Article (July-2019)


Building high performance teams

Niharika G Bhardwaj

Designation : -   Head HR

Organization : -  Indiabulls Housing Finance, Mumbai (W)


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Increasing competition and focus on building innovation led competencies within organisations demand effective, efficient and high quality delivery. High performing teams (HPT) are identified within businesses to drive this objective efficiently. HPTs outperform all expectations and achieve superior business results for a given organisation and mark an area of utmost importance in building organisational structures. Various discussions and studies on the subject across the globe have outlined the ways one can effectively build and deploy such teams. However, in the midst of technological advancements, increasing number of remote workers and need for partnerships, the topic demands a deeper understanding.

High performing teams or HPTs constitute individual strengths combined with the right leadership to deliver high quality results aligned to business objectives. HPTs are generally formed with highly skilled professionals from cross functional areas and focus on achieving a common business goal. Organisations need HPTs for specialised projects that require an efficient task force to perform result driven business. HPTs are also efficient in supporting process change within the business with their multidirectional communication abilities and skill sharing.

HPTs are equipped to set in organisational/process changes and foster a culture of result driven performance across levels with continuous engagement with other teams. While companies largely perceive the need for HPTs for specific projects, they can also be used for year round development within the enterprise. It however is up to a company to determine how long such teams are required to function.

Depending on the nature and scale of the business, one or more HPTs may be required within an organisation. Creating interdependencies within teams with specialised tasks assigned to each member is only the first step towards success. Each team must be led by competent business heads with stellar leadership skills.

Capable leaders can streamline timely process delivery and simultaneously identify and resolve issues to ensure smooth functioning of the team as one. Team leaders should also focus on 'inspiring' than just driving business goals. They should carve out individual strengths and potential of each member and encourage them to stretch beyond boundaries. Building synergies and a cooperative environment are also very crucial for HPTs to perform as expected.

Let us look at 5 key components/characteristics that HPTs must have and work upon within the team to deliver clear, tangible and efficient results.

1. Integrity & mutual respect : Teams can perform better if there is mutual understanding of challenges and potentials alike. Every person is a high performing individual with specific skills and delivery routines. Therefore, mutual respect towards each other's work and capabilities will enhance quality of bond amongst members and create opportunities for feedback and capacity building. Taking on a challenge as a single entity and the will to deliver the best solution is powered by the value of integrity.

2. Clear communication : An open channel of communication between team members and with team leader is crucial to build understanding of common goals and team vision.

3. Exchange of feedback : Treating each member as an asset to the team and exchanging feedback in an assertive, constructive manner is significant to building an environment of collaboration. If the team's agenda is to innovate, members should be able to ask questions and challenge existing processes if they have a solution/way to do something in a better way than how it's defined by the processes.

4. Decision making : There needs be a clear set of rules defining how decisions will be taken in a team, whether unanimously as a democratic process or by the leader. The rules should be clearly conveyed to each member and agreed upon to avoid loss of time in the process.

5. Set eyes on the collective mission : Embarking on a collective mission helps HPTs to stay on path. Team members perform better when they see beyond their individual workloads and believe in working for the purpose of team. Focusing on completion of a project causes efficiencies to be channelised in the right direction.

According to a McKinsey Report published in 2017, when members of a top performing team work together towards a common vision and achieving a common goal, the likelihood of having above-median financial performance increases by 1.9 times. The report also stated that employees are five times more productive when working in a HPT than in an average team. Building a HPT is one of the proven business efficiency techniques organisations are rapidly adapting to nowadays. Smart organisations are already speaking about the importance of building HPTs to tackle high-stake challenges. Many of them have already incorporated HPT training as a best practice. As the world moves to more complex business functions with concentrated competition in each vertical, HPTs are providing the answer to achieving business excellence.