We would all agree that a desirable culture is one in which team members are happy and produce good work that helps move the company toward its goals. These teams communicate well, meet deadlines, and exceed expectations.
However, a Dale Carnegie study of 2,650 respondents showed that although 96% of teams reached their minimum goals for the year, only 30% exceeded their aspirations and were considered “high-performing.”
It should come as no surprise that the values and principles of any company are ultimately reflected in the behaviors of its workers. So, if you want a high-performance culture, you need to make sure company leadership is actively and consistently displaying the behaviors desired from its members.
Benefits of High-Performance Team Culture
If such a high percentage of teams are achieving their goals, why bother to change major aspects of your company to then exceed expectations? The benefits of having a high-performing culture are many and can be clearly seen.
Mercer writes that high-performing HR teams are able to align their work with the business’ goals more often (66% of the time) than low-performing teams (only 16% of the time).
The Economist Intelligence Unit on behalf of Lucidchart found that things can go south quickly when there is poor communication or miscommunications between teams. Their study shows that communication breakdowns result in increased stress, delays or incomplete projects, low morale, not hitting goals, and—especially important—many lost sales totaling millions of dollars.
According to Gallup, engaging team members in their work results in 41% lower absenteeism, 17% higher productivity, and 21% higher profitability. Clearly, having engaged employees who work well on teams can be a true benefit in more ways than just meeting performance goals.
Characteristics of High-Performance Team Culture
As part of the recent Dale Carnegie study on teamwork, seven key areas were identified that that highlight influential contributors to high-performing teams. High-performing teams:
- Have a clear vision and purpose
- Close perception gaps
- Reflect higher levels of team satisfaction among its members
- Communicate well with each other
- Adapt to changing situations
- Cross-train and collaborate effectively
- Utilize technology in a supportive role
In addition, a common thread between these seven areas, and significant difference between high-performing teams and others, were that high-performing teams had extensive opportunities for learning and development.
As you can see, these aspects are top-down issues to be addressed.
How to Create a High-Performance Culture
Thus, creating a high-performance culture means change is afoot and, as with all change efforts, it doesn’t happen overnight. Leadership’s influence and effectiveness, as well as desired employee behaviors and attitudes, won’t change with the snap of your fingers. To support better performance, executives, managers, and leaders of all kinds need to set an example and model the teamwork, communication, and creativity they want to see in their teams and over time, teams will respond.
Recognizing the uniqueness of our organizations, the way a high-performance culture manifests in each company can be radically different as varying cultural elements may be better suited for one situation over another. Wherever your starting point, here are some key steps to consider as you take aim toward supporting high-performing teams.
- Reach a Goal: High-performing teams (i.e. those that exceeded goals) had a clearly defined purpose and vision. Ensure your teams have a clear direction and collectively understand what they are working toward, allowing each to identify how their knowledge and skillsets best contribute to crossing the finish line.
- Achieve Alignment: Leaders often have a different view of key team aspects compared to those reflected by team members. In the end, a high-performance team needs leaders and team members who have a collective understanding surrounding various aspects that impact team satisfaction and team culture. This doesn’t mean agreeing all the time, but it does mean that leaders need to be open to team member feedback, understanding member experiences and viewpoints in an effort to create common ground from which the team can build – avoiding an “us verse them” mentality.
- Empowered Employees: For employees to be truly creative, they need to be free to utilize the knowledge and talents they were hired for. Empowering employees can release them from the fetters that can inhibit them from taking action or making any autonomous decisions. To create a pathway toward high-performing teams, set your sights on expanding employee and team empowerment.
- Continued Learning: Employees and teams who receive training and development perform much better than those whose access to those opportunities are limited. In the ever-changing business environment, new or enhanced skills and knowledge such as those surrounding AI as well as those that improve and enhance soft skills, will be key for companies to remain competitive and support employee growth opportunities – a significant influence in the development of high-performing teams.
Developing a high-performance team culture can be daunting, especially considering the prevalence of hybrid and virtual teams. For additional information and support as you embark on the journey toward high-performing teams within your organization, look for upcoming dates for our free seminar on Developing a High-Performing Team or download our white paper at dalecarnegie.com.