A team isn’t just a group of people. It is a group of people that have the same goal and are willing to collaborate together in order to have a common result. Not all teams are created equal though ; some are more high performing than others. A high performing team can be defined as a group of people that have specialized expertise and skills and that are focused on achieving a goal by innovating, producing consistently superior results (Sias & Cahill, 1998).
Managers try to create work environments that produce this kind of high performance in various ways ; team building being an essential one. Let’s see how you could optimize your current team into a higher performing one ; starting with the most common barriers.
What leads to team dysfunction :
Here are some of the most common barriers to team performances. They can be useful indicators to determine if a team is actually performing well or not : (Jessica Watson, 2020).
- Imposed passivity : When members of the team aren’t encouraged to engage, and when the leadership is too unilateral and not democratic.
- Unclear communication : Having poor communication leads to poor decision making. Decisions are taken by addressing and valuing the experience of all the team members. The complimentary of their skills creates multiple viewpoints in which the team can nourish itself.
- Lack of mutual trust : The team has to be cohesive as an entity, where members trust each other and their capacities.
- Unclear goals and roles : it is one thing to have good communication, trust, but there has to be clearly outlined tasks and goals. When team members are unsure about goals, their roles are also unclear. This results in a lack of commitment and engagement in the team.
- Poor emotional relationships : Team members should bond over their work but also other activities that engage other kinds of emotions. This will create a more authentic and positive environment.
How does your team develop itself :
You can work on these points during the development phase of a group, but also have to maintain the group dynamic : team building is an ongoing process. Here is a useful framework of team development in four phases (Tuckman, 1965). It is widely used today and will enable you to understand the dynamics of your team, and how to orient its evolution :
At this stage, individuals are trying to get to know each other. Their sense of commitment to the team isn’t formed yet. The team gets more cohesive as the goals of the project are outlined precisely, and expectations are clear. Operating styles of the members of the team start to emerge.
This stage is when team members may start to challenge the established roles, which can lead to different levels of conflict with the leader or with colleagues.
Once these initial conflicts are worked through, the team can start to develop properly. It is through the regulation of these conflicts that the group will grow and become more cohesive. All group members have differences that can cause friction. By being exposed and solving the potential issues, the group learns to work together despite these differences. The leader plays the role of mediator and facilitator in this process.
Normally at this stage, the team should be more or less functional. The members have managed to identify how to make their relationships work toward a shared goal. The relationship with the leader is established in a respectful way ; where no team member feels left out.
Common characteristics of high performing teams
Now that you have a better understanding of what could be your team issues, and at what stage they could be problematic, you might be wondering how to improve your team performances. A high performing team has three strong units : autonomy, competence, and relatedness.
Within the context of the pandemic, autonomy has been improved, but relatedness has declined in general.There are many ways to balance this effect, such as using new technologies like VR in team building activities (Gagné, Deci, 2005). Here some of the habits of the higher performing teams (Friedman, 2014) :
– Well directed meetings :
High performing teams have reported to be more likely to have meetings that begin with a check-in to keep team members aware of one another’s progress, prework from participants, and to introduce an agenda.
– Giving and Receiving appreciation :
As we’ve mentioned, one of the pillars of team performance is relatedness. This can be achieved through the feeling of recognition as a motivator, rather than monetary incentives. By giving and receiving more appreciation from the leaders but also from colleagues, workers feel more valued and respected and are more inclined to work efficiently (Bosch, 2013).
– Authenticity :
When team workers feel comfortable enough to express more positivity but also negativity, it is a sign of good cohesion in the team. When the leader has an authentic management style, they create an environment with higher levels of wellbeing, which contributes to higher performances (Sutton, A. (2020).
Our VR Team Building and Team Assessment Services
We are the VR team building specialists and we combine the best of team building with the best of VR to create some truly unique experiences for your teams.
We also offer team assessment and diagnostics, we can help you determine where your team currently is in terms of team performance and importantly what you can do to move them to a high performance stage.
Contact us now for an informal chat about your team development needs.
Bosch, 2013, Authentic Worker’s Well-Being and Performance: The Relationship Between Authenticity at Work, Well-Being, and Work Outcomes, The Journal of Psychology Interdisciplinary and Applied Volume 148, 2014 – Issue 6,
Friedman, 2014. The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace,New York, USA: Perigee, Penguin Group
Gagné, Deci, 2005. Self-determination theory and work
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Jehn, & Shah, 1997. Interpersonal relationships and task performance: An examination of mediation processes in friendship and acquaintance groups. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72(4)
Sias, & Cahill, 1998. From coworkers to friends: The development of peer friendships in the workplace. Western Journal of Communication, 62(3), 273–299
Sutton, 2020. Living the good life: A meta-analysis of authenticity, well-being and engagement. Personality and Individual Differences, 153
Tuckman (1965). “Developmental sequence in small groups”. Psychological Bulletin. 63 (6)
Watson, 2020. Building the peloton: High-performance team-building in the future of work A report from the Deloitte Australia Centre for the Edge