To create high performing teams that are more effective, following steps could prove to be helpful:
1. Size of the work Teams: The size of the work teams affects the performance of the teams to a larger extent as the best work teams tend to be small in size. As the group members have to share the ideas and information, interact with each other and take the decision, it will become difficult if the group is very large. Larger groups generally lack commitment, cohesiveness and mutual accountability, which are very essential for achieving high performance. The optimum member of members in a group should be from 10 to 15. If the group is larger, manager should try to break it into sub groups.
2. Selection of Members: Efficient managers choose members for teams on the basis of their existing skills and also on the basis of their potential to improve the existing skills and learn new ones. No team succeeds without all the skills needed to meet its purpose and performance goals. To perform effectively, generally a team requires three different types of skills:
(i) Technical skills.
(ii) Problems solving and decision making skills, so that the employees are able to identify problems, generate alternatives, evaluate those alternatives and make competent choices.
(iii) Interpersonal skills e.g. good listening, feed back, conflict resolution etc.
The right mix of all the three skills is essential for the teams for achieving their performance potential.
3. Belief in the purpose of the team: Teams work best in a compelling context. All the members of the team are required to believe that the team has worthwhile and urgent purposes. They like to know the expectations from them. the more meaningful and urgent is the purpose of the team, the more are the chances that the members of the team will live up to the expectations, as was the case for a customer-service team that was told that further growth for the entire company would be impossible without major improvements in that area. Teams work best in a compelling context. This is the reason why organization that have strong performance ethics generally form teams willingly.
4. Selecting right people for the tasks: Effective teams are those which properly match people to various roles. The principle of “Right man for the right Job” should be followed by the team. Teams have different needs and people should be selected in the teams on the basis of their personalities and preferences. By matching individual preference with team role demands, mangers increase the likelihood that team members will work well together. Therefore, the job of every manager is to understand the strengths that each person can being to a team, select members with their strengths in mind and allocate work assignments that fit with member’s preferred styles.
5. Preliminary observations: Particular attention should be paid to actions and the first meetings as the first impression is always very important. When the members of prospective teams meet for the first time, every member is looking at the signals that are given by other members. This way the members make their own assumptions or in case they already have some information, they use these signals to substantiate, defer or dismiss these assumptions. Actions speak louder than words. Particular attention is paid to what, the team leaders or the executives, who otherwise influence the team, do or how they behave. Initial impressions always carry weights.
6. Purpose of the team: Every team should have a meaningful purpose towards which all the members should be committed. This common and meaningful purpose, which is generally broader than the specific goals, provides direction, momentum and aspiration for members. Every team should have a common purpose which is acceptable to the whole team. Members of successful teams spend a tremendous amount of time and efforts into discussing shaping and agreeing upon a common purpose. This purpose should be such which is acceptable to them as individual as well as collectively as a team.
7. Code of Conduct for the members of team: All the effective teams set some clear rules or behavior in the beginning which helps these teams to attain their goals. The most critical codes of conduct pertain to:
(i) Attendance, punctually and regularity.
(iii) Analytical approach i.e. to speak only on the basis of facts.
(v) Constructive confrontation i.e. no finger pointing.
(vi.) Contributions in the form of real work.
8. Establishing Specific Goals for teams: The common purpose of the successful team is translated into specific, measurable and realistic performance goals. The success of most of the teams can be traced back to major performance oriented measures. Such measures can be initiated by establishing the performance goals. Teams cannot exist without performance outcomes. Specific goals help teams maintain their focus on getting results.
9. Common Approach: After the specific goals have been established, high performance teams also need leadership and structure to provide focus and attention. A common approach ensures that the team is unified for the purposes of achieving the goals. In this context the team members must agree upon the following issues. Who is to do what, How to share the workload, How the schedules are to be set, how and what skills are to be developed, how to resolve the conflicts, how to make and modify the decisions? To agree upon all the above matters, team leadership and structure are required. Leadership and structure can be provided by the management or by the team members themselves.
10. Supplying latest information to the teams: Teams generally make mistakes when they come to the conclusion that all information required is already present in the combined understanding and experience of the team members. A team leader should challenge the team members regularly by providing them with new information. It will cause the team to redefine and enrich is understanding of the performance challenge thereby, helping the team shape a common purpose, set clearer goals and improve its common approach.
11. Encouraging personal bonding: Team members must spend considerable time with each other, particularly during the early phases. It is very important to build up the personal bonding and creative insights which is possible through casual interactions as well as analyzing the facts and interviewing the customers. It is not necessary that all the members should always be together physically, but they can be together by talking over the phone or with the help of other means of communication.
12. Making every member individually responsible and accountable: In an effective time, individuals are made individually and jointly accountable for the team purpose, goals and approach. Every member should be very clear as to what he is individually responsible for. Otherwise some members try to hide inside a group. They try to take advantage of the group efforts because their individual contribution can’t be identified. This tendency can be curbed by making the individuals accountable at both individual as well as team level.
13. Suitable Performance Evaluation: As the individuals are accountable at both the individuals at both the individuals as well as the team levels, the traditional methods of evaluating individual’s performance will not be consistent with the development of high performance team. Thus, the management should consider group based performance appraisals along with individual performance evaluations.
14. Recognition and Rewards: Positive reinforcement can improve teams effort and commitment. There are a lot of methods to recognize and reward the performance of a team like profit sharing, small group incentives etc. Suitable awards can be given to the members of the team to recognize the contributions made by them. However, in the end the satisfaction shared by a team over its own performance becomes a cherished award in itself.
15. Developing Trust among Members: These should be high level of mutual trust among members. They should believe in the integrity, character, competence, consistency loyalty and openness of each other. Building up and maintaining trust requires a careful attention by the management as it takes a lot of time to build but can be easily destroyed and is hard to regain. Moreover trust and distrust begets distrust. Thus, for high performance teams, it is a must that there should be high degree of mutual trust among the team members.