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Set the standard

by Brian Smith and Mary Smith
Indian Management October 2021

Organisations who wish to build high-performing teams—ones that easily collaborate, innovate, empower, and inspire each other to achieve unified goals—must commit to hiring the right employees, laying a foundation of trust, and providing proper training.

Organisations who wish to build high-performing teams—ones that easily collaborate, innovate, empower, and inspire each other to achieve unified goals—must commit to hiring the right employees, laying a foundation of trust, and providing proper training. Additionally, managers who wish to cultivate teams that produce superior results must be encouraging, transparent, and empathetic.

By utilising the following three methods to build high-performing teams, organisations will gain a competitive edge.

  • Hire the right people. Building a highperforming team starts with hiring the right people. It is important to steer clear of hiring for ‘culture fit’. Instead, organisations should strive to hire for technical and values fit. Technical fit means the new hire will possess most or all of the skills required to perform the job. Values fit will help align new team members with the organisation, giving them a boost in their drive. Hiring for culture fit can create assimilation, which can hinder team diversity. Diversity has been proven to increase team collaboration and innovation, so hiring for values fit will help you build a diverse team that shares the same values rather than the same personality. By sharing the same or similar values, teams will naturally become high-performing as they feel compelled to meet organisational goals and work together to bring their shared values into reality.

  • Lay a foundation of trust. Trust is the foundation of all management. Retaining talent and building a high-performing team must be done through the establishment of trust. Trust begins with setting expectations clearly, providing the foundation to meet or exceed those expectations, providing positive support along the path of achievement, and then rewarding success. Organisations can succeed in trust building by upholding organisational structure, remaining ethical by being truthful, vulnerable, and authentic, being consistent in the treatment of team members (showing no favouritism), demonstrating empathy, having humility, and staying open-minded.

  • Provide proper training. Team members must be well-equipped with the knowledge necessary to handle their tasks and projects efficiently. Should they lack the training or knowledge to complete their objectives, projects and tasks could be left unfinished, take longer than expected to complete, and become demoralising. While you will likely hire individuals who possess most, if not all, of the knowledge necessary to succeed on your team, when hiring for values fit, you may find that some training is necessary. This is a great opportunity to perpetuate your team’s high-performing culture by partnering more senior members with the individuals who require more training, creating a mentorship bond. Teams that help each other grow, learn, and evolve maintain collaboration, innovation, and inspiration.

However, building a highperforming team cannot be completed in isolation. This process requires that managers remain their most positive influence and set the standard for their team. Should managers choose to take on this task, they must remain mindful of the following:

  • Managers must remain encouraging. When encouraging team members, managers give them support, build their confidence, and instill hope in the team member’s abilities and finally, the organisation. Team members who feel encouraged strive; they enjoy and easily show up to work every day driven to give their team their best. By encouraging all team members, managers build high-performing teams that surpass objectives. Think of encouragement as a flame; the more often people possess this flame and the brighter it burns, the more likely they are to spark that flame in others, driving further encouragement without the manager’s presence.
  • Managers must be transparent. Being transparent means being honest and authentic. Managers who involve their team in tough but necessary conversations not only instill trust in their team, but also bring together more diverse minds to brainstorm solutions. Showing vulnerability and humanity is part of being transparent, so managers who have the confidence to say, “I don’t know, but let me help you find out” perpetuate trust and support. We all know that nobody is perfect, nor does everyone have all the answers. So, managers who act as if they are all-knowing create a barrier between themselves and their team, instilling distrust.
  • Managers must demonstrate empathy. Empathy is the ability to recognise and categorise the emotions another individual is feeling, as well as being able to demonstrate this understanding in a way that makes the experience positive for both individuals. This involves being compassionate, which is the wish to not see others suffer. Managers who are emotionally intelligent enough to demonstrate empathy to their employees create spaces of safety. Even when building highperforming teams, it is important to remember that everyone is still human and will have some bad days. Instead of alienating them, managers must open themselves to helping their team heal and get to a place where they can perform their best. This may be as simple as listening and offering support or can be more complex, such as creating a training program to help team members learn the skills necessary to avoid repeated emotional catastrophes.

Humans are complex, but managers who remain open-minded and grounded in their values can easily unlock the wealth of human potential and build high-performing teams. Building such a team requires patience in the hiring process, diligence in instilling trust, and correct observations about training opportunities. These teams can produce superior results, elevating the organisation far above its competitors. Organisations may even set the standard in their industry should they master the art of building high-performing teams.

Brian Smith is founder and Senior Managing Partner, IA Business Advisors. He is coauthor, Individual Advantages: Be the “I” in Team

Mary Smith is coauthor, Individual Advantages: Be the “I” in Team.

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