A high-performance team is more than a collection of smart, ambitious, excellent human beings who have been tasked with solving a problem together. Instead, it is a group of people who share goals and values, and whose skills complement each other. To meet their common goals, they develop incredibly effective means of communication and collaboration. And a crucial aspect of this dynamic is a deep level of trust and respect for each other. Of course, if was as simple as it definition sounds, there would be a lot more high-performance teams! So, how do you go about developing a team that outperforms all the others? At Brilliant People™, we focus on the following five areas:  

  1. Shared vision, purpose and goals  
  2. Building trust  
  3. Effectively communicating 
  4. Managing conflict constructively 
  5. Encouraging diversity 

Share Vision

 “The more clear you are about what you want the more likely you are to achieve it.” Billy Cox 

Let’s start with focusing on the same vision, purpose and goals. A high-performance team is one who can directly tie their work to the vision of the company. Seeing the purpose behind their job absolutely relates to how much a team member will engage at work. In fact, 70 percent of people say they define their purpose through work. To improve how a team functions, develop goals that correspond to the company’s vision and the individual’s purpose.  

Build Trust

“Trust is the highest form of human motivation.” Stephen Covey 

Second, to create a high-performance team, teammates must work to build trust with each other. This involves getting to know each other on a personal basis. Things like whether they have a family, their hobbies, likes, dislikes, workstyle, and what motivates and demotivates them are a great place to start. But to really get to know someone, it helps to understand their background. Things like why they chose their profession and their current job, whether they grew up in an urban or rural area, if they have siblings, and where the fall in the line-up can all offer insight into why people show up at work the way they do. And the trust that can develop from getting to know someone well has been shown to improve psychological safety, encourages innovation, and enhances moral. 

Communicate Often & Effectively

“In teamwork, silence isn’t golden. It’s deadly.” Mark Sanborn  

The third way to encourage high-performance teams is to improve communication which means doing it frequently and effectively. Frequently involves making sure that all team members understand what is expected of them on a daily, quarterly, annual and project basis. Finding a channel where communication can flow freely, and everyone has access to it, is an important aspect of creating clear communication. And so is keeping it concise and to the point.  

Communicating often is important, but so is being able to communicate effectively. Many people think they are good communicators, but research shows that nearly 75 percent of communications that are received are interpreted incorrectly. So, taking the time to listen more than you speak is a first good step. But as important is the idea of meeting people where they are. Get to know their personality type so that you can engage in the way that comes naturally to them. You’ll get to know your teammates better through this process and continue to layer onto the trust you started to build with #2. 

Constructive Conflict

“To rumble is a discussion, conversation or meeting defined by a commitment to lean into vulnerability. It’s to stay curious and generous. You stick with the “messy middle” of problem identification and solving. The goal is to serve the work and each other, not our egos.” Brene Brown 

The fourth aspect of a high-performance team is to manage conflict constructively. This doesn’t mean that conflict won’t exist. Instead, it means that when conflict arises, teammates will work through it constructively. Successful teams create team norms around conflict so that everyone knows what’s expected when it does arise. For example, it can be very helpful to determine ahead of time things like whether it’s ok to yell or curse. Or whether it’s ok to discuss the conflict through email, or with others.  

And it’s just as important to set the expectation that it’s ok to have differing opinions and ways of doing things if everyone is respectful to each other. The idea is to encourage the team to consider conflict as a means to truth and innovation. Brene Brown, calls it “rumbling”. If you’d like to use her rumble language with your team, you can follow this link.  

Value Diversity

“Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference.” Jane Goodall 

Lastly, a high-performance team is diverse and values their diversity. Different backgrounds, personalities, and experiences on one team allow team members the opportunity to fill each other’s gaps in varied and often unexpected ways.  Of course, people differences often trigger people problems, so the team must be willing to stay open-minded and try to find some common ground. This will involve all of the other steps discussed here. And in doing so will foster empathy and understanding. Both of which contribute to good working relationships and teams that succeed.   


“None of us is as smart as all of us.” Ken Blanchard 

Teams are a dime a dozen, but high-performance teams are something special. The excellent results they produce don’t come easily or by mistake. It takes time and effort to get to know each teammate well enough to see their value and know how to work with them in spite of any differences. This involves sharing a vision, purpose and goals and building trust on the team. But it also includes learning to communicate effectively and often so that miscommunication is lessened. And when it does occur, it involves following the pre-set norms around how to handle the conflict constructively. Finally, it involves seeing people for who they are and valuing them because of it. Working on these five areas, will push your team forward on its path to becoming a high-performance team. 

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