3 Things High Performing Teams Do

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High performing teams differ in 3 ways

Thanks to some pretty trail blazing research in 2004 (Losada & Heaphy) distilled the 3 things that differentiate high, medium  and low performing teams.

Firstly they analysed three important stats for these leadership teams:

1. profit and loss

2. customer satisfaction

3. 360 feedback

Only if a team performed well on all three measures was it assigned to the HIGH peforming category.  Those that had low scores on all three measures were deemed to be LOW performing teams and the rest (who had a mixed result) were MEDIUM.
They the proceeded to observe the meetings and analyse the behaviours of each of these teams and compare that to their performance category and they found some pretty interesting results…

1. SELF INTEREST

Members of poor performing teams were 30 times more likely to think about the impact of any decision on their own department than its impact on others.  This compared with medium performing teams who for every 3 times they thought about the impact on themselves, also considered the impact on others twice.

The Highest performing teams had a completely balanced consideration of impact on themselves against impact on others.  In effect, they were as concerned about the impact of their decisions on each other and their stakeholders as they were about the impact on themselves, showing a wider perspective on their decision making.

2. GIVING OPINIONS

Members of the lowest performing teams spent most of their time offering opinions and views on the issues being presented whilst the medium teams gave three opinions to every 2 views they sought from others.

The highest performing teams showed a complete balance between giving and seeking out the views of others, again demonstrating that they have a wider perspective on their discussions and decision making.

3. CRITICAL THINKING

Perhaps most importantly poor performing teams spent as much as twenty times longer making negative comments on each others’ ideas and pointing out potential problems. For the medium teams they spent just 8 times longer critiquing each other and pointing out flaws and problems.

Astoundingly though Losada & Heaphy observed the highest performing teams spending six times longer building on each others’ ideas, supporting and encouraging each other through positive contributions than they did make negative comments.

Summary

Whilst critical problem solving is important to leadership teams, it seems that the main differentiating factor in team performance is the ability to develop a trusting and creative atmosphere where there is real connectivity between the members and they are able to build on each other’s contributions.

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