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High-Performing Teams are critical to your organizational performance today, and human capital research predicts that team-based organizations will predominate in the future. However, even the most talented teams will fail if your talent doesn't shift its collaborative processes to meet the demands of today’s technology-driven landscape. 

According to a Deloitte survey, only 6% of respondents rated their organizations as very effective at managing cross-functional teams. Since hierarchical teams are quickly evolving into cross-functional teams, this number needs to increase if companies want to keep up with industry leaders. 

Run through the checklist below to ensure your team is high-performing, engaged, and goal-focused:

15 Areas to Explore to Avoid Team Failure and Empower High-Performing Teams    

1. Establish a Motivating Purpose

For an employee to be motivated and enthusiastic about working within a team, you'll need to:

1. Create a clear vision 
2. Get everyone on the same page about values 
3. Set a defined goal that every team member understands 

According to Gallup, employees who are brought along on the goal-setting journey are 3.6 times more likely to be engaged than those who are not. Your goals should inspire your team to be successful, perform better, and challenge themselves.   
Humanizing your business is key to motivating the workforce so your talent can perform at their best. But, how can you motivate your team after you have created a goal? You'll want to ensure that you create a deep sense of purpose. Establish what success in each role looks like, how this contributes to the organization, and how customers and community benefit from a job well done.

2. Set Expectations that Drive Role Clarity

High-performing teams depend on role clarity to avoid clashing, overlapping, or conflict. You'll need structure and a strategy to support clarity and collaboration across roles. Keep in mind that teams grow, strategies can shift, and plans can change. Meet frequently to adjust and align. 

Ensure that your team members are clear on their roles after establishing your purpose. Align goals and the steps required to achieve them. Alignment ensures you avoid distractions and frustration that can lead to differing priorities and employee conflict over which method is correct. To have clarity, your organization must be transparent by sharing information and challenges openly. Clarity, alignment, and transparency go hand in hand. Together, these can improve a team’s ability to accomplish the right goals.

3. Cultivate and Ensure Psychological Safety

Your team needs psychological safety to have a growth mindset and courage. Organizational behavioral scientist, Amy Edmondson says that team psychological safety is a shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking. This ensures the team can easily bring up complex issues with each other and openly discuss mistakes. A safe environment encourages individuality, better collaboration, and the cohesive viewpoint of the team as a whole.

Stated by Best Practice Institute, “Without courage, there is no authenticity, and without authenticity, there is no trust. Without trust, there is no teamwork. Without teamwork, there is no team. Without a team, there are only silos. With silos, it’s everyone for themselves.”

4. Examine Diversity of Mindset and Personality

Do you understand the natural tendencies of each member of your team? Although having visible differences across areas like demographics help create organizational diversity, the diversity and personality at work also plays an essential role in your workplace environment. For example, individuals who are decisive, and those who take much more time to think before reacting will often see challenges differently. Naturally, they’ll also bring up different solutions. The point is that one personality is not better than the other, but the team that leverages the most viewpoints in decision making has the competitive advantage to overcome natural blind spots. Even teams that are not cognitively diverse will improve performance by understanding the concept of cognitive diversity – if all team members lean a certain way, they will do better by taking time to evaluate those areas that don’t come to them naturally. 

Diversity of personality helps increase employee engagement, collaboration, and cutting-edge results. The more diverse minds you have working together, the more ideas you’ll have on the table to create the most innovative solutions in the ambiguous market environment. 

5. Work Through Interpersonal Dynamics 

When different personalities make up a team, work style issues will arise. It is vital to address those issues head-on and discuss the team dynamics in an open, non-judgmental way in day-to-day operations. Encourage team members to respect and better understand each other. Inspire your team to listen to constructive feedback, listen to different perspectives, and support collaboration by striving to meet individual expectations. The difference between teams that openly discuss interpersonal dynamics and those that don’t is the difference between a productive and toxic workplace. If unhealthy conflicts exist on the team, consider the neutral language of personality assessment, and a third-party consultant or internal leader who can facilitate a team building workshop.

6. Implement Robust Ethics, Fairness, and Accountability

Leaders should instill ethics within their high-performing team. A team with strong work ethics maintains integrity in everyday tasks and day-to-day communications. Whether it is integrity with time, such as keeping meetings concise and targeted, or integrity with communication goals, the output coming from your group will succeed when based on a united set of ethics. The team should strive to understand the moral ethics they have with each other, and the company as a whole, to remain aligned with your overarching strategy and impact. 

7. Maintain an Open Communication Style

When working with different personalities, it’s crucial to adapt to different communication styles. The team leader should be flexible in their communication techniques, adapting to the needs and preferences of each team member. While some employees might respond best to an authoritative, direct style of communication, others might respond better to a more suggesting approach. Understanding the best way to deliver information to different individuals will save time that tends to be lost in miscommunication and misunderstandings.

Open communication is also crucial to build trust across the team. By sharing information with transparency, and continuously communicating, your team will be aligned when conducting their separate roles and tasks and have a common purpose in mind. If your team is solely remote, ensure you have the right technology and culture that encourages open communication.

For an interesting perspective on different styles of communication, check out this article from G2.

8. Streamline Your Decision-Making Process

Productivity and problem solving is dependent on an efficient decision-making process. This means you might need to be selective about who is involved in specific meetings and discussions. Try only to include the people necessary in any given meeting. This will make meetings more efficient by saving time. However, to ensure all team members are up-to-speed, it is important to share any decisions or findings with the entire team afterward. This will keep everyone on the same page. Poor decision-making strategies, such as having too many people in the room, or making decisions in a silo, leads to confusion that can catalyze team failure.  

9. Ensure Team Members Have a Growth Mindset

A growth mindset is one where practice yields performance; failure is a chance to learn and a pivotal step to innovatesomething better. This takes courage. Courage in risk-taking, trying innovative things, and getting out of your comfort zone. Low-performing teams often have a fixed mindset that drives their evaluation of what is possible. A high-performing team accepts challenges and is solution-focused, utilizes and values unique skills, and can ask others for help. Every setback is a chance to learn and improve the team’s output in the future.

10. Promote Transparency Within the Team and Workplace

High-level information should be visible to your team no matter the circumstance. By not withholding information, you will build trust with your team and create a critical bond. As a leader, it is essential to be honest about successes and failures, goals, and financial activities. Changes that could negatively impact the team should be shared truthfully. Promoting transparency will allow your team members to feel comfortable to voice concerns with you and their colleagues while reducing possible conflict areas and building trust.

11. Align on Current and Future Priorities

Although tasks can be assigned to an entire team, most tasks are assigned on an individual level. All team members need to be aware of what others are working on to avoid overlapping or conflicting responsibilities. Tight alignment and transparency are crucial to ensure priority misalignment does not impact team performance, innovation, and revisiting the same tasks that have already been completed. High-performing teams must be on the same page. Project management tools are an excellent way to keep your team aligned without wasting too much time communicating mundane details.

12. Provide Effective Feedback

Feedback-related issues have caused performance to decline in 38% of cases, according to, due to either not receiving enough feedback or not receiving feedback effectively. By understanding your team members’ individual preferences for feedback, you will increase the team’s motivation and productivity. It’s also important to note that feedback should not be limited to manager-employee relationships. Inspire team-wide forums that help overcome employee blind spots and increase engagement and problem solving across functions and roles. For this to work, the leader must actively show their willingness to source and act on team feedback.

13.  Implement Team Building Exercises

Team building may seem insignificant when it comes to a high-performing team, but remembering to initiate more light-hearted exercises with your team can help keep your team bonded and engaged, rather than restricting relationships to work-only conversations. Team building nurtures collaboration and allows your team to solve problems while having fun. These activities can range from a workshop to something simple, like two truths and a lie. Sprinkle in some fun to maximize employee engagement.

14. Invest in Resources and Technology

Technology is reshaping our future. It has transformed the workplace and will continue to evolve how work gets done. This will impact how we communicate ideas and information at any time of the day, remain productive, and manage our time. This modern workplace environment is how remote teams survive. According to Cisco, the number one factor influencing team productivity, agility, and job satisfaction is secure, reliable access to all the tools and information team members need to do their jobs, regardless of device or location. While only 33 percent can meet remote team members’ needs today, companies are responding. Another 61 percent expect to have these resources within three years or less. Provide your team with the tools, training, and information they need to become an effective team.

15. Align Individual and Group Rewards and Recognition 

Are you evaluating your team based on individual performance or team performance? Your recognition and rewards should align with organizational goals, but to work effectively for different individuals, you’ll need to match the preferences of each employee to motivate them. Although one team member may be competitive, the other may be more idealistic and team-spirited. One may prefer team rewards and celebrate success as a team, while another team member may expect individual rewards so they can measure personal performance. The same goes for benefits. Some employees may be more productive by working a compressed workweek, while another team member may be more productive working remotely for two days out of the week.

Offer your team more diverse rewards, recognition, and benefits that suit their preferences. Not only will you increase employee engagement and output, but you also have a higher chance of retaining your top talent.

Birkman Can Help Your Team Succeed

For a high-performing team to thrive, it needs a strong foundation. Culture, diversity, ethics, communication, conflict resolution, feedback, team building, technological resources, recognition, and reward are crucial for your team to improve performance. Birkman empowers diverse teams to achieve their high-performance potential with personality insights to engage and utilize talent and clarify how team members come together. Teams that hold the greatest potential are those that are made up of diverse personalities that accept and value the differences of their coworkers. Organizations that invest in individuality while taking all necessary steps to unite teams are the ones that see the best results. 

The core pillars of a high-performing team are Purpose, Clarity, and Psychological safety. Our newest solution, High-Performing Teams: Building the Foundation workshop, can help unite your team, create alignment between your people and tasks, and create a safe environment that encourages your team to take risks and communicate openly to solve problems and improve. Learn how we can help your high-performing team succeed. If you would like more information, you can stream our Why Talented Teams Fail free webinar here that will cover each of these topics more in-depth. 

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