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7 min read

The crucial characteristics of high-performance teams

Develop high-performance teams to improve the organization’s bottom line through improved production, collaboration, and efficiency.
From Team '23

Tempo Team

You’ve crafted the perfect project plan, sourced the necessary resources, and applied all the right workflow processes. Still, outcomes are missing the mark. What’s going on?

A project manager can’t succeed alone. Team performance is a critical factor in business results. A dysfunctional team wastes time and resources, decreasing productivity and effectiveness. 

Unfortunately, high-performing teams don’t form on their own. Leadership and company culture nurture their development. It’s only through careful management, common goals, and a supportive workplace that a group transforms into a team.  

What is team performance management?

When team leaders manage performance, they ensure continuous improvement. Managers benchmark performance, set goals, and develop individual, group, or organizational strategies to foster an environment where teamwork thrives. 

Why is good team performance important?

Individuals may excel at completing simple tasks, but complex projects require a collective effort. Along with sharing the workload, team members deliver better outcomes via collaborative problem-solving, experimentation, and accountability.

Team development also fosters friendships and a sense of connection, which is especially important for the morale of remote workers. Studies have found that businesses with happy employees produce better results

Establishing high-performance teams benefits the company in the following ways:

  • Unlocks innovation: Work teams with diverse members are more creative and perform better than homogeneous groups.

  • Encourages professional growth: Feedback from team members builds awareness of unnoticed qualities and behaviors. Once recognized, you can strengthen or improve those functions.

  • Decreases burnout: Emotional support from peers reduces stress and significantly improves well-being.

  • Improves risk assessment: People often hesitate to take risks for fear of failure. A supportive team provides the psychological safety necessary to take chances that could yield breakthroughs.

  • Reduces errors: When the team functions well, members are less stressed. This improves cognitive performance, reducing oversights and mistakes. 

  • Boosts creativity: Brainstorming with people of different backgrounds and experiences often leads to innovative ideas, provided the group communicates effectively – a characteristic of high-performing teams. 

How to manage team performance

Boosting team performance starts at the top. As the project manager, you must motivate the group by modeling the actions you want to see and providing the resources for success. Start with these methods:

1. Set clear goals and expectations

Along with defined roles, clear expectations guide the team’s performance, helping them prioritize tasks. Encourage a cohesive effort by establishing common goals within the team charter that follows the SMART criteria:

  • Specific: Detail team member expectations, success metrics, and timelines

  • Measurable: Set simple, measurable expectations (e.g., completing six story points per week)

  • Achievable: Ensure goals are realistic

  • Relevant: Keep goals and objectives pertinent to the company’s goals and the employee’s role 

  • Time-based: Reasonable deadlines provide a healthy sense of urgency

2. Designate capable leaders

Consider designating an experienced group member as team leader to answer questions and provide assistance when you aren’t available. You’ll reduce stress and expand communication channels while fostering leadership skills, such as conflict management, among your direct reports.

3. Foster effective communication

Provide team members with ample communication channels. Implement a project management tool with a messaging app, track outstanding and completed tasks, and archive project documentation for easy reference. Establish a communication plan outlining when leadership will share project updates with the rest of the group. 

4. Hold regular check-ins

Connect regularly with your team and one-on-one with team members to discuss progress and contributions. Frequent meetings center objectives and clarify details, especially with large working units. 

5. Celebrate success

You must track your team’s progress to implement effective performance improvement strategies. When your team has a breakthrough, offer kudos and acknowledge their hard work. Celebrate with gifts, group meals, or team-building experiences. 

Don’t ignore shortfalls; treat them as a learning experience. This may require a tough conversation, especially when a change doesn’t work. However, these discussions are necessary to determine why an initiative failed and how to do better. Open communication and constructive feedback will cement a team culture that delivers future wins.  

Tips for an improved team performance

Motivate your team to improve by incorporating the following tactics into your management practice:

Support innovation

Innovation is vital for maintaining your organization’s competitive edge. However, good leaders don’t demand creativity; they nurture it.

Establish an environment that’s flexible, agile, and – most of all – inspiring. Encourage your team members to refresh their creative juices by taking breaks or brainstorming collectively. Let them work whenever they’re most productive.

Most importantly, model a fail-forward mentality that encourages experimentation. Instead of getting hung up on setbacks, focus on lessons learned.

Model desired behaviors

As the team leader, you can’t focus so intently on balancing budgets and schedules that you forget to establish team goals, priorities, and roles. And you can’t just talk the talk. You need to be a high-performance leader if you want a high-performance team.

Encourage team members to contribute their personal best by sharing how individual efforts contribute to team success. Be open to new ideas and take risks along the way. Create an environment of adaptability and continuous improvement to enhance productivity and performance.

Hire the right people

Hiring is about more than finding candidates with suitable skills and experience. You should seek applicants who will create a significant impact on the company. Ask questions during the interview that gauge behavior, communication skills, and opinions.

You should also consider how they’ll fit in with their coworkers. Conduct a group interview with members of your team to evaluate whether the candidate has qualities and personality traits that complement and enhance the team’s strengths.

Keep learning

Professional development is often the best way to improve team performance. Source training opportunities based on the results of performance evaluations. If you unearth a talent that requires additional training, you can recommend online or in-person courses. If you notice a common trend, establish a learning regimen or conduct workshops to get everyone up to speed. 

Consider cross-training your direct hires. Offer the graphic designer a chance to shadow the copywriting team. Let the software developer plan the next team-building exercise. By prioritizing team development, you’ll expand their skill set, make them more self-reliant, and drive enthusiasm.

Streamline processes

Sit down with your team to build improvement systems and identify opportunities for greater efficiency. Find ways to eliminate silos and connect everyone with the company. Fine-tuning processes boosts productivity and builds team alignment.

Build commitment

Your team should be committed to the company’s shared vision. That level of engagement comes from a company culture that motivates and celebrates dedication. 

These factors can increase employee buy-in:

  • Rewards for staff that go the extra mile

  • Transparent decision-making to build trust

  • Responsive leaders who welcome and act on employee feedback

  • Factual team communication

  • Accountability among senior management

These elements help team members feel connected to a greater community where their contributions are valued.

Consult the team when managing resources

Promote a collaborative spirit around significant decisions, improve your allotment accuracy, and reduce potential conflict by consulting qualified team members about resource allocation

Work together to prioritize resources based on mission-critical requirements while preserving the company’s strategic vision. Encourage contributors to support their suggestions using project metrics and data. You’ll secure greater team buy-in through collaboration than by dictating project decisions.

How Tempo can enhance your team’s performance

Leadership and a favorable workplace culture can boost your team’s performance. Specialized tools, such as Tempo Strategic Roadmaps, will take you over the top.

Strategic Roadmaps is a road-mapping application that allows you to plot out every step in your project plan. Using a boardroom-ready illustration of the process, your team can prioritize tasks, plot the critical path, and identify roadblocks. These exercises build alignment and understanding of the project’s strategic goals. Strategic Roadmaps is Jira-enabled, so you can harness the power of a best-in-class project management platform to deliver improved communication and transparency. 

With Tempo by your side, a high-performance team goes from theory to reality.