Building high performing teams

May 25, 2012 | Hamilton, Ontario
Contributed by Jim Matthews, '96

Part 3 of a series

Building great teams involves adapting to change. This has always been true but, given the speed that industries, companies, competition and customers change today, it is an imperative like never before.

Previously, I spoke about making an impact to the business. You owe it to yourself and your team to ensure that the vision and objectives you have for the group will make an impact to your customers and/or bottom line measurements. I would also include morale, but in the long run, this must be in support of the other two or you risk having a jazzed up team that is out of step. Two of Jack Welsh’s four E’s of leadership include energizing yourself and energizing others. By aligning your efforts to the organization’s top challenges, it is much easier to motivate people to the cause.

Establish a “no whine zone”. I always look for people who demonstrate a high level of accountability for their results, both professionally and personally. When you blame and complain, you drastically reduce your ability to affect a positive outcome. Although many things can and will happen that seem unfair, a team that confidently drives to positive outcomes, in spite of circumstances, is very tough to beat.

Make people and team development a priority. The basics of open and honest communication, coaching performance, providing feedback (positive and constructive criticism) and just making time for people are all critical in establishing an environment where individuals and teams can flourish.

Finally, as Steven Covey has said, think win-win and, I would add, always be sincere and straight with people. When people see that you are genuinely considering their interests, they will be more inclined to trust you. When this is coupled with adaptability, well aligned goals, accountability and learning, your results will go up and your teams will almost certainly be high performing.

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