For the last four years, we have worked with a lot of teams. Some teams are small family shops and others are Fortune 500 companies. We have worked with political teams, state and federal agencies, healthcare, manufacturing, textile, and customer service-based teams. The size of the organization doesn’t necessarily predict the success of the team. Having the right people on a team, in the right positions, and under the right manager are key. Once these aspects are in place, we have witnessed some telltale signs of strong, high-performing teams. Here is what they have in common:
1. Conflict doesn’t destroy results. Contrary to popular thought, the best high-performing teams have lots of conflict and team members don’t always agree with one another. Instead, they are often characterized by healthy, heated arguments. What separates the debate into one that is healthy, is that the conflict does not cause a fragmented team. Instead, the team actually gains strength and cohesion during these times. They use the conflict to drive them to a higher level of decision-making.
2. Strong teams prioritize the organization over their own ego. One team that we worked with spent many hours in a long, heated debate. After months of intense discussions, “John” technically lost the argument. It would have been easy for him to sit and sulk and create dissension with a bad attitude. Instead, he quickly rebounded and asked what he could do to help make the decision work. Great teams focus on having discussions where every view point is heard; but once a decision has been made, they jump on board to help make the decision work for everyone involved.
3. Individual team members are committed to their personal lives just as much as to their work lives. We have noticed that the most successful workers work long and hard at their jobs but also show the same intensity with their family. There isn’t one part of their lives that is weak. They remain just as committed to each part and in that, they seem to feel balanced and happy with their home and their work.
4. Strong teams embrace diversity. Some of the best leadership teams we work with have great diversity of age, race, gender, cultural background, and educational background. They are rich in resources and new ideas. They allow team members to be heard and to speak freely. Teams composed of people who look similar and think alike might get along, but they miss the gaps in their thinking.
5. High performing teams are a magnet for talent. People want to come to work and join an organization of successful, high-performers. Potential stars see success and instead of being intimidated by hard work and the challenge of responsibility, they seek out these teams specifically.
Building a strong team takes a substantial amount of time and effort. Getting the right strengths on a team is a good starting point, but it is not enough. For a team to grow, the leader must invest in the team members and build better relationships among the group members. When leaders can do this, it frees up the team members to spend even more time thinking about the needs of the people they serve.