How does a high-performance team influence an organization?

By Richi Gil | Jun 06, 2018

Operating as a high-performance team has a direct impact on the culture of an organization. A team that consistently exceeds performance will create a pull in the organization where other teams want what they have. Ricardo Gil discusses this topic in the following videos.

How does a high-performance team influence the culture of an organization?
What are the key dimensions for a high-performance team?
How do high-performance teams interact with other teams?
What is the most difficult challenge that teams need to overcome to become a high-performance team?

How does a high-performance team influence the culture of an organization?

High-performing team is not only accomplishing outstanding results, but many times you become an inspiration to others because of your results. So it’s not that a high-performing team is a team where people get along well together but they are substandard in their performance. Not at all! They are above standard in their performance. They are extraordinary in their performance. And they create a pool in their organization, an example of what’s possible. And this has been our experience working with certain clients who are one team becomes a high-performing team, and then other teams start looking at this team as an example of what’s possible. Then they want it too. That culture of high performance starts to spread in the organization because you have the success case that was then emulated by others.

What are the key dimensions for a high-performance team?

We believe a high performing team is a team that is great in at least four dimensions. One of them is purpose, we discussed it before. A theme that has a higher purpose, a team that stands for something, that wants to accomplish something, that has that fire inside, burning inside. That is one condition. The second condition is a team that has real clarity in the roles and responsibilities of each of the team members. Who’s responsible for what? Who is going to support who, and in which way? Who makes the call for this? And those roles in a way are also organic and fit for purpose.

The third dimension is processes. They have also very minimal, elegant processes, which are also fit for purpose in the same way as roles and responsibilities. They are processes that are there, that are minimalist, and are not cast in stone. They can change because the circumstances call for a change, and at the same time, it’s not chaos. It’s like a minimal structure that’s incredibly efficient at the service of the performance of the team. There is so much trust, and respect, and mutual support between the members of the team that you almost need no processes, and at the same time, everybody knows what needs to be done by who and when.

Then, the fourth dimension is the kind of relationships that exist between the team members. They are relationships based on very high trust, very high respect. A lot of admiration for one another, a lot of willingness to support each other in the pursuit of each other’s goals and dreams, and members will go to any extent to help some other team member fulfill their dreams. When that is in place there is no limit to what a team can accomplish.

How do high-performance teams interact with other teams?

Then let me give you an example. One of the principles of high-performing teams is that there are no quote-unquote “undiscussables” topics in the team. Anything can be talked about. Everything must be talked about in a way that furthers the purpose of the team. That’s one of the principles, and the team members in high-performing teams, they have skills to do that, so they know how to present their ideas in a skillful way. They know how to argue for their reasoning in a skillful way. They know how to open their arguments to be in challenge from others, because they acknowledge that their perspective is limited, and they could be missing something, and then others’ perspectives could be complementary. By listening to others, everybody can learn something that makes the original idea better than any of the … The emerging idea better than any of the original ideas on the table. They know that, so they know how to present. They know how to help others to present. They know how to inquire. They know how to expose. Everybody knows that.

Now, it could happen that a high-performing team interacts with a team outside in the system but that has not gone through any of this process and is just a good team. They don’t know the distinctions. They don’t know about the principles. They don’t know about the skills. Still, the high-performing team can relate to that team, helping the other team respond as if they knew the high-performing team’s principles and skills. How? Well, they can ask them questions to help them present in a skillful way. They can present to them, explain their reasoning so they understand where they are coming from. They can invite people to challenge, and then can invite them to be challenged as a way, making explicit that the purpose is not to challenge the person but to, between all, create the best possible idea, so they can make text the context, so they explain and help people understand why it’s better to perform according to these principles.

We normally would say it takes two people to have a fight. It only takes one person to stop a fight. The analogy is that if at least one of the members of the conversation, they know the principles and tools of a high-performing team, they can influence in other teams so these teams start to behave and to act in a way that’s congruent with high-performing teams’ principles and skills.

What is the most difficult challenge that teams need to overcome to become a high-performance team?

The most difficult part, is that you make an internal choice, that this is what you want to do. Many times, we hear clients say, “Yes, we want to become a high performing team.” But when we continue talking, and even start the work, they realize, and it was always like that, that there has to be an internal shift, in the way you look, in the way you perceive, and the way you make sense of the world.

And many times, that making sense of the world, is our deeply, deep ingrained assumptions, that you learned a long time ago, on how the world operate, and how to take action in the world. And those assumptions, and those stories, they have served you well, for a long time. So, and this is my view, sometimes changing those stories, making that shift … One thing to challenge those stories, it sounds very simple, and it’s not easy at all.

Because people are stuck with their stories, and they love their stories, and they don’t wanna change their stories. And then, that becomes your friend, but it also becomes your enemy, because it becomes the biggest obstacle, to move you and the team to the next phase. So, I would say, if you’re willing to challenge your own stories, and you’ll be willing to look at yourself, with compassion, with gentle eyes, and take yourself lightly.

Life doesn’t have to be so serious. If you can do that, and I know that sounds a little woo woo, or kind of tree hugging, I tell you, this has worked and still works, in some of the most successful companies in the world, which are very, very fact driven companies. And even then, you can still have a good time, while you are pursuing your goals, or you are exceeding your performance targets.

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