About a year ago, I was hired to facilitate an executive leadership team through a strategic planning process. While there was a ton of individual talent, the team was anything but cohesive. Trust was low; conflict happened under the radar; there was little (if any) accountability; and the results were spotty.
I was met with resistance, disengagement, anger, and–on several occasions–tears.
Still, I was not discouraged. I understood that before this team could create, cascade, and execute a creative strategy, it had to be a cohesive team. So, with the team leader’s full support, we retrenched and focused on building a cohesive, high-performing team.
Today, this team is extremely pleased to be in the high-performing zone — if you saw them working together, you couldn’t help but notice the magic: high trust; productive conflict; commitment to the team and the process; accountability; and impressive results. (See Patrick Lencioni, The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team).
But it didn’t happen overnight.
HOW THEY DID IT – and how you can, too.
There is nothing like the magic of a high-performing team — if you’ve ever been a part of one, you’ll know what I mean. In the world of rowing, it’s known as “Swing“…”the hard-to-define feeling when near-perfect synchronization of motion occurs in the shell, enhancing the performance and speed.”
Because I have had the opportunity to work with a number of teams that have done the work to transform from “mediocre” to high-performing, I thought I’d share an overview of how they did it — and how you can, too.
1. Assess Your Team: Are They Storming or Performing?
Use Tuckman’s model of high-performing teams to determine which developmental stage your team is in: Forming, Storming, Norming or Performing.
Leadership Tip: While you may think you know where your team falls along this performance continuum, these assessment results are always an eye-opener.
- Ask each team member to take the assessment (10-15 minutes). Debrief the results with your team (we can help) and, together, formulate a plan that will move your team into “Performing”.
- This website provides a simple overview of the model and the characteristics of each stage…as well as how to move from one stage to the next.
2. Make Becoming a High-Performing Team Your #1 Goal.
Leadership Tip: Every high-performing team with whom I’ve worked has this goal as their #1 goal.
- This is work. Becoming a cohesive, high-performing team requires relentless focus and discipline. It is not a magical process.
- There are very specific steps the team – and you as a leader – can and must take to move toward high-performing.
3. Leadership Matters
Leadership Tip: “There are no bad teams, only bad leaders.” These are harsh words but I believe them.
- Thankfully, Tuckman provides concrete tips and guidance for leaders who are determined to move their team through Forming and Storming and into Norming and Performing: https://is.gd/kkOKun
- Make no mistake about it, your team’s level of performance and commitment will reflect your own. Feel free to refer to our earlier post on “Three Sure-Fire Tips to Becoming a Better Leader”.
While there is nothing like the magic of a high-performing team, the process to get there is anything but magical. It requires dedication, discipline, and determination. The payoff is priceless.
If you would like assistance (a lot or a little) building a cohesive, high-performing team, mapping your leadership journey, or crafting a successful strategy, we can help. We offer expert facilitation for team-building workshops and Retreats, and as an authorized partner for Everything DiSC™, have access to a suite of outstanding team-building assessments.