How to Build (and Keep) a High-Performance Team

How to Build (and Keep) a High-Performance Team

“There’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’. There is a me, though, if you jumble it up.” Dr. Greg House, from the TV series House.

Managers, as well as entrepreneurs often think they have to “do it all themselves”, as reflected in the following statements:

“No one can do this as well as I can.”

“It’s easier to just do it myself than to explain how to someone else.”

“I don’t have time to train anybody.”

However, when you think in this way, you may be overlooking a critical component for career and business success. And that is, building the right team.  When you build the right team, you get the benefit of “synergy”. Synergy is when the results equal more than the sum of the parts (each team member).

What’s in a Team?

A team is basically a group of people with complementary skills who are mutually committed to working together toward common goals, vision or purpose.

  • See “the big picture.” This promotes collaboration, increases commitment and improves quality. Each team member knows the greater goals of the organization and understands the context of their own (and each other’s) roles and responsibilities toward those goals.
  • Have common goals. Effective teams know what goals are AND know how to determine if they’ve reached them (or not).
  • Collaborate. Effective teams are all about interdependency. Collaboration reduces the need for playing “the blame game” while encouraging opportunities for learning and improvement. Effective team players fit together like puzzle pieces playing off each other’s strengths.

Fostering Teamwork or Team Spirit

Whether you are building a team from scratch (rarely) or working with an existing team, here are some key strategies to help you make the most of your team.

Effective Team Leaders…

  • Give clear expectations and goals.
  • Ensure that the team has the necessary support, resources, structure and training to do their jobs.
  • Put a deadline on everything – whether it “needs” it or not. Remember, the task on hand will expand to fill the time allotted.
  • Over-communicate. Better to have the information and not need it than to need it and not have it (including timely, constructive and consistent feedback).
  • Promote Problem-solving within the team. How? By seeing mistakes as opportunities (and encouraging the team to do the same). Instead of hiding mistakes, people become proactive.
  • Focus on structure. Poor performance is usually due to poor team structure, not individual performance. Poor structure leads to negative, ineffective behaviors in individuals and impedes communication. If team members feel that they are misunderstood or competing against each other, they are more likely to hold back information or resources.


People are motivated by many things: getting paid, loving what they do, seeing a project come to fruition, taking on new (bigger) challenges, the creative process, ego gratification or simply not being bored.

How to keep your team invested in your success:

  • Offer challenging work and opportunities for learning. This gives people a chance to grow into new roles and encourages responsibility.
  • Offer freedom and independence in the decision-making process to encourage self-empowerment. Coach people on what to do and not how to do it. Powerful individuals make powerful teams.
  • Recognize the contribution of your team. This is absolutely critical to the success of any company, and most leaders fail at doing so adequately – a HUGE mistake. Noticing (and publicly acknowledging) the effort of each team member is an underutilized (and free) way to ensure team success. Remember, no one does it alone.
  • If subcontractors make up your team, remember to treat them like you do your employees.
  • Create win-win situations for all team members.

Creating a high-performance team is not about finding the perfect team. Creating a high-performance team is about growing your team and each of the team members into a high-performing team. Team members need consistent and ongoing support. Ideally, team members will be both independent and interdependent. Nurturing your team (even a little) achieves better team performance and ultimately better results.

If you are interested in creating a high-performance team, please call Linda at 416-617-0734 or email

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