Recently I had the pleasure of teaching a High-Performance Team (HPT) class for one of my favorite clients. When I deliver this workshop I use an HPT competency model that I developed after more than a dozen years of teaching teamwork to companies all over the world. Here it is:
John Spence HPT Competency Model
Shared Direction: although someone from above may set the ultimate direction for the team, on an HPT the members of the team have some sort of input and control over the shared direction they all create together for the team.
Measurable Goals: on a true HPT the vision is supported by a set of clear, specific, quantifiable… and binary measurements. The measurements must be unambiguous. You either achieved it or you didn’t. Black or white/yes or no/zero or one – hence the reason I use the term “binary.”
Competence: You want the best people you can possibly get on your team. Bright, sharp, creative, high integrity people with strong core values.
Communication: the hallmark of an HPT is high levels of open, honest, robust and most importantly transparent communication. The key to success on HPT is total access to as much information as you can possibly give and get. Knowledge is not power on HPT – sharing knowledge is power.
Mutual Accountability: this is the fulcrum point between a workgroup, team and a true high-performance team. On a successful HPT everyone on the team – regardless of rank, title, seniority, experience – holds each other and themselves 100% mutually accountable for achieving the clear, specific, measurable, and binary goals. This is why it is so important to put clear and unambiguous measures in place, because that allows you to take personality and emotion out of the equation – and simply focus on performance. If you say to someone on the team “I don’t feel like you’re doing a good job,” or “I don’t think you actually accomplish that goal,” it is an invitation for conflict. But if the goals are unambiguous, no guessing, 100% binary… then you can look at the person and say “you and I are good teammates and I really like you a lot, but it is clear that the goal was to increase sales by 83% and we have only increase sales by 63%, what do you intend to do to close the gap?” In this way it is members of the team against the measurable goals – not against each other.
Discipline: lastly an HPT has the discipline to keep all of these team factors at the front of their mind at all times – they bake it into the culture of their team and make sure that they never forget about measurable goals, competence, communication, shared direction and best people, the foundational elements of a successful HPT.
At the end of the session, after we had done several workshops and some reading, I asked the participants to create an HPT competency model specifically for their organization. I thought that you would find value in what this group of employees and executives developed:
Trust: honesty, integrity, a culture of safety where you can express your ideas and opinions without fear.
Respect: listen, realize that all team members contribute, everyone on the team adds value.
Clear Goals: specific, realistic and clear expectations with the tools to get them achieved and clear prioritization of the goals.
Appreciation: catch people doing things right, celebrate the big and small wins.
Positive Attitude: be nice, smile, embrace change as a positive.
Leaders Must Model The Way: in order to lead a team you must be competent at the work of the team and understand enough about what your employees/team members are doing in order to manage and lead them effectively.
Clear Communication: open to new ideas, listening, and empathetic.
Strong Commitment: alignment with the organization and full commitment to the team and to the goals.
This list came from a group of more than 50 employees and senior leaders at a very large multibillion-dollar organization. However, I would venture a guess that regardless of the size of your organization, these high-performance team competencies that both I, and this client listed, are likely very similar to the skills and characteristics that would be needed to create a high-performance team in your company. So I recommend that you reread both those lists again and think about how you can make sure that those things are happening in your organization every single day.
I hope you found this helpful – I very much look forward to your feedback and comments on this article. Take good care – my very best to you – John Spence