What makes a high performing team?

All of us have been on plenty of teams in various aspects of our lives.  If you’re like me, some have been awesome experiences while others were, perhaps, not as positive.  Having a well-functioning team is immensely important not only for your own interests, but for the best interests of your customer as well.  In thinking about some of the high-performance teams I’ve been a part of, they have some shared characteristics:

  1. Common goals – team members understand the overall objectives, and their roles in meeting or exceeding their goals.  Knowing each other’s roles, and how individuals can work together to meet common objectives goes a long way too.   Without common goals and associated communication, confusion can arise.  High performing teams clearly understand the goals they’re being asked to achieve.


  1. Recognizing individual strengths – some of the best teams I’ve been part of have strong diversity, with a broad range of strengths. Examples include team members who are creative, analytical, strategic, organized, detail-oriented, communicators, relationship builders…just to name a few.   It’s fascinating to watch the different perspectives emerge on a high performing team.   And when these strengths work together towards a common goal, the results can be, phenomenal.


  1. Communication – an overly used term for sure, but in a high performing team, individuals are empowered to raise issues, discuss important questions, and share new ideas.  Messages are heard, followed up on, and open dialogue becomes part of the culture.    When there are questions, people ask.  Usually if we don’t know the answer, others on the team are also probably wondering.   Asking the question, when we don’t know, is always better than assuming.  Open communication is key to success.


  1. Honoring commitments – whether it’s to your customers, team members or other parties, teams have commitments to keep. High performing teams honor their commitments, or keep stakeholders updated if plans change, and a new due date is designated.   People are depending on the team, so it’s critical to keep others updated on progress continually.


  1. Respect – team members will disagree on issues over time…that’s just the way it is. The highest performing teams have members who respect each other, and each other’s areas of expertise.  They work together to address differences while maintaining respect for one another.


  1. Have Fun – high performing teams enjoy what they’re doing, and they have fun together. They work very hard, but they also make time to relax a little bit and enjoy each other’s company.  Sharing a laugh together can go a long way.  I’ve heard it said that if a team doesn’t have fun some of the time, they’re probably not a high performing team.


There are lots of other aspects to high performing teams, but these come to mind when I think about my own experiences.   I think it’s helpful for all of us to take a step back from time to time and look at the teams we’re a part of, and consider what we can do to help make it an even higher performing team.  Doing so can be extremely rewarding!

-Penny Sullivan, Director of Customer Care | MITTERA

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