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High performing teams 8 min read
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High-performing teams cut through workspace clutter to deliver consistent, top-notch results. They collaborate and communicate well and can be creative while meeting their goals. Research shows that high-performing teams conduct themselves differently than other teams. They work with a strong sense of autonomy, relate well to each other, work cohesively, and are effective at their jobs.

High-performing teams are filled with innovative employees who take risks and deliver excellent client service that makes your organization shine. At, we believe in providing the resources needed to improve team productivity. Take a look at some of the keys to building and sustaining high- performing teams.

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What are the key characteristics of high-performing teams?

High-performing teams stand out from other teams not just because of their superior results. These teams exhibit many positive traits that make them successful. Let’s review the top characteristics of high-performing teams.

Honest, clear communication

High-performing teams communicate with one another openly and regularly. They use every form of communication in their wheelhouse, including emails, Slack chats, face-to-face meetings, Zooms, and, especially, phone conversations. They prioritize understanding what the other is saying and welcome feedback from one another. High-performing teams are more likely to communicate with each other more often, resulting in a clear vision and understanding of their goals.

Mutual respect and appreciation

Rather than trying to one-up each other, members of high-performing teams respect the expertise and competence each team member brings to the table. They realize they are far more powerful working together than working separately, and are proud of their productivity and accomplishments. On top of that, they express their appreciation to one another frequently.

Shared vision and goals

Members of a high-performing team may not have the same responsibilities, but they share the same goals. They are committed to those goals, over and above any personal vision or goals each team member holds separately. High-performing teams understand their vision clearly and know why they’re performing the tasks that lie before them. Because they share goals and vision, they pitch in willingly to help each other.


Trust between team members is crucial to a high-performing team’s willingness to take risks needed for success. Google’s noted Project Aristotle study termed this as “psychological safety” and ranked it the most important element for any successful team. If you find a team miscommunicating or whispering behind each other’s backs, it’s time to pull everyone together and spend the time needed to restore and develop trust and transparency.

Healthy leadership

Leaders of high-performing teams keep the team’s vision and goals foremost and do everything possible to protect the team from outside interference and obstacles. They provide opportunities for team members to advance and develop new skills, avoid micromanagement, and don’t hog credit for the team’s successes. Great team leaders maintain a positive and healthy working environment and prioritize communication and trust between team members. Of course, they’re also willing to jump in and lend a practical hand when needed.

Effective work procedures and habits

High-performing teams make sure they’re all on the same page when it comes to their working procedures, organizational structures, and the agreed standards to uphold. This establishes space for creativity and provides a framework for taking worthwhile risks. It also allows conflict resolution before things get out of control and fosters a healthy work ethic.

Team bonding

When your team talks about the TV show they binged over the weekend or their kids’ latest triumph at school, you’ve actually found a valuable way to spend work time. Members of high-performing teams are more likely to hang out with their team members and talk about things that have nothing to do with work. The authentic relationships you’re building during this time contribute to positive emotions and well-being and boost overall team performance.

Understanding how to recognize a high-performing team is one thing — but how do you build one? Getting your high performing team off the ground involves following a few basic steps.

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How do you make a team high performing?

Building a high-performing team does take some time, but it’s worth it for the productivity bonus that you reap once the team is up and running. Start by composing your team carefully. A high performing team should have the minimum number of people needed to handle its tasks — typically, high-performing teams are 10 people or fewer. Consider forming multiple teams if your talent pool is especially deep or your organization is vast.

Look for people who work at peak levels already, with specific talents and skills that the task at hand requires, and pair people whose skills and personalities complement each other. In addition, people who bring a great attitude to work, with plenty of energy and a sense of accountability for their department’s success, are likely to be good team members. Other tips for building a high performing team include the following:

Prioritize growth and learning

High-performing teams typically love to improve their skills. Your organization can benefit from this tendency by providing the appropriate corporate training. Whether you focus on upskilling, emerging tech, or industry-specific information, your teams can bond through the learning process as they grow toward even greater productivity.

That environment of open communication needed for a team to be high performing doesn’t happen on its own. A work environment of psychological safety is vital for its success.

Foster communication

That environment of open communication needed for a team to be high performing doesn’t happen on its own. A work environment of psychological safety is vital to encourage innovation and motivate employees to take risks and float new ideas. When every team member feels safe voicing an unpopular opinion, that team can take your organization to new levels and open doors to new areas of business.

Focus on vision

The dynamics of a high-performing team benefit when leadership prioritizes the team’s vision. By working toward a common goal, team members can blend their shared values and trust to boost productivity. However, it can be easy for a team to wrap itself up in justifiable pride in its productivity and lose track of its goal. When team leaders stay focused on vision, teams are less likely to detour.

Set smart goals

High-performing teams rejoice when they see themselves being effective and productive. Give them that opportunity by setting measurable goals with clear deadlines or timetables to guide them. High-performing teams often find that meeting those goals provides even more motivation to keep going — but don’t ignore the possibility of recognition or reward as they hit their marks.

Keep teams stable

Once you’ve found a mix of team members that seems to be working, nurture its success. That bonding that occurs on a high performing team can be fragile, and moving people on and off the team can be more disruptive than you’d expect. However, not every team is successful and may require an intervention to find what works better.

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When a team needs intervention

Sometimes, team interactions can go awry. If one of your teams shows any of the following characteristics, it may be time to consider restructuring them to promote a safe, collaborative work environment:

  • Lack of trust: Team members may exhibit mistrust if they’re not communicating effectively. High-performing teams use multiple avenues to communicate and ensure their message is clear and constructive.
  • Conflict that gets out of hand: Every team has conflict at some level, but high-performing teams typically deal with it early and openly.
  • A negative vibe: When a team’s overall attitude is not positive and transparent, its performance will suffer. A high performing team encourages each other and fosters a safe, inclusive work environment.
  • Lack of communication: Interrupted or infrequent communication can inhibit a team’s performance. High-performing teams are pragmatic and communicate clearly and positively.
  • Dictatorial or micromanaging leadership: High-performing teams function best when the leader is in sync with the rest of the team and uses a democratic style to engage.
  • Hasty decision-making: High-performing teams have their decision-making processes down pat and follow them clearly while making room for intuitive choices.
  • Poorly defined goals: When team members don’t understand their goals, they can’t fully commit to where the team is headed.
  • Lack of appreciation: High-performing teams should be more than diverse — they also need to appreciate one another’s diversity of talent and experience.
  • Lack of bonding: Strong relationships are at the heart of every high performing team.

Avoiding these obstacles to the success of a high performing team isn’t an expensive proposition but does take intention and planning. Focusing on communication and relationship helps create an atmosphere of psychological safety that boosts team productivity and performance.

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