These seven components that make up a standard for excellence of performance for a world-class team.

There are two things required to build a high-performing team.

Getting the basics in place right from the outset

Having and using an easy mechanism for frequently addressing how well the team itself is functioning and then addressing any areas for improvement

In order to meet both these objectives, a “standard” for excellence of team performance is required. Similar to a standard for any other performance area, like quality standards on a production line or accounting standards in finance, the team must then hold themselves accountable to perform to these standards.

There are seven components that make up this standard of performance for a world-class team:

1. Leadership

Each team needs a designated leader who carries final accountability for delivering the team’s mandate.

2. Unanimous focus on a common goal

The goal toward which the team is working needs to be explicitly clear and ideally written in a way that will allow everyone to know when success is achieved — it will be self-evident. Each team member must be committed to the achievement of that goal and operating without hidden agendas or competing priorities.

3. Clearly defined roles for subgroups

For the sake of efficiency, members of a team often form smaller teams, or subgroups, operating in support of the larger team’s objective. Areas where subgroups often form are finance, marketing, communications and planning. It’s important to give each subgroup its own clear goal and to reinforce that it is the output of the larger team that’s most important, being careful not to let one subgroup (e.g. finance) become the tail that wags the dog.

4. Shared resources

The needs of the team must outweigh the need of any subgroup or individual, and so resources need to be allocated with the final objective in mind. This includes “hard” resources like money, space, equipment, tools, and people. However, the sharing of resources extends beyond that to include “soft” resources like ideas, feedback, innovative approaches, and insight. Often, these soft resources are either not appropriately valued, and hence not shared, or they are not immediately recognized as helpful and thus are ignored. Both these responses inhibit future sharing, which can ultimately lead to the team underperforming against its potential.

5. Effective and frequent communication

Communication within a team is its lifeblood, bringing clarity and understanding to each member, just as the blood brings oxygen to the brain. Whether or not the communication is effective, and frequent enough, is judged not by the sender but by other team members, who must all provide feedback when they feel this standard is not being met. In the case of a persistent problem in this area, the team leader must step in to resolve it.

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