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Building High Performance Teams

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Somya Verma
February 14, 2022

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“The best teamwork comes from men who are working independently toward one goal in unison.” – James Cash Penney

Quick question. Which of these do you agree with?

  1. High performance teams are a group of skilled employees.
  2. High performance teams are regular teams that performed well by chance.
  3. High performance teams are a group of skilled employees with aligned objectives. 

If you agreed with the first two statements, you might be viewing the whole concept of high performance teams wrong. If you agreed with the third, you might be somewhat right. 

But let's dive deep, because high performance teams goes far beyond this.

High performance teams are more than just a bunch of skilled employees working together. Creating high performance teams requires careful planning and development of certain skills so that the members show up fully in their teams. 

A high performance team consists of individuals who are achievement oriented and at the same time don't lose the sight of the team's collective goal. Such individuals, when work together, bring out the best results as they create an environment of cooperation, collaboration, sense of accountability, and innovation.

Here, we have compiled a list of characteristics for you to identify whether your team has a potential to show up as a high performance team.

Characteristics of high performance teams

Clear Communication

Good communication enhances positive relationships within the team members.

In times of conflicts, it is the clarity in communication that makes the team diffuse the differences with ease and move ahead. Teams with better communication channels also come up with the most efficient solutions. So, for developing high performing teams it is important to not overlook the communication aspect within the team members.

Mutual Trust & Respect

Dana Brownlee, a senior contributor in Forbes writes about how Trust in teams – builds safety, encourages questioning, removes hesitations, reduces miscommunication, encourage innovation, rapid decision-making. Not only this, trust within the team improves the overall morale of the team. When you show trust on other team members, you show that you rely on their abilities, which pushes them to believe in themselves and work harder by utilizing each other's expertise. 


Team collaboration increases cooperation and reduces the feeling of “we are against each other”. It also creates an environment where everyone understands the each other's contribution to the bigger goal. It also encourages bringing different ideas and perspectives to the table, which enhances the overall quality of results. When leaders are building high performance teams, they should focus on creating an environment of mutual support, so that the team can accomplish even the toughest of targets by utilizing each other's expertise. 

Shared Goals

Teams with shared goals and vision stay united while working towards it – improving the overall outcomes. They stay focused and goal-oriented together. Even when distracted, they know how to bring each other back on the track. Shared purpose ensures that the team rise above personal agendas and march in the same direction. Shared goals also bring the team members on a common ground, whether it is for a Millennial employee or a Gen-Z employee.

Sense Of Accountability

According to Vince Molinaro, A Forbes Councils Member, accountable teams demonstrate two characteristics: (1) they have a high clarity about what they want to accomplish, and (2) every team member is completely committed to making it happen. In teams in which there is a running sense of accountability, the environment automatically becomes very proactive. Each member not only understands one's responsibility, but also does not hold back to remind others to do their job. Thus, the problem areas are identified quicker and thus solutions can be reached faster too.

Growth Culture

High performance teams never fail to see that there is always room for improvement. They learn from each other and their mistakes. Such teams don't see their skills as a fixed set. They see every challenge as an opportunity to develop new skills. Also, people working in such teams with a growth mindset are also open to feedback and criticisms if it can improve them professionally. They openly accept when others share their knowledge and share their wisdom and learnings with others without any ill-will.

PMaps Synthesized Model for developing High Performance Teams

We synthesized some famous and workable models developed to create high performance teams. This model can be implemented in order to create teams that give successful outcomes.

Despite multiple models related to what a high performance team should look like, there are many commonalities between the majority of them.

The 4 Characteristics of High Performance Teams Are:

Through this synthesis, our team arrived at a comprehensive understanding of high performance teams and found that when it comes to must-haves for high performance teams, 4 characteristics mainly come into play. These characteristics also show up on an individual level, which has been discussed as well –


First one, is known as, “TRUST”. Trust means the team feels secure to rely on their leader and on each other. This means trusting each others' potential, ability to deliver the results, and trusting one's team and its ability to give support in times of need.

The team is willing to come together and work towards a common goal. The team members carry a mutual regard and reliance towards each other. Such warm relationships creates a sense of psychological safety within the team.

At an individual level, the person is cooperative while working and demonstrates trust towards the fellow team members. The individual is also expressive in terms of one's opinions and shows curiosity. This results in a team that takes calculated risks and comes up with innovative solutions


The second one is, “COMMITMENT”. Commitment means having a sense of dedication towards the team goals. Such teams have clarity regarding the goals already. So they are better focused on planning how to accomplish them.

When the team is focused on accomplishing, they are more likely to hear alternate viewpoints. This means that even if the team members are willing to rise above the individual opinions for the sake of the bigger commitment, which is the organizational goal.

It is because they have discussed in an open environment and heard even the differing viewpoints, they are more accepting of the team decision. Such teams also work by tracing their steps and modifying them in a way that will make them attain the goals.

Talking about an individual employee, the person is clear about one's goals and work towards them with motivation and enthusiasm. The individual also has awareness about the progression of the work goals, allocation of resources within the organizations, one's contribution and role in the projects.


Third characteristics is, “ACCOUNTABILITY”. Cohesive teams aren't afraid to call each other out on the inefficient actions.

Since they realize the commitment towards their goals is stronger, they rise above the interpersonal discomfort and hold their peer accountable, if required. This also prevents team members loafing, and they put in their best efforts towards the decided goal.

Independently, the person takes responsibility for one's actions and never make decisions that aren't in the best interest of the whole team. They don't assume that someone else is answerable for the results (good or bad). They understand the importance of their say and don't hesitate to give inputs in creating solutions for the bigger problems.


The fourth characteristic is, “ATTENTION TO RESULTS”. When team members are held accountable, they put ahead the collective goal instead of their own needs (career growth, need for recognition, etc.).

When transitioned successfully through the first three areas – Trust, Commitment and Accountability, the team can give its undivided attention to the Results, growing the business in the long run.

On an individual level, the employee hustles in the best way possible to deliver the desired results. The individual is achievement oriented and demonstrates productive outcomes through their work – at most times, surpassing the expectations of the team.


It gets easier to align a team with the organizational objectives when it is in sync within itself. Thus creating high performance teams, gives a competitive advantage to the companies in the market as it leads to better productivity, resilient working, innovative ideas and results. Organizations need to take a step ahead and plan on building teams that run on such values for developing high performing teams. 

Along with this, it is important to hire employees who are innately inclined to perform better in team environments. Hiring for critical competencies can help find such potential! And finally, Team-based models and understanding the importance of internal networking as much as external networking will take business a long way.

–  Somya Verma

Team PMaps – Psychologist

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Performance Appraisals - Frequently Asked Questions

Learn more about performance appraisal commonly asked questions:

What defines a high performance team?

A high performance team consists of individuals who are achievement-oriented, maintain focus on the team's collective goal, and demonstrate cooperation, collaboration, accountability, and innovation.

Are high performance teams merely a group of skilled employees?

No, high performance teams go beyond being just a group of skilled employees. They require careful planning and development of skills to foster cooperation, collaboration, and shared accountability among team members.

How do high performance teams differ from regular teams?

High performance teams exhibit a higher level of achievement orientation, cooperation, collaboration, and innovation compared to regular teams. They are characterized by a strong focus on achieving collective goals while maximizing individual contributions.

What are some key characteristics of high performance teams?

Key characteristics of high performance teams include achievement orientation, cooperation, collaboration, shared accountability, and innovation. These teams are comprised of individuals who work together seamlessly towards achieving common objectives.

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