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The five principles of high-performing teams

In today’s demanding and unpredictable business environment it is of paramount importance that an organisation’s teams are agile, effective, productive, innovative, fully engaged and are working towards a common goal.

In order to ensure ever increasingly complex challenges are handled in the most effective way, in recent times many organisations have brought together multi-disciplinary teams with a goal of facilitating team performance and agility through a sharing of a variety of skills, knowledge, information, expertise and contacts. 

However, this diversity can lead to stress points in the team, as bringing together a group of very unique people whose values, experience and beliefs are very different, can have a somewhat dysfunctional impact on the team.

At the heart of any great team is great team leadership that inspires all members to be and give their best and ultimately achieve the goals set for the team, although achieving this is not without its challenges.

So, how can team leaders inspire and get the best out of their people? 

Organisational psychologists have identified a set of key principles, that when acknowledged can drive the success and performance of teams and increases effectiveness, engagement and ultimately the wellbeing of team members.

Principle 1: 

Identify what unites us - to achieve ‘buy in’ from all members, it is first necessary to identify and build an identity and vison that all members share. Yes, it can initially be time-consuming, however by working through tensions, frustrations and anxieties that members have and ensuring that there is a collective vision, the team will be more cohesive, more resilient to setbacks and significantly stronger. 

In addition, the team will be able to thrive, perform and learn more effectively as members are more fulfilled and satisfied.

Principle 2: 

Work together on how to achieve the shared vision - to feel a deep sense of purpose and to encourage engagement people need a sense of meaning to what they do at work and need to feel they are drivers of their own destiny.

By ensuring there are opportunities for employees to contribute to a shared vision through voicing their ideas and being heard everyone can feel respected, valued and able to achieve through interdependent working.

Principle 3: 

Building team potency - when a shared vision is achieved the result is a strong common belief that the team can handle the challenges and setbacks that today’s working environment can throw at them. This team potency builds resilience, engagement and increases the overall wellbeing of the team. As a direct consequence the team works harder and offers more successful, productive and innovative results.

Principle 4: 

Be clear on roles and responsibilities - people like to know where they stand and what is expected of them in the role they perform, as without it they can feel adrift which can impact the whole team's performance, successes and wellbeing.

To reduce stress, frustration, conflict and possible duplication it is paramount to clearly define each team members role and communicate to all.

Principle 5: 

Create a culture of learning and psychological safety - Irish writer James Joyce probably said it best when he wrote “mistakes are the portals of discovery.” Mistakes should be viewed as “cognitive catalysts”; they challenge our assumptions and stimulate the formation of new and even better ideas. 

In today’s ever increasing and pressurised working environment teams need to feel that they are able to openly innovate and experiment which initially might increase the number of mistakes made. However, the long-term gains can mitigate any short-term losses and increase the team’s performance overall.