


social scientist conducted an experiment; he asked groups of engineers, CEO’s, primary school kids and a random set of people to build a structure as tall as they can. The materials: spaghetti and chewing gum. The time: 30 minutes. The engineers built the highest structure, but what comes next is interesting. The primary school kids beat the CEO’s with a significant difference in structure height every time.

A high performing team is more than a group of people who work together. It is a group of people with complementary skills, who trust each other, hold each other accountable and are committed to achieving outstanding results. The best organisations, whether they are multibillion dollar corporations or small mom and pop shops, accomplish this through building high performance teams.

The rationale behind how this is even possible is the key to high performance teamwork.

How does one build a high performance team? To build a high performing team, a business manager should look to developing

Trust: Create training activities that encourage trust among teams, various team building exercises can either be developed in-house or a learning and development firm can be hired to develop and implement one.

A Clear Brief: Create an excellent brief anyone can understand, it must be clear, concise and complete; it must not be ambiguous and contain no assumptions. Many teams go around in circles only because they do not understand what they were meant to do as opposed to incompetence.

Procedures and Processes: Decrypt job roles with process maps and policy documents that enable each team member to know what to do and exactly how to go about it .Make sure everyone knows exactly what they will be held responsible for on the team.

Purposeful Leadership: Give them a leader, people need someone to look up to when they work; they need someone they can escalate issues to and the absence of good leadership will only lead to a prolonged storming period amongst team members.

The three pillars of high performance teams. A high performance team is built on 3 main pillars: Design- What the team does; Relations- How the member relates and charter- Why the team exists.

Design- this is why the engineers won each time, they knew exactly how to do the job well and so spent less time debating who should do what and when. Standardisation of procedures and roles is a must have for every high performance team.

The charter- every functioning team must have a reason for being, they must have a shared goal that they all want to see achieved above anything else. In our research story the CEO’s wanted to show how smart they all were and implement their negotiations skills, while the kids just wanted to build the thing.

Relations– unlike adults, kids tend to get along quite easily. While the other groups were trying to figure out who to trust, the kids just moved to getting the job done since they didn’t have to worry about trust issues and back stabbing colleagues who want to steal all the shine.

The outcome of high performance teamwork, members of high performance teams achieve: Excellent customer service; increased profitability; reduced operating costs; improved efficiency and cycle time; Elevated behaviour to the highest level; Clarified roles and responsibilities; Motivation to achieve something big; Lowered turnover; increased creativity and lowered costs 

Indeed, outstanding results achieved by organisations can be traced largely to such organisations haven deliberately built high performing teams over a period of time. This fact cannot be overemphasised: building a high performing team is a major requirement for organisations to achieve outstanding results!

Bolaji Olagunju