Blog

Dan Pontefract

March 1, 2013 by Speakers' Spotlight

The Four Traits of a High Performing Team

Dan Pontefract,  head of learning and collaboration at TELUS and the author of Flat Army: Creating a Connected and Engaged Organization, shares a recent article he wrote on the meaning of teamwork:

The word “team” itself is both interesting and loaded. You can use it as a verb (eg. I teamed up with Kiran and Mario to design a video) or you may choose to use it as a noun. (eg. that Manchester United team was dramatically outplayed by Barcelona FC).

It’s a loaded word because inside an organization, we’re always questioning what makes up a good and/or high performing team. We’re ranked, evaluated, prodded and quizzed on our level of team engagement, team satisfaction, and team morale, not to mention all of those provided learning paths that help us become better team members, team leaders, and team contributors.

There are project teams, learning teams, business unit teams, customer teams, community teams, and teams of teams.

Quite frankly, the term “team” is omnipresent.

I’ve been mulling over the term for years. Why do some teams fail whilst others click right away? Why can you feel completely connected on one team and that very same day, in another team, you feel disengaged and apathetic? Why are some teams more rigid than others? Why do some teams feel they can’t accomplish anything whereas others knock home runs out of the park by the nanosecond?

I don’t really know.

What I do know, however, is that there are four key traits that seem to help a team prosper, ultimately giving it the opportunity to become high performing.

These traits may not be exhaustive, but they can be demonstrable as it pertains to your level of success.

  • Thoughtful
    • We all have bad days. We all have families. We all have interests. We all despise brussel sprouts. (ok, maybe that’s just me). To be thoughtful is to take interest in the other members of your team, whatever the team situation may be. Take account of those precious anecdotes that others may serve up, or better yet, inquire (be thoughtful) and ask how things are going. To be thoughtless does nothing to help you achieve a high performing team status.
  • Educators
    • Don’t hoard–share. Don’t operate in a silo–collaborate. It’s incumbent upon every team member, regardless of title or rank, to share, to give back, and to educate others within the team. By doing so, you are not only connecting one another to each others knowledge, information and data, but you are also building relationships within the team that will help serve your overarching goals. Being an open educator loosely equates to being collaborative.
  • Aligned
    • No one likes rogue team members. Furthermore, no one wants duplicate actions or objectives. If one is proactive, and the team is completely in the loop on all individual AND team goals, the team is aligned and can more easily operate as a high performing group. Why are individual goals set without others aligned to them? Why are team goals set by a leader without input and alignment from the team itself? If one engages and explores with the team, as a whole, up front prior to action commencing, one is seeking proactive alignment and that’s music to any team member’s ears.
  • Measured
    • In the NHL, the measurement is the Stanley Cup. In European Football, the measurement is the Champions League Trophy. A team, to be high performing, should set its sights on a series of measurements that map back to the aligned goals and actions of the individual team members and the team itself. No one wants to be on a team that sits in limbo, who are unclear when objectives are due, to what level of quality or satisfaction, thus (as a team) establishing measured goals and actions will further enhance the chances of producing a high performing team.