— 8 min read

As a manager, team leader or a CEO you know that one of the underlying success factors is having a High-Performance Team. Even when pitching your startup, the number one attribute investors are looking for is an All-Star team.

HPTs – High-Performance Teams by definition are groups or organizations that are highly focused on their goals and achieve superior business results.

Not knowing what makes a High-Performance Team can ruin your business and even cost your job, because in the end of the day results are all that matter. The most crucial side-effect of having a low performer in your team is that it is dragging down the high-performers. Whether they are carrying the low-performers on their back or trying to improve them. Consequently, they are not focusing their efforts on improving themselves.

Fortunately, there is a lot a leader or a manager can do to select the right people and create the right environment for growth. The secret here is knowing the unique traits of a high-performance team and using that knowledge to your advantage when building a successful team. After going through all the case studies and research articles I ended up with 9 traits that separate the high-performers from low-performers. Know what they are and implement that knowledge by putting together a High-Performance Team yourself.

High-Performing Teams

1. Talent Magnet

To spot a strong team you simply have to look for the team everybody wants to be on. For example, Google recruits on the basis of having passion, intelligence and a “learning animal mindset”. The insight here is to look for potential stars who are looking for challenges and a place where they can demonstrate their skills.

2. Healthy Heated Debates

The difference between HPT and LPT is that a heated debate doesn't cause HPTs to fragment. Instead of becoming more isolated during tough times, these teams actually gain strength and develop cohesion. According to Gallup, HPTs contributed more equally to team's discussions, rather than letting 1 or 2 people dominate the group. As a team leader you should make sure that everybody talks in equal measure and keep their contributions short. Team members should face one another keeping conversations and gestures energetic.

3. Diversity

Diversity unlocks innovation and drives market growth. Most engaged teams welcome diversity of age, gender, and race, while disengaged teams may do the opposite. Apple has made diversity a priority by hiring 65% more women, 50% more Black and 66% more Hispanic employees. In the process of putting together your team make sure you have people with different backgrounds, gender and strengths.

4. Mind Reading

Researchers from M.I.T. found that HPT members scored higher on a test called Reading the Mind in the Eyes. It measures how well people read complex emotional states from images of faces with only the eyes visible. It is also known that people with high emotional IQ work well with others and are effective in leading change. For instance, Google relies more on recruits with emotional intelligence rather than the grades they received in school. Therefore, find a suitable test or interview format to find people with higher emotional IQ.

5. More Women

In this case it is not “diversity” that matters for a team’s intelligence, but simply having more women. Teams with more women outperformed teams with more men. Coming back to the previous point, it's partly explained by the fact that women, on average, are better at “mindreading” than men. In order to have a HPT, recruit more women on your team or company who also have other “high-performing” qualities.

6. Laser-like Focus on Goals

HPTs are able to keep the larger goal in view. They are consistently able to put what's best for the organization ahead of their own egos. In addition, they seek out evidence and try to remain as objective as possible. Once a decision is made, these teams are remarkably quick to rally around it. As a team leader, you should establish an overall goal and make it visible for the whole team and set key metrics to measure them. The most popular method for that is Objectives and Key Results, which is used by the likes of LinkedIn, Google and Intel.

7. Doing Your Best Every Day

Deloitte used the Gallup 1.4 million employee study to see what are the similarities between high and low performing teams. Most powerful commonality between HPTs is the belief that they are doing their best every day. In order to capitalize on that knowledge, team leaders should help team members to define their strengths and give tasks accordingly. For instance, Deloitte set out a clear goal: “We want to spend more time helping people use their strengths”.

8. Work-life balance

Most successful teams have members who are equally engaged to their personal lives as they are to their work. Mervyn Davies, former chairman of Standard Chartered's, said that he took as much pride in the amount of time he spent with his family as he did in his bank's extraordinary performance. Therefore, you should look for people who are equally committed to work and their free time.

9. Group Engagement Outside Formal Meetings

According to M.I.T. Human Dynamics Laboratory, the best predictors of productivity are team's energy and engagement outside formal meetings. These two factors explained ⅓ of the variations in dollar productivity among groups. The laboratory used a call center for their study and asked the manager to make the employees have a coffee break at the same time. That little tweak increased the overall efficiency by 8% and 20% in worst-performing teams. As a team leader, make sure you create communication opportunities for your team outside the formal environment.

9 Unique Traits of High-Performing Teams from Weekdone.com

Now you know the unique traits that high-performance teams are made of. We urge you to build your own and strive for the best. With Weekdone you can get real-time status updates how your high-performers are doing and give them the feedback they deserve.