Posted on 20 August 2016 by Colin Adam

All businesses strive to be as competitive and successful as possible, and in order to achieve this, it’s important that teams at all levels in the organisation operate in high performance mode.

“Performing” is the fourth stage of Bruce Tuckman’s well known team stage model (Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, Adjourning).  The question is, a leader faced with building a high performance team, what critical components do you need to ensure are in place in order to achieve this? Here are four of the most important:

1. Clarity and Alignment

Can each team member accurately describe in their own words the following, without referring to any documentation?

  • Mission – the meaning and purpose of our organisation and our team – our identity – why we exist
  • Vision – what we intend to have achieved by a certain specified time. (This refers not only to the overall organisation, but also to the team and how the two are related.)

Roles and Structure:

  • What does my leader expect of me in terms of deliverables and standards?
  • What is the role of each other team member? How does my role relate to theirs? How does my role contribute to the team’s and organisation’s mission and vision?
  • How does my team inter-relate with other teams?


  • How am I performing relative to agreed expectations (deliverables and standards)?
  • What am I doing to improve my performance? What is in my agreed personal development plan and am I actioning it?

2. Relationships

High quality relationships are built partly on living out agreed shared values and partly on being able to conduct certain skillful conversations.

Shared Values:

  • Does the team have a set of agreed, shared values linked to organisational values?
  • Are the team’s values consistently displayed in the behaviour of all team members?

Skillful Feedback Conversations:

Do all team members offer and receive feedback frequently and skillfully on their performance, and how well they display the agreed values?

Skillful Conflict Conversations:

Are all team members able to disagree, challenge, and offer different points of view easily and openly without attacking each other personally or becoming defensive?

  • Are team members able to resolve differences in a positive manner and enhance relationships in the process?
  • Do team members have a method for handling conflict situations in a positive way?

Skillful Coaching Conversations:

Are team members able to coach others in order to help people think through and resolve their own challenges without having to get someone else to come up with solutions?

Skillful Collaboration Conversations:

Do team members have a method of working together as a team, in a collaborative and inclusive way, to solve real-time problems and challenges?

3. Avoid “Groupthink”

The tendency for loyal, cohesive teams to reach apparent consensus on decisions which turn out to be dangerously incorrect. (The concept was well researched by Irving Janus)

  • Does the team challenge the status quo and commonly agreed ways of doing things?
  • Is there enough contrary thinking in the team? Or does the team reach consensus too quickly without fully considering other possibilities, likely consequences, or potentially negative outcomes?

4. People Development

Skilled craftsmen know how to work with their raw materials and tools. As a leader you work with people. How is your knowledge and skill in this aspect?

  • How do you get people interested in learning and growing?
  • How can you get people to stretch themselves willingly?
  • How can you encourage, motivate and inspire people so that they want to follow you?

These are just a few of the important themes to reflect on and possibly take action on, if your intention is to create a high performing team.

Ennea International has taken these, and other factors, into account and developed a set of holistic solutions to build world-class leadership and team effectiveness.  Our solutions comprise a development platform of products, processes and methodologies, based on global best practice.

by Colin Adam, Director: People Development, Ennea International