High Performance Team

Before we discuss how to have a high performance team, let’s define first, what is TEAM?

According to Merriam-Webster, the most trustworthy dictionary and thesaurus of American English, they define team as:  a number of persons associated together in work or activity: such as a group on one side (as in football or a debate).

In John Katzenbach and Douglas Smith book, The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-Performance Organization, they define team as “A small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals and an approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable”(1993).

I like how they added in their definition “an approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable”. I think, the most common issue/problem that a team faces is when something go/went wrong, they pin-point out who’s fault is it, instead of trying to resolve the issue/problem. Or when something good/accomplish something, a team member gets all the credit that actually create an issue as well. Whether it’s good or bad, everybody in the team is mutually accountable.

Characteristics of High-Performance Team


  1. To have a clearly defined and commonly shared purpose. If you are in a team, isn’t it better the all members are on the same page as to what really is the team’s goal? I think this is very important for a team to have so that everyone knows their purpose and not just everyone doing their own thing.
  2. To have mutual trust and respect. Like the Golden rule of Confucius says: “Do not impose on others what you do not wish for yourself”. This is a basic concept but really makes a huge difference in a team. If you give respect and your trust to other people, they will give you respect and trust as well. Are you not going to feel appreciated and happy to know that your team trust and respect you? This can actually change the environment and treatment whenever you and your team members are going to meet up.
  3. To have clarity around individual roles and responsibilities. Have you ever been in a team somebody is doing all the work and you do not clearly know what your role in the team is and ended up you didn’t do anything? Do you feel happy and part of the team? Do you feel needed? Knowing your role in a team makes you feel committed in doing something for the team. If you don’t know what your role is, how are you going to be encouraged to go to team’s meeting and be part of the team?
  4. To have high levels of communication.  Like I always mention to all my blogs. Communication is really one of the most highlight in having an effective team. Can you imagine if you’ll be in a team where nobody communicates to one another? Do you think that team will accomplish something together? Without communication, duplication of work will always happen because you do not know what other people are doing too. That will just be a waste of time and effort.
  5. To have the willingness to work towards the greater good of the team. If you will see your team members doing their part and working hard for the team, are you not going  to be inspired to be motivated to do your part and do your best as well? If all the team members will have the willingness and thinking about the team being successful, it will be easier for other team member to follow and this is something that all team member should do.
  6. To have a climate of co-operation. It is called “TEAM” for a purpose. Each team member is supposed to help each other out whenever somebody in the team needs help or offer help whenever you know something that can be helpful to others. Keeping in mind that your success is the success of the whole team.
  7. To have an ability to voice differences and appreciate conflict. We can never choose who we are going to work with in workplace but if we appreciate and respect each and everyone, see beyond the differences, a team will be successful. And if this will be all possible if everyone will communicate to one another and treat each other as a family.

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Katzenbach, J., & Smith, D. (1993). The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-Performance Organization. Harvard Business School Press.

Cook, S. (2009). Building a High Performance Team : Proven Techniques for Effective Team Working. Ely: IT Governance Publishing.


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