Efficient, dynamic teamwork can be what sets a business apart under any circumstances, and has proven to be one of the key drivers of business performance. Although effective collaboration has always been important, the digital age has made it all the more crucial – a 2016 study by Deloitte concluded that our increasingly digital world of work had caused a shift from the traditional functional hierarchy to one it called a “network of teams”. COVID-19 and its effect on our professional lives has now amplified this further, making strong teams even more key to success.
But what makes a high performing team, especially during a pandemic? And how do we foster these characteristics in our own workplaces?
Successful teams are made up of individuals who are all working toward the same mission, and this becomes even more important when many teams are no longer working from the same physical space. When team members understand and are aligned with the goals, culture and values of an organization, they are more motivated to contribute to them, and they are more likely to act and make decisions in accordance with them too. It’s therefore necessary that these are clearly and frequently communicated and reinforced by team leaders, whether it be for a short-term project or an entire company.
2. Clear roles and responsibilities
Each member of a team should know their role within it and exactly how they are contributing to the common goal. According to Deloitte’s 2020 Global Human Capital Trends report, “when workers appreciate how their individual work helps to advance goals they support and find meaningful, they will likely be more engaged, more motivated, and more likely to perform at a high level.” The study shows that a massive 93% of respondents believe that a sense of belonging drives organizational performance. This means that everyone’s roles and responsibilities should be defined, even if it means clarifying that everyone should be helping out with everything.
3. Open and frequent communication
The importance of communication in any type of relationship is no secret, and this is true for teams in a professional context as well, especially in our increasingly digital and remote world. Creating spaces (on and offline) for team members to share progress, ask questions, and voice concerns can ensure that everyone remains on the same page, can drive forward momentum, and can allow conflict to be addressed before it causes any issues.
4. A culture of collaboration
Thirty-one percent of people report that having a sense of community and identifying with a defined group – connection – is the biggest driver of belonging. Instilling a mentality of “if one person wins, we all win” can help foster meaningful relationships between coworkers and encourage colleagues to help each other and leverage individual strengths for the benefit of the team. Positive relationships also allow people to feel comfortable sharing their views and engaging in constructive conflict, helping to generate new insight.
5. A learning mentality
The best teams are constantly finding ways to improve, and the most effective way to do this is to create an environment that encourages innovation. This means allowing for and adapting from mistakes, experimentation and failure – even actively encouraging it. This allows different perspectives and ideas to thrive, leading to a team that adjusts and adapts based on new information and is better for it.
Different forms of feedback are integral to building high performing teams. Constructive feedback to spur development is part of this, as is celebrating good work and showing appreciation for team members’ individual contributions. A third aspect of feedback is measuring impact, both in order to highlight what a team’s work has resulted in, and in order to see if an approach needs to be adapted based on information learned.