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High Performance Team in Action

Managing Expectations
Building A Team
Company Culture
Feedback
Coaching / Training / Mentorship

13 October, 2022

Praveen Cheruvu
Praveen Cheruvu

Senior Software Engineering Manager at Anaplan

A high performance team refers to “ a group of goal-focused individuals with specialized expertise and complementary skills who collaborate, innovate and produce consistently superior results.”

A high performance team refers to “ a group of goal-focused individuals with specialized expertise and complementary skills who collaborate, innovate and produce consistently superior results.” — from Society of Human Resource Management

The characteristics

  • Share the same mindset and have a clear agreed upon strategy for winning the game
  • Each member of the team is fully and completely aware of their role and take the accountability for playing at an exceptional level
  • There are agreed upon on rules of engagement and empowered to make decisions
  • The relationship between team members is based on mutual respect to each other
  • Extraordinary levels of trust among team members
  • Open lines of communication
  • Understanding is that achieving results is a “team play” and win or lose as a team. The team members never shy without a moment’s hesitation to cover for the team members and for the good of the team.
  • They follow great processes, and perform in a rhythm

The team value’s — Communication is open and accessible. Communication is clear, concise and honest. All the team members listen actively. Confront issues appropriately.

Key alignment factors: “Alignment is adherence to a prescribed course of action” . When a team is aligned around the five factors and the team is poised for high performance

The team understands the overall strategy for its segment of the business. Team members agree upon the goals and priorities that the team must meet to help achieve that strategy and are committed to meeting those goals. They are also clear about their individual goals and how these relate to the team’s goal.

There are ground rules in place for team behavior in areas such as conflict resolution, decision making, meeting and day-2-day communication and engagement. Team members hold each other accountable for playing by ground rules.

The individuals agree upon or contract how to best work with each other so that assumptions are minimized and expectations are met. They reconstruct when their initial contracts are no longer appropriate or effective

Stages of team development

Stage 1, Forming/Testing/Early stage : The stage when the team and its members are new. They play it safe. The communication is happening but it is not candid and open.They hold back and opinions are guarded

Stage 2, Storming/Fighting : The individuals are not taught to effectively confront differences. This leads to finger pointing and blame. The feedback is often taken personally instead of looking

objectively. Unable to handle conflicts directly, team members may avoid team members or work around others whom they have conflict with. The tension is inevitable.

Stage 3, Norming, Organized : The team members are able to bring issues and discuss effectively with an intention to resolve them. The conversations are based on candor and authenticity.Goals, roles and protocols are iterated with a higher level of trust than in forming and storming stages. Team members regularly give and receive feedback and feedback includes business outcomes. Team members are developing skills in conflict resolution and influencing to move the work forward. Trust levels are high.

Stage 4, High Performance :High performance teams regularly break behavior patterns to accelerate delivery. The teams are cognizant of competition, market pressure and context aware. It takes a focused and concerted effort for each and every team member to reach and continue to perform at this level. The teams and team members support others in their success. The team members put organizational interests above their personal interests.

Once the teams are high performing, following are typical attributes in action

  • The mission, goals and priorities are clearly understood. Teams achieve a ‘flow’ state and there is no friction in getting things done. Lack of this clarity leads to confusion, wasted time, energy and money
  • The team is composed of the right set of people with completing skills. These include technical and functional competency and ability to work across the cross functional peers. The team members don’t shy away to go any level of organization to the get the job done
  • The roles and responsibilities of each team member are understood. The expectations are clear. The handoffs are frictionless. The delivery pipelines are optimized
  • The decision making leadership mechanism that the team employs is clear and accepted by all team members. This does not mean there are no disagreements, but there is acceptance on how decisions will be made and how stakeholders will be engaged as needed.
  • There is a sense of ownership and accountability among all the team members. As a result team members feel that they have the opportunity and forum to raise their voice and bring across the concerns. They operate like a self managing unit and resolve the issues. They exercise no blame cultures and contribute to the well-being of team members.
  • The team conducts monthly retrospections and self assessment of how they are working as a group and progressing. These include review of commitments, delivery and business goals achieved.They do this to sustain momentum.
  • The team members hold themselves and others accountable. When there are delays in delivery or need additional time, the stakeholders are informed well in advance and given the opportunity to make alternate plans.

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