Posted by: magnussonllc | March 11, 2010

15 Characteristics of a High Performing Team

Almost all high performing teams have certain key characteristics in common. Continuously analyzing and evaluating the team based on these criteria is critical in order to keep the team dynamic and effective. Here are the top 15 key characteristics of a high performing team:

1. Clearly stated vision, mission and goals

A team requires a clearly stated purpose and goals; not just an understanding of what needs to be done at the moment, but an understanding of the overall focus of the team. Shared goals and objectives leads to commitments. Members of high-performing teams share a sense of common purpose. They are clear about the team’s “work” and why it is important. They can describe what the team intends to achieve and have developed mutually agreed upon and challenging goals that clearly relate to the team’s vision. Strategies for achieving goals are clear. Each member understands their role in realizing the vision.

2. Operates creatively

 Experimentation and creativity are vital signs of a dynamic team. Dynamic teams take calculated risks by trying different ways of doing things. They aren’t afraid of failure and they look for opportunities to implement new processes and techniques. They are also flexible and creative when dealing with problems and making decisions.

3. Focuses on results

The ability to produce what is required, when it is required, is a true test. A dynamic team is capable of achieving results beyond the sum of its individuals. There is a commitment to high standards and quality results. They get the job done, meet deadlines, and achieve goals. Members have developed strong skills in group processes, as well as, task accomplishment. Team members continually meet time, budget and quality commitments.

4. Clarifies roles and responsibilities

A dynamic team clarifies roles and responsibilities for all its members. Each team member knows what is expected, and knows the roles of fellow team members. A dynamic team updates its roles and responsibilities to keep up with changing demands, objectives and technologies. Team leaders ensure that each is cross-trained in other responsibilities so that everyone can support each other when needed. The team leader makes sure that individual job responsibilities are fulfilled, but, at the same time, works to help individuals develop a common language, processes and approaches that allow them to function as a team.

5. Is well-organized

 A high performing team defines protocols, procedures and policies from the very beginning. Structure allows a team to meet the demands of any tasks it must handle. Information is easy to access and available at all times for the team members.

6. Builds upon individual strengths

Leaders of high performing teams regularly catalog their team’s knowledge, skills and talents.  Team leaders are aware of their members’ strengths and weaknesses, so they can effectively draw upon individual competencies. There is an appreciation for individual style differences, natural gifts, and personal experience. The members of the team are encouraged to use the language of acceptance and appreciation, rather than criticism and judgment. The team leader consciously hires team members who bring complementary skill sets, unique experience, and diverse perspectives.

7. Supports leadership and each other

Dynamic teams share leadership roles among members. Such teams give every member the opportunity to “shine” as the leader. Team members also appreciate formal supervisory roles, because the formal leaders of a dynamic team support team efforts and respect individual uniqueness.

8. Develops team climate

A high performing team has members whom enthusiastically work well together with a high degree of involvement and group energy (synergy).  Collectively, individual members feel more productive and find that team activities renew their interest and spirit. Such a team develops a distinct character of its own.

9. Resolves disagreements

 Disagreements occurs in all teams. It’s not necessarily negative or destructive. A dynamic team deals openly with conflict and try to resolve it through honest discussion tempered by mutual trust.

10. Communicates openly

Members of a dynamic team talk to each other directly and honestly. The team is committed to open communication and members feel they can state their opinions, thoughts, and feelings without fear. Listening is considered as important as speaking. Differences of opinion and perspective are valued and methods of managing conflict are understood. Each person solicits suggestions from other members, fully considers what is said, and then builds on their ideas. Through honest and caring feedback, members are aware of their strengths and weaknesses as team members. There is an atmosphere of trust and acceptance and a sense of community in a team. Group cohesion is very high.

11. Makes objective decisions

 Dynamic teams have well-established, proactive approaches to solving problems and making decisions. Decisions are reached through consensus; everybody must be able to “live with” and willingly support decisions. Members feel free to  express their feelings about any decision. Team members clearly understand and accept all decisions, and they develop contingency plans.

12. Evaluates its own effectiveness

 A team needs to routinely examine itself to see how it’s doing. “Continuous improvement” and “proactive management” are operating philosophies of dynamic teams. If performance problems arise, they can be resolved before they become serious.

13. Facilitates productive meetings

 A high performing team has effective, productive, well-managed meetings that efficiently use team members’ time. Every meeting is focused, timely, necessary, and is used to solve problems, make decisions, disseminate information, and enhance team member skills.

14. Recognizes and celebrates success

In a high performing team, individual and team accomplishments are frequently recognized by the team leader, as well as, by team members. The team celebrates milestones, accomplishments and events. Team accomplishments are also noticed and valued by the larger organization.

15. Takes pride in teams work

Members in high performing teams are enthusiastic about the work of the team, and each person feels pride in being a member of the team. They are confident, committed and optimistic about the future. There is a sense of excitement about individual and team accomplishments, and the way team members work together. Team spirit is high.

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