Five Characteristics of High-Performing Teams

by | Jan 1, 2016

Darcy Luoma is one of America’s most highly credentialed coaches. She’s worked in 48 industries, with more than 500 organizations, and has impacted tens of thousands of leaders and employees.

I recently presented a new workshop on creating high-performing teams. As I was developing the presentation, my thoughts kept coming back to my own team. Without them, I would never be able to do all I do. Is it luck that this group came together? Nope. It wasn’t luck at all. It has been a very intentional process that included knowing what characteristics make a good team and building my team with that in mind every step of the way.

Here are five of the most critical characteristics of high performing teams, and how we’ve used these concepts in building my team.

Five Characteristics of High-Performing Teams

#1 Connection

Teams that are deeply connected are committed to a common purpose and shared vision. They have a strong sense of team identity and team members trust one another. I have found this is true with my own team at Darcy Luoma Coaching & Consulting, LLC. (DLCC).

I have a team that truly believes in my vision. We continue to work together to further define that vision, starting with a two-day strategic planning retreat where we identified our five year vision, and our specific goals for 2016.

#2 Communication

I think it goes without saying that one of the characteristics of a high-performing team is excellent communication. So let’s clarify what that means…it means that there are clear expectations and roles. It’s essential that every team member knows their own role as well as the role of every other team member. They also engage in healthy conflict. Disagreements are viewed as a good thing. Criticism is constructive and is oriented toward problem solving and removing obstacles.

How has this played out on my team at Darcy Luoma Coaching & Consulting, LLC? We have a weekly team meeting as a structure to support strong communication. We also have healthy conflict. We challenge each other and disagree. This creates stronger action plans and results.

#3 Commitment

High-performing teams are committed to each other. Commitment is a function of two things: clarity and buy-in. Great teams make clear and timely decisions, and they move forward with complete buy-in from everyone. Team members feel like they belong to something that matters. As humans, we naturally seek out something bigger than ourselves to belong to.

We are fulfilling this deep, human need on my DLCC team by creating an environment where we are inspired by the work we do, and each of us can see how our work is tied to the big picture. We make clear decisions with specific actions and accountability, so each of us is fully committed.

#4 Collaboration

A team’s ability to engage in passionate, unfiltered debate about what’s needed to succeed is as important in determining their success as any product or service they provide. Great teams create a culture of positivity and appreciation. They also welcome a diversity of strengths and skills…the more differences that exist on a team, the smarter it can be! The best teams also design effective team processes.

At DLCC, we have diverse strengths: an analyst who is excellent with all the nitty gritty details (Pam), a nurturer who makes sure people feel good through the process (Molly), two “get er done” people who are masterful at project management and follow through (Deb and Libby), and a visionary who inspires and sparks creative, innovative thinking (Jill). This makes for some really fun discussions and work meetings!

#5 Celebration

High-performing teams celebrate what they’ve created! They set high standards for performance that are clearly defined, measurable, and are consistently met by individual team members and the team. They also make an an effort to identify and celebrate key milestones along the way. It’s important to take time to collectively celebrate individual and team achievements. Recognizing achievements not only fortifies a team’s identity, but it also spotlights the team’s effectiveness and collective passion for excellence.

Celebration is often overlooked and, admittedly, this isn’t my greatest strength. However, I’m thrilled to report that my team (and spouses…but no kids!) is going to celebrate with an evening out in downtown Madison in two weeks. Dinner, cocktails, and fun are all on the menu!

There you have it. Five characteristics to creating high performing teams. It’s important to recognize that teams don’t just happen. They must be intentionally created and actively managed. It’s hard work! But if you put in the effort, you will see the results. I can personally attest to that! My hope is that you can be part of a truly high-performing team.

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