Why Can’t Organizations Keep High-Performing Teams Working Consistently?

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Having mentored hundreds of high-performing teams over the years, I have seen great successes. Unfortunately, I have also seen far too many failures. Obviously, my experiences bring up a big question: “Why is it that many organizations can’t consistently keep high-performing teams working in all areas?” Typically, the answer comes down to just a few basic reasons.

High-Performing teams, problem solving activities, performance management, operational excellence

Sometimes, team leaders set the team up for failure right from the very beginning

The first reason can be found behind the scenes when top management is not a believer in high-performing teams. If the organization’s leaders subscribe to more of a “theory X-type” style of management, as opposed to a more participative “theory-Y style” of leadership, the team members will not believe in their own abilities or performance. The worst type of manager is the one that listens to ideas and then tells the team what to do. This is a fatal step to take with a team and guarantees they will not reach the status of “high-performing.”

Another situation that hinders teams is the creation of a team that is either too small or too large. Three members or fewer creates the problem of no diversity and limited resources. Seven members is typically ideal for most projects. Teams with more than ten members start to be a problem because it’s too hard to keep everyone in-tune.

Sometimes, team leaders set the team up for failure right from the very beginning. This can happen due to several issues. For example, if a leader loads the team up with too many of one personality type, that team will struggle. To avoid this scenario, pick the personality profiling tool you like best and then try to select team members who bring different strengths and weaknesses. This may sound counter-intuitive on the surface, but it really does matter.

Unrealistic expectations can also shoot your high-performing team in the foot, whether those expectations are too low or too high. If given no or very low expectations, the team will go nowhere. Conversely, tasking the members with real or perceived expectations that can’t be met defeats and demoralizes the team before they can even begin. Finally, the team leader or facilitator may be the reason why the team fails.

Oftentimes, management is unable or does not know how to support the team. Either through not providing enough guidance, resources or support of good decisions, a team leader can destroy the chances of creating a high-performing team through inaction. Additionally, management that fails to give the right kind of leadership to the team guarantees a wasted effort.

Through establishing the correct size for your team, carefully selecting your members, providing measurable and realistic expectations for all involved, and effective team leadership, your organization can foster high-performing teams across all functional areas. If your organization is struggling to create high-performing teams, put these suggestions to the test and you will begin to see real results.

If you have an interest in learning more how the Code of Conduct can transform teams, join me for my webinar 3 tactics REVEALED to Crack the CODE on High-Performing Teams. ┬áHere’s the registration link:


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Kim Crabtree, President of MetaOps WBENC Certified