How To Build High Performing Teams?

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The social media explosion has made us present to a human phenomena; the emergence of self-organising groups. Be it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc, we get to see people converging and organising into groups based on common views, affiliations, interests, and relationships. These self-created virtual spaces facilitate shared ideas and realisations. I am sure most of us follow or participate in online self-organised forums that have been created with a common interest and a shared world view that even you subscribe too. The intent seems clear, teams are founded on shared ownership perform better. But what is exactly the technology behind this? Is it all about setting corporate goals and giving freedom to motivated members enough to generate high performing teams?Let us examine the issue:

The Structure of High Performing Teams

A high performing team is first and foremost a team. Alex van der Star in his article on Characteristics of High-performance teams list eight fundamentals:

In a team:

Leadership is fulfilled by shared leadership roles (in a working group, leadership is strong and clearly focused);

Members have individual and mutual accountability (in a working group, accountability is on an individual level);

The purpose motive comes from a specific team purpose that the team itself delivers (in a working group, the purpose motive is the same as the broader organizational mission);

People work on individual and collective work products (as opposed to a working group, where members only work on individual work products);

Performance is greater than the sum of the individual bests of the team members (in a working group performance is the sum of the individual bests of its members);

The meeting goal is to have an open-ended discussion and active problem solving (in a working group it is efficiency);

The focus of the meeting process is on the discussion, decisions and real working together (in a working group these are discussion, decisions, and delegation), and;

The measurement of effectiveness is directly done by assessing collective work products (in a working group it is indirectly measured by its influence on others).

Based on the above, a self-organising team would be dependent on:

A specific team purpose that the team itself created

Mutual accountability that each individual commits to. Each team member takes responsibility for the result obtained by the team as a whole.

Result Orientation where it is not the individual output, but the collective output that counts.

Open-ended discussion and decision making. On an established zone of trust and mutual understanding.

Sound inter-team communication. Team members give each other constructive feedback and collaborate. Conflict is a necessary occurrence borne from free thinking and candor, hence dealt with as the desired output.

Agile mindsets create Self Organising and High Performing Teams by default. Due to its inherent practice and ideology, Agile transforms groups into highly efficient and vibrant teams due to the following accomplishments that get set:

Agile team members have a place where they can add the most value. Each team member aligns his personal goals with the team goal.

In Agile, leadership within the team occurs naturally; Agile demands shared leadership roles. It permits autonomy on the task at the functional level.

Agile allows extensive use of metrics and encourages objectivity in decision making. Agile allows effectiveness to be directly measured by assessing the collective work outcome.

In Agile teams comes up with improvement initiatives continuously. The team is willing to invest to become better.

Agile teams are iterative and depend on innovation and new thinking. Agile team members share their ideas actively and the team cares for relationships outside of the team.

Agile team members are collaborative in nature. There exist healthy attitudes within the team. There are established rules for their way of working and the team has frequent, fun, team building activities.

The agile team manages and examines its own performance. Team members are able to identify the constraints within the team and act on it, whether it is some process that does not work or a team member who does not perform. The team is able to solve inter-team conflicts as a matter of routine.

An Agile team has a will to be technically excellent and proficient.

As times get tough, working together intensifies. Agile enables every team member with a strong sense of loyalty, commitment and purpose towards the team.

There is more to leading a self-organizing team than exercising leadership and getting out of the way. Agile Leaders influence teams in nonintrusive and indirect ways. It is impossible for a leader to accurately predict how a team will respond to a change, whether that change is a different team composition, new standards of performance, a stringent selection system, or so on. Leaders will never have all the answers, but Agile helps him address them in a more fulfilling and constructive manner. Agile creates empowered leaders, leading teams that are self-generating and fully integrated towards the achievement of high-performance tasks and goals.

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