In general, most teams possess the following characteristics:
- They are united by priorities and goals that align with organizational priorities.
- Communication within the team is clear, streamlined, and collaborative. Conflict, when it does occur, is always seen as a way to improve.
- The most important tasks are completed first, with the team able to distinguish between urgency and impact.
- There is a strong culture of trust where members are respected for their unique skills and are encouraged to be themselves or take risks.
- All high-performance management teams have a growth mindset. They look for opportunities to improve and have the ability to accept and use feedback to their advantage.
|Concept Overview||High-Performance Teams (HPTs) are groups of individuals who collaborate and work together seamlessly to achieve exceptional results and exceed expectations. These teams are characterized by their ability to consistently deliver outstanding performance, innovation, and productivity. HPTs are not limited to a specific industry or field; they can be found in various sectors, from business and sports to healthcare and the arts. Understanding the dynamics and principles behind HPTs is crucial for organizations aiming to excel in a competitive global landscape.|
|Key Principles||HPTs are guided by several key principles: |
1. Common Goals: Team members share a clear and compelling vision, mission, and set of goals that guide their actions.
2. Trust and Collaboration: Trust and open communication are essential for building strong relationships among team members. Collaboration is encouraged, and conflicts are addressed constructively.
3. Complementary Skills: HPTs often consist of individuals with diverse skills, experiences, and backgrounds that complement each other.
4. Clear Roles and Responsibilities: Each team member understands their role and responsibilities, which are aligned with the team’s goals.
5. Accountability: Team members are accountable for their performance and hold each other responsible for achieving objectives.
6. Adaptability: HPTs are agile and adaptable, capable of adjusting to changing circumstances and opportunities.
7. Continuous Improvement: A commitment to ongoing learning and improvement is inherent in the team culture.
|Characteristics||High-Performance Teams typically exhibit the following characteristics: |
1. Exceptional Results: They consistently achieve and often surpass their performance targets.
2. Innovation: HPTs are innovative, seeking out new approaches and solutions to challenges.
3. High Morale: Team members are motivated and engaged, leading to high levels of job satisfaction.
4. Effective Communication: Open and effective communication is a hallmark of HPTs.
5. Adaptability: These teams are resilient and can pivot quickly in response to changing circumstances.
6. Shared Vision: Team members are aligned with a shared vision and purpose.
7. Trust and Cohesion: Strong interpersonal relationships and trust bonds the team together.
|Formation and Development||– High-Performance Teams are not formed overnight; they typically go through stages of development, such as forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. – Building an HPT requires intentional effort, including team-building activities, training, and ongoing support. Leadership plays a crucial role in guiding and nurturing the team throughout its journey.|
|Benefits and Impact||High-Performance Teams offer several benefits and impacts: |
1. Competitive Advantage: They provide a competitive edge by consistently delivering superior results.
2. Innovation: HPTs are often hubs of creativity and innovation.
3. Employee Satisfaction: Team members enjoy a high level of job satisfaction due to their sense of achievement and camaraderie.
4. Organizational Success: HPTs contribute significantly to the overall success and performance of organizations.
5. Learning and Development: Team members have opportunities for growth and skill development.
|Challenges and Pitfalls||Challenges in maintaining HPTs include conflicts and disagreements, which can arise during the “storming” phase of team development. Additionally, sustaining high levels of performance can be demanding and may lead to burnout if not managed properly. Leadership turnover or changes in team composition can also disrupt HPTs.|
When General Electric set a goal to produce the largest commercial jet engine in the world, the stakes were high. The engine, dubbed the GE90, was the first such engine GE had designed from scratch in more than twenty years. What’s more, the development of the GE90 had cost $1.5 billion before it had even progressed to the manufacturing stage.
Then-CEO Jack Welch recognized that factory manager Robert Henderson could not accomplish this gargantuan task on his own: “We know where productivity comes from. It comes from challenged, empowered, excited, rewarded teams of people.” Despite this realization, both Henderson and Welch understood that factories were mostly unempowered workplaces where individuals felt like small cogs in a vast machine.
To develop high-performance teams within a factory environment, Henderson visited other establishments with high employee autonomy for inspiration. He then hired employees with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) mechanic’s licenses instead of simply hiring general mechanics. This resulted in a far superior team that was capable of making crucial decisions on their own, which increased productivity and morale.
Henderson also stressed the importance of decluttering and contracted out non-job-related tasks such as bathroom and breakroom cleaning. The goal of this initiative was to allow factory employees to focus their skills and expertise where it mattered most.
As a company operating in the dynamic and disruptive consumer electronics industry, Apple relies on high-performance teams to innovate and maintain the company’s market dominance.
Apple’s research and development arm consists of a high-functioning and a largely self-managed team of designers, quality control experts, and professional engineers. To attract the best talent, the company relies on a rigorous recruitment process that was instituted by Steve Jobs.
In the early days of the company, candidates would start at 9 in the morning and spend the whole day meeting everyone in the building at least once. The hiring team would then convene and decide whether the candidate would progress to the next stage. This involved showing them a Macintosh prototype, with Jobs only hiring those who were genuinely excited and enthusiastic about the new piece of technology before them.
Boeing uses high-performance teams to make the company a better place to work via employee involvement. In a 2004 interview for the company magazine, Chief People and Administration Officer Laurette Koellner noted that “Competitors can duplicate our technologies and processes; however, they can’t duplicate our people. Our people are our competitive advantage.”
At its core, employee involvement at Boeing means staff can influence decisions that affect their work. Instead of the top-down, hierarchical approach, high-performance teams take responsibility for managing their workspaces and making process or workflow improvements. This means teams are afforded more autonomy and free access to important data and technology that makes their life easier.
One example of this process at work is the self-managed team that used to manufacture the struts for a Boeing 757. Based far away from company headquarters in Wichita, Kansas, teams at the strut factory were given the training, resources, and responsibility to manage the factory as if it were a standalone business.
- High-performance teams are characterized by collaborative communication and goals that align with organizational objectives. Team members also trust and respect one another and adopt a growth mindset.
- General Electric relied on high-performance teams to build the world’s largest commercial jet engine. Apple, on the other hand, relies on high-performance teams to maintain a competitive advantage.
- At Boeing, teams can influence decisions that affect their work and are given more autonomy and control over their areas of expertise.
Key Highlights of High-Performance Teams and Their Examples:
- Characteristics of High-Performance Teams:
- Alignment: Teams share priorities and goals consistent with organizational objectives.
- Clear Communication: Collaborative and streamlined communication with a positive view of conflict.
- Task Prioritization: Ability to distinguish between urgency and impact, focusing on critical tasks first.
- Trust and Respect: Strong culture of trust where individual skills are valued, and risks are encouraged.
- Growth Mindset: Openness to improvement and utilization of feedback.
- General Electric (GE):
- GE aimed to develop the largest commercial jet engine, the GE90.
- CEO Jack Welch recognized the power of empowered teams for productivity.
- Factory manager Robert Henderson empowered teams, hired skilled personnel, and streamlined processes.
- Emphasis on decluttering and focusing expertise for improved productivity.
- Apple’s R&D team consists of self-managed experts to drive innovation.
- Rigorous recruitment process to attract top talent.
- Early recruitment process involved meeting everyone in the company and assessing genuine enthusiasm.
- Boeing leverages high-performance teams to improve employee involvement.
- Employee involvement enables decision-making that affects work processes.
- Autonomy and access to technology provided to teams for improved productivity.
- Example of a self-managed team in a Boeing 757 strut factory.
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