Art of Creating and Sustaining High-Performance​ Teams

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First and foremost leadership in an organization must carry a mindset of creating high-performance teams and not focus on only dynamics of teams. In my consulting experience, I have mostly come across organizations that only troubleshoot team dynamics or develop skills and competencies for eff­ective performance. Creation and sustenance of high-performance teams require a very diverse style of management.

It is my endeavor in this article to present my thoughts based on the real-time experience of such projects. It also includes a background of instituting my own organization over the last fourteen years and as a corporate entity for over a decade which I was happy to give up in my quest for entrepreneurship.

Mostly leaders do not get the opportunity to craft high-performance teams. Teams are primarily inherited with their legacy dynamics. However one must realize creation, sustenance, and destruction is the key to any success. Creation is easy at a concept stage, but with the formation, the cycle of cause and e­ect starts immediately. A team performance

is always an outcome of collective causes and e­ffects. My endeavor always has been in the study of the collective cause. Organizations dither destruction of what exists and try to tweak around for sustenance. This is a flawed practice. It is imperative to keep the process of catharsis on.

The following should be implemented on priority for the establishment of a high-performance culture:

1. Members with chronic pitiable attitudes must be made to relinquish their responsibilities; they are a drag on the system and ensure initiatives fail. Poor attitude reflects in terms of persistently disengaged employees.

2. Employees who are too skilled and thus become larger than life must be rotated.

3. CTC that go beyond the returns on value from the job must be either rotated or outplaced.

4. Hire people based on their impetus for work. They must have the motivation to be a success. A mere talk of success does not help.

5. Cultivate a culture of continuous coaching; make managers coaches; make them accountable for creating successors.

6. Make the organization operate at top speed; swiftness ensures people are forced to work in unison with vision.

7. Invest in result oriented relationships by forming small project teams.

8. A leader’s job must be to clear impediments; politics is a significant roadblock.

9. Do a check on the emotional health of the team at regular intervals; people like to work in an environment of fairness and friendliness. A personal touch is a must.

10. Reward only top performers; have separate reward structure for other categories. Don’t forget to celebrate success.

People must understand the high-performance culture and own it. Management must ensure that organization culture is defined as a tangible model. The best way is to develop a “people excellence behavior framework” and coach teams around it. It is a powerful tool. However, I do not see many organizations practice it eff­ectively. All pivotal positions must be occupied only by those who model these behaviors. It’s time we migrate from mere competencies to behaviors of excellence.

Lastly, ensure the precise mix of age and tenure-ship; this is customized and unique to each team. Diversity makes workplace interesting. Please do realize an employee gets productive only after a year at work and in two year’s masters the job. This creates a risk of boredom so please do not hesitate to rotate. Variety brings in innovation which is the cornerstone of high performance. Rules for creation of high-performance teams remains the same except that one does not have to start with the painful process of purgation.

This inventive experience of building “high-performance team” is indeed enriching and rewarding. Once you move to a position of managing teams, metamorphose your identity from being a “manager” to a “creator of high-performance teams.” It is a path less traveled but exhilarating indeed. It is a journey that I adore the most in my life and sincerely hope it becomes a part of yours too.

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