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Building High Performance Teams Within SME’s

Posted by: Marc


What distinguishes a team from a bunch of people who work alongside each other?

Managing a group of individuals requires a delicate balancing act. Personal career goals must be taken into consideration over the long term, or else you face losing top talent to a competitor. On a daily basis, however, that group of individuals should be working together to achieve the common goals of the team. It’s the combination of individual and collective choices working in concert that makes a team superior.

There are a number of characteristics which define a high performance team:

Commitment to quality. High-performance teams share a commitment to achieving results of the highest standard, and always aim for the best possible outcome.

An effective combination of people. In business, the composition of a team is just as crucial to the end result as picking the right players in sport. One weak link and the whole project can collapse.

A shared vision. Establishing a clear goal for the team as a whole, achievable through individual and collective effort.

Critical analysis of performance. The ability to recognize when the team has not performed as well as it could, analyze the situation without finger-pointing and defensiveness, and take corrective action accordingly.

In a globalized jobs market where job-switching is far more frequent than it used to be, forming a team with these qualities – and keeping them together – is no mean feat. We’ve identified four actionable steps you can take to build a culture of high performance in your business:

1) Create a sense of belonging and emotional security. A results-oriented culture can only arise when people are made to feel safe enough – psychologically and emotionally – to share ideas without fear of recrimination or ridicule. Often, the very best ideas are the most outlandish ones, and nobody is going to pipe up with their leftfield marketing proposal unless they feel completely safe. Equally important is fostering a sense of belonging to something bigger than the individual, where each member of the team can see how their input is tied to the whole picture.

2) Give credit where its due. When a task is accomplished according to plan, the individual or individuals responsible should know that they are appreciated. As a manager, you should openly offer some specific, authentic praise when you see things going well. Don’t fall into the cynical trap of assuming praise will breed complacency – if you’ve got the right people in place, they will respond to affirmation by working even harder.

3) Provide clarity and transparency. When briefing staff on their objectives, avoid ambiguity at all costs. Of course, all ideas should be given air time during the creative planning stage of a project. But once the details have been nailed down, you’ll achieve better results by setting binary goals. A binary requirement is either met, or it isn’t – there’s no room for fudging results. By making your expectations clear, you help build that all-important sense of security: everyone knows what they’re doing, and the risk of personal conflicts is greatly reduced. Instead of saying “let’s improve on our sales this quarter” try going for “let’s achieve a 10% increase in sales this quarter” – a clear objective that leaves no room for individual interpretation.

4) Make everyone accountable. Just as you should show appreciation when it’s deserved, the flipside is a need to encourage accountability from every team member. Nobody wants to be involved in an exercise in mediocrity – it’s demoralizing and leads to disengagement – so demanding mutual accountability is essential for a culture of high performance.


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Marc is a Director of The Talent Hive and leads our IT recruitment practice. Originally from the UK, Marc has been living in Christchurch, New Zealand for ten years and working in the recruitment sector for just as long. Marc has worked as an in-house recruiter and within multinational recruitment consultancies and independent recruitment businesses.

At The Talent Hive we specialise in connecting IT & Engineering professionals with the right career opportunities. We encourage collaboration, socialising your success and sharing industry insight and expertise. Start the journey, connect with The Talent Hive today.

Categorised as: High Performance Teams, Talent Search & Management