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What are the ingredients of a high-performing team?

Submitted by on Thursday, 17 June 2010No Comment

It’s official! High-performing teams really are the result of individual differences, not similarities.

This study of 144 short-term project teams has discovered that ‘maximising differences in types of knowledge, skills, and abilities, while minimising differences in job-related beliefs, attitudes, and values might create especially effective teams’, as concluded by the study’s author Dr Harrison from Penn State University.

Yet – time and time again – as we are still finding in Asia’s high-growth market that companies are doing the opposite: selecting and forming teams based on similarities, not differences – and that this is creating serious performance issues down the line in vital areas such as innovation, collaboration, leadership and initiative.

First things first – get the roles right

It’s not difficult for companies to rectify this. But first they need to have clarity not only about not about what they are trying to achieve but how they are going to achieve it.

This ‘how’ happens through people. Yet only rarely do companies think about the composition of their teams in terms of trying to get people to ‘stand out’ as opposed to ‘fitting in’.

Teambuilding Thailand

As Jim Collins pointed out in his landmark book Good to Great, ‘standing out’ is not about knowledge, intelligence or skills, but Talents, specifically our ‘innate abilities’ that make us unique.

These talents include such abilities as concept organisation, idea productivity, spatial relations visualisation and tonal memory, among the 19 key talents as assessed in the Highlands Ability Battery.

Teams that try to diminish differences in their talents will underperform, as Dr Harrison’s research has demonstrated.

The Behavioural Dimension

Dr Harrison found the following were the greatest barriers to team effectiveness:

  1. An inability to agree on strategic goals
  2. Personality Conflicts
  3. Different levels of commitment

The first is common in teams, and often takes place because the team members don’t discuss, or aren’t allowed to discuss (by, say, the team leader) the strategic objectives.

Personality Conflicts are often an effect of not knowing our talents, and ways of problem-solving and working (which is why a tool such as the Highlands Ability Battery is so valuable).

Different levels of commitment are usually an effect of the combination of the above.

So by starting at the root, teams can develop effectively into high-performing units. But there needs to be a team consciousness of how to do this.

Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Patrick Lencioni has provided a great framework for this, based on his research, in Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team, a programme also facilitated by us here at Talent Technologies.

Simply contact us here if you would like more details!


Talent Technologies :: Management Training Programmes in Thailand and South-East Asia

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