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How to Build a High Performing Team

Talent is an organization's most valuable asset. Yet in most organizations, the untapped performance potential of teams is profound. 

You and your team cannot afford to be average. When you learn to strengthen your team’s performance, you build a competitive advantage, an economic moat, and increased revenue opportunities.

In this article, I’ll show you what a high-performing team looks like and how to build one, so you can achieve the results you are looking for.


What does a high-performing team do?

“If you could get all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time.”

― Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable


High-performing teams are focused, self-aware, and unafraid to get vulnerable. They are willing to do the work, engage in conflict, commit, and are accountable. 

They are inspired to do their best work because passion is present and the team’s vision and purpose are clear. 

Ultimately, high-performing teams are so aligned around a vision, so motivated to perform, and accountable to each other, that they can produce results that positively impact the bottom line, with a clear path from their behavior to the results they intend to produce.


How to build a high-performing team

Leaders of high-performing teams align talent, systems, and culture with business goals. They bridge potential with the vision for the organization. They are accountable and have the mindset to succeed. 

It is up to leaders to build the team by recruiting and retaining top talent, managing performance, and creating an environment of accountability and unique experiences.

There are four key areas that leaders must learn to master to build a performance environment: data, vision, people, and action.


Data: Benchmark and assess the current state to get to greatness.

To build a high-performing team you must understand the current state of the team and where you would like to be. Then, use data to determine gaps and improve. What gets measured gets improved.

Leaders can collect data using extremely data-driven assessments like the TriMetrix® HD in tandem with tools that reveal team dynamics like the Five Dysfunctions of a Team Assessment

Once you collect data, you must continue to be data-driven on an ongoing basis. If you only use a data-driven approach for a single workshop or discussion, you will skim the surface and waste time. You will generate excitement and enthusiasm during the workshop, and you will then go back to your normal problems.

Importantly, data collection does not remove emotion from the equation. In fact, data is the starting point for focused, direct, and engaging discussions about assessment results. Data should lead you to the most important dynamics and behaviors to address, and it is up to emotionally intelligent facilitators, team leaders, and team members to do the work to get vulnerable and work through challenges. 


Vision: Bridge the gap between your current state and your ideal state.

Once you have identified your current state using benchmarking and data, you can use that information to bridge the gap between your current team performance and high team performance.

When you create a vision, you should make it clear how your team members can step up and into success within that vision. Ultimately, this vision should include aligned talent, systems, and culture. 

Finally, once you create this vision, commit to it. Hold your team accountable for it. Team members can show their commitment to the vision through mindset. This mindset is a true commitment to the vision and actions that match that commitment. 

Smoke non-believers and those who will not embody the vision of your team. There will be those who do not believe. Get them gone quickly. Be willing to eliminate those who do not fit.


People: Honor your people to inspire them to do their best.

Everyone has an untapped potential yearning to be unleashed. We realize potential through the powerful synergy of alignment with the role, leadership, and meaningful work.

Honor the greatness in your people in order to get the best results from them. You can honor the greatness in your team by creating self and interpersonal awareness. Awareness puts truth at the forefront of your team, leading to discussions, solutions, and engagement that are centered on the realities of the team.

Honor is a balance of respect, accountability, and trust. It leaves room for vulnerability while also expecting meaningful contributions and results. 


Act: Wage war against dysfunction.

“Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare.”

― Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable


It is not enough to simply bring out the best in your team members to build a high-performing team. If you truly intend to take back control and maximize team performance, you must wage an all-out war against team dysfunction.

Now is precisely the time to step up. Now is the time to change individual and collective mindsets regarding one another and how your team works together.

Team dysfunctions never sort themselves out.  They end up costing teams and their companies incredible amounts of wasted resources, time, morale, and unnecessary turnover.

Teams that do not work together lose more often. Synergies are lost.  Misaligned teams waste valuable time, energy, and resources.

High-performing teams realize they must do the necessary work on an ongoing basis to ensure they are maximizing their true potential. 

You can act to fight dysfunction by following a process of Assess, Transform, and Accelerate.

During the Assess phase, build a sustainable competitive advantage with a data-driven strategy built on a solid understanding of the status quo relative to the desired outcome.

Then, Transform by unleashing the potential of your team through strategic hiring, onboarding, coaching, and development.

Finally, Accelerate your team’s performance by aligning the right strategy with purposeful execution.


The high-performing team toolkit

Through decades of experience working to build high-performing teams, these resources have proven invaluable to unleashing talent and creating positive team environments.

Conclusion: You and your team members deserve an environment of high performance.

Every role deserves a person with the ability to do the job well. Every person deserves a role in which they can flourish. The ability to perform is a function of possessing the requisite Background, Experience, Education, and Personality, or Mindset, to do the job well. 

The Rainmaker Group brings a fresh approach to maximizing teams. We help ensure the right mindset for the right position and help you adapt when there is misalignment.

From self and interpersonal awareness to engagement, conflict management, resilience training, and more, our process helps team members identify with one another, their roles and equip them with the essential tools to do their best work.

The first step to any undertaking to build a high-performing team is to assess your current state. We invite you to take a complimentary TriMetrix® HD Assessment as a first step to fighting dysfunction and unleashing the potential of your team.