How to build and maintain a high-performing team


A report by Front outlined how successful teams operate and work together to get things done. Learn some observations and strategies to help guide your team to victory.

Diverse group of hands stacked up as a team
Image: REDPIXEL.PL/Shutterstock

I’m fortunate in my day job as a system administrator to work in a motivated, efficient and united team. We’re spread out across the country which can make it more challenging to build quality work relationships—especially when dealing with disparate time zones where people might be less than thrilled to join team meetings at 7 a.m.—but all in all, I’ve been pleased at the way we row together and jump in to help each other.

SEE: Google Workspace vs. Microsoft 365: A side-by-side analysis w/checklist (TechRepublic Premium)

 

Effective teamwork is more important than ever now in this era of remote work and faceless interactions. Zach Dunn, co-founder and VP of customer experience at Robin, had this to say about the concept: “Given the uncertainty created by omicron and employees’ preference for flexible work, meetings should be built ‘remote-first’ to accommodate and to ensure all participants are engaged. … In-office meetings will be rare if they happen at all. Instead, workplace leaders’ hybrid workplace must create a consistent employee experience regardless of where they are located.  In a pre-digital age, facetime was the currency of the workplace, but businesses need to evolve past this type of thinking to ensure their top performers have the tools necessary to get their work done.”

This reflects an ongoing trend involving how to get teams performing on high octane despite such challenges. A recent report by Front sought to uncover the secrets behind the DNA of a high-performing team.

Dr. Ronald Friedman, founder of Ignite80, worked with Front and offered these insights: “After surveying office workers and identifying the high-performers, there were some clear common behaviors and motivations that drive results for these teams. For example, the report found that high-performing team members actually pick up the phone and call each other 10 times a day on average and have perfected the efficient meeting.”

Friedman observed that there’s a science to running effective meetings, and the best teams know how to use it. The Front report found that, compared with average teams, high-performing teams run meetings differently. They are significantly more likely to require pre-work, utilize an agenda and kick off meetings with a check-in that keeps team members informed of one another’s progress. Those are all simple tweaks, yet they make a massive difference because they set the stage for more fruitful interactions, contributing to better colleague relationships.

SEE: 3 ways to reduce the time you spend in meetings (TechRepublic)

I can attest to the efficacy of that check-in among team members. Mine holds a daily standup which focuses on our top three items for the day as well as any roadblocks we’re facing. It’s rare to hear someone discuss a roadblock that someone else can’t offer up advice or assistance with, and that helps us help each other succeed.

What is the best way to do meetings? Whether it’s companies like Amazon claiming to have cracked the code or companies who are banning meetings altogether, managers and company leaders are always looking for better ways to meet and be as productive as possible.

Key observations and trends from Front’s report:

Authentic work relationships drive top performance (and job satisfaction)

High-performing teams are more likely to express positive and negative emotions, joke around, use GIFs and emojis, tease their teammates and curse around coworkers.

All of these represent a commitment to team morale and interconnectedness.

High-performing teams are not afraid to pick up the phone

While phone calls are increasingly becoming less common in the workplace, that’s not the case for high-performing teams. They use voice and video more often than their less successful counterparts, and communicate more frequently as a whole.

Bonding over non-work topics fuels stronger teams

High-performing team members are more likely to discuss non-work matters more often; talk about books, gossip and chat, and go out for coffee or drinks (where applicable).

I have found that pop cultural references—especially science fiction material, unsurprisingly—are always a hit with my team and can often lead to lengthy and enthusiastic discussions.

High-performing teams are more strategic with their meetings

High-performing teams are more likely to avoid spontaneous meetings, require pre-work before meetings, have an agenda for meetings, use meetings rituals (e.g. deliver daily updates based on alphabetical order of last names) and start with check-ins.

In my personal experience, I know my team well enough to know that none of us enjoy wasting time on the phone. Therefore, if a teammate is calling me, I know it’s something important and that they need my immediate attention, so I always pick up.

High-performing teams don’t shy away from hard work

Members of high-performing teams are more likely to work hard (check emails evenings, weekends and vacations), view their teammates as competitive and believe their teammates carry their own weight.

This factor is extremely important. I’ve had a few duds on my team over the years (who were quickly dismissed thanks to attentive management) and such low-performing individuals can really bog the team down. Resentment and distrust toward a disengaged coworker quickly build up, making intolerable work conditions.

Giving and receiving recognition is a key feature of high-performing teams

Members of high-performing teams are more likely to express and receive appreciation. This is especially critical when called into late night emergencies or trying to juggle work and family life. I personally make a point to always thank coworkers at the time they lend assistance as well as on our daily stand-up the next day so the whole team is aware of the value of their contributions.

Seeing the value of your work is essential to top performance

High-performing teams are more likely to view their contributions as important to their team, their company and the world.

At the end of the day, knowing you’ve made a positive difference in your work and to your colleagues is what keeps you logging back in the next morning for more.



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