4 Best Practices Of High Performance Teams

What makes a high performing team? Why do some teams achieve goals and higher levels of productivity while other teams dissolve into a group of bickering dysfunction? Organizations and leaders need successful teams to complete projects, manage a department, work cross-functionally, launch products, develop new strategies and processes, and numerous other reasons. And when teams don’t perform well, then the whole department and company suffer the poor results.

Turn your dysfunctional teams into high performing teams by following these 4 best practices and remember them with this simple phrase: Double Team.

cps_high_performing_teamsTarget Trust

One of the most consistent issues I’ve found when working with dysfunctional teams is a clear lack of trust. Team members may not trust the team leader, the leader may not trust the team, and team members may not trust each other. When there is no trust on a team, people are less motivated to complete assignments, less likely to work together in a collaborative manner, and lack the desire to see others succeed. Target Trust on your team by focusing on gaining feedback and creating more open communication. Ask for confidential feedback from your team regarding what is working well, what isn’t succeeding, and how they suggest things change. Communicate to your team the results of the feedback and how you plan to change performance for the better. Once a more open communication environment has been established, you will be able to encourage a more collaborative team atmosphere.

Establish & Engage

Even if your team has been together for a long time, it’s never too late to Establish and Engage your team members on a set of common goals, vision, expectations, and clear roles. Aside from team trust, the next largest reason why team dysfunction exists is because there is an absence of understanding the following:

  • Common vision
  • Team goals
  • Roles and responsibilities of each team member
  • Expectations for the team

It’s often too easy to believe that everyone is on the same page when they’re not. Team members may be reluctant to ask questions or clarify roles out of fear or lack of trust. By establishing these areas, team members will clearly understand what they are doing, why they are doing it, who is responsible for what, when actions are necessary, and how to achieve team success.

Action Steps for Accountability

Once clear roles are established, turn your focus to Action Steps for Accountability. What effective processes are in place to ensure team members are following through on their responsibilities? How will the team hold each other accountable to increase team success? Develop an effective process for continually monitoring and evaluating progress towards goals, confirm commitment, and adjust performance or responsibilities when necessary. When every team member know what is expected of them, the consequences if goals are met, and steps to take when additional help is needed, it raises the standard of accountability for everyone and goes a long way towards creating a high performance team.

Motivate Members

As the team leader, it is your responsibility to Motivate your team Members. You need to set the tone for the team by  showing the standard of respect, credibility, accountability, and responsibility you expect from your team members. You can’t expect your team members to be responsible, respectable, and accountable when you fail to model that behavior. Another way you can motivate your team members is by remembering to recognize and reward their efforts. Take the time during team meetings to acknowledge when goals are met, reward hard work, and appreciate the effort your team is making to be successful.

Turning a dysfunctional team into a high performing workplace team isn’t hard to do, but it does take some time and effort on your part as team leader to initiate the change. By following the “double team” 4 best practices of high performing teams, you can lead your group to become the exceptional standard by which others want to emulate.

Lessons in Leadership: How to Build High Performing Teams


Great leaders learn that in order to be successful, they need to develop a very strong team. What does it take to build a high performing team? At a minimum, the following must be in place:

Common Vision – is achieved and accepted by each team member and used in providing direction.

Clear Roles – are outlined and every team member understands each person’s role and accountability.

Mutual Trust – is established to ensure open communications, collaboration and respect.

Effective Processes – are developed, enabling the team to continually monitor and adjust their performance.

Strong Team Leadership – is required for success and the team leader must be respected and credible.

Most leaders don’t understand the “glue” that holds high performing teams together in order to achieve success, and they rarely spend the necessary time to help the team establish these minimal requirements. Research has consistently demonstrated that high performing teams help the leader achieve success when they are empowered and encouraged to operate with these guide posts.



  1. Establish and communicate your expectations for collaboration and teamwork to your team members.
  2. Diagnose the current state of each of the elements above to identify where some gaps exist to address. It is hard for the team leader to get truthful data in most cases, so engaging an internal/external resource can be helpful for this step.
  3. The foundation for the team is mutual trust. Without it, it is difficult to make substantial progress. Get some help from experts who can show you proven techniques to help build trust levels among the team members.
  4. As part of the monthly team meetings, reserve time on the agenda to discuss the team dynamics and how the team is performing. To achieve high performance, you’ll need to dedicate time and apply effort to keep the team moving toward your goals.
  5. Coach any team member that is not buying-in to your direction. One person on a team can lengthen or derail your efforts to build the team.

Implementing these best practices will help you turn a dysfunctional team into a high-functioning team that creates better working relationships, more collaboration and a higher level of success.

best practices for team meetings

Effective New Leader Onboarding


Typically, when a new leader is announced, team members become concerned about their future and the status of their responsibilities. As a new leader, initial goals with your team are to accelerate your impact and alignment to your vision. Often this is complicated if you were promoted from among your peers or you have been hired from the outside. In either situation, you’ll need to be sure that your team is completely onboard and aligned with your new direction.

A best practice technique used in several companies for new leader onboarding is the New Leader Team Assimilation process. In short, this process opens up team communications with the NEW leader and their team, helps build a team culture for openness, efficiently accelerates building stronger personal relationships, and provides the team with a safe venue to discuss any team and organizational challenges. This 6-step process works as follows:

1. The new leader lets their team know a coach (internal or external) will be contacting them to solicit their confidential input about what’s on their minds, concerns, suggestions, etc.

2. Confidential interviews are held with the leader’s direct reports by the coach. These interviews are either one-on-one or with the entire team present.

Interview questions typically asked of the team ahead of the meeting:

  • What do you know about (New Leader) already?
  • What don’t you know about (New Leader) but would like to know?
  • What should (New Leader) know about the team’s skills, experience, and dynamics?
  • What concerns do you have about (New Leader) taking the role? Concerns about what he/she might do?
  • What is inhibiting you the most from doing your job effectively?
  • What advice would you give (New Leader) to be sure he/she stays the course and is most successful?
  • What do you expect from (New Leader)?
  • What major problems will (New Leader) face?
  • What do you think (New Leader’s) job is in the next 12 months?
  • What are the top two things in the organization (New Leader) needs to change and why?

Typical questions answered by the new leader in the team meeting:


  • What do you know about the team already?
  • What are your hot buttons?
  • What are your priorities and goals for the team?
  • What are things at the Company that should be changed?
  • How do you describe your management style?
  • How do you like to get information?
  • How do you like to communicate?
  • How do you want to hear bad news?
  • What do you like to do for fun?

3. The coach briefs the new leader ahead of their meeting. The coach outlines their role and makes recommendations for productive and effective leadership behaviors in this type of meeting.

4. The new leader and the team meet to discuss the team’s input and answer the questions. The coach covers the meeting objectives, ground rules, provides an overview of the entire process, and facilitates this discussion among the team and new leader. Both the new leader and coach ensure all topics and issues raised in the interviews are introduced for discussion always protecting anonymity.

5. After the meeting the notes are provided to the entire team including follow-up items.

6. The coach and new leader meet to debrief and discuss the key insights, observations, and follow-up items.

While the New Leader Team Assimilation process can be conducted as a standalone activity, it is most helpful as part of a new leader executive coaching process. This process works very well to help accelerate the team’s performance while reducing areas of ambiguity upon the new leader’s announcement, helps the new leader manage their time efficiently, and fosters an open team culture where anything can be brought up and discussed.