How to Build a Super Performing Team — Part 1

This is the 1st installment in a 2-Part mini series.

In the 2nd part I will be drilling down to the 7 C’s that I believe are fundamental in giving you the edge in creating, building and sustaining a Super Performing team. Guiding how you approach, understand and work with the reality and complexity that will unfold as you take a team beyond it’s core capacity and capabilities; enabling it to become far greater than the sum of its parts.

In this 1st one however, I want to dig a little deeper into some of the more general stuff that you need to take account of as you go about building that Super Performing team.

In 1972, Richard Beckhard of Harvard University, proposed that for a Team to optimise its potential, move forward & achieve great things, it 1st had to manage 4 ‘Internal Areas’.

These were — goals, roles, processes & relationships.

Subsequent research however found a 5th area which should not be overlooked and when you think it through, of course, you’ll see it was rather obvious. As this 5th area was focused around how the Team interacted, both with the wider organisation and the external environment.

All of the 5 areas are important, but some will impact to a greater or lesser degree on each of the others, so let’s take a closer look at them in turn:

  • Environment: You can’t ignore the potential impact of the Organisation upon the Team and beyond that the impact of the wider world on performance: Tensions can arise if the Team is physically distant or remote; is not given sufficient resources to do the job; individual members have stuff going on in other parts of their lives that remains unaddressed; or individuals are not recognised (which is subtly different from being appropriately rewarded);
  • Goals: Is the Team clear about what it exists to do? Have all been asked and are they able to answer the ‘2 Fundamental Questions’ test — i.e. ‘What are we here to do’ & ‘What will enable us to do it better’? And is there clear and open communication?
  • Roles: Does each team member know who does what and why? If responsibilities are not clearly defined there is a very real danger of a vacuum being created to fill a perceived void with the attendant risk that everyone starts looking in different directions with no common purpose and using any excess energy to brief against each other;
  • Processes: Do team members understand how they should work together? What is fundamental and required to ensure this happens? Is there mutual support and respect? And again has the common purpose been shared?
  • Relationships: If goals, roles & processes have not been clearly defined and communicated, the vacuum then created can generate defensive patterns of behaviour, competition between team members and general dysfunction.

A Super Performing Team needs high challenge & high support, &, remember that Organisations are complex adaptive systems and Teams are living entities being rooted, fed, watered and nurtured within that complexity.

Research suggests that individual employees who are fully engaged are 10% more likely to exceed performance expectations. In the team context however, this engagement can have a multiplier effect, and fully engaged team members become 50% more likely to outperform expectations, whilst Superior Performers are 30% more productive overall!

Food for thought perhaps and a compelling case for putting in the heavy lifting to build a Super Performing team.

Paul Mudd is the author of ‘Uncovering Mindfulness: In Search Of A Life More Meaningful’ available on Amazon and www.bookboon.com; the ‘Coffee & A Cup of Mindfulness’ and the ‘Mindful Hacks For Mindful Living & Mindful Working’ series. He is also a Contributing Author to The Huffington Post and a Contributing Writer to Thrive Global. Through The Mudd Partnership he works with business leaders, organisations and individuals in support of change, leadership excellence, business growth, organistional and individual wellbeing and well doing, and introducing Mindfulness. He can be contacted at paul@themuddpartnership.co.uk and you can follow the continuing journey uncovering Mindfulness on Twitter @TheMindfulBook and at @Paul_Mudd