Characteristics of a High-Performance Team

  • by kaibizzen
  • Nov 04, 2020
  • Blog

Over the last few weeks, Kaibizzen’s Performance Mentor, my husband and NRL tragic Rob Caughey was in his glory. Thanks to COVID, the NRL premiership rolled straight into the start of the State of Origin series.

I’ve always said the ‘game’ of business is much like sport and there are so many lessons we can take from premiership winning teams like the Melbourne Storm.

Although Rob’s very happy the NRL season’s been extended by a few weeks, he’s also had to deal with the disappointment of his team taking out the wooden spoon for the first time in the club’s history. In just one season, the Broncos went from being a high-performance team, to poor-performance team. In contrast, the Melbourne Storm, despite being subjected to the same challenging circumstances, continued to perform at the highest level.

So what makes the difference between wooden spooners and premiership winning teams?

Skills and abilities.



Now, many would maintain – and they’d be right – all players performing at an elite level have the skill and the ability to be there.

So really, what makes the difference is how those skills and abilities are deployed within the team, how focused the team are and how truly in alignment they are.

In the NRL world, achieving the status of the highest performance team, guarantees premiership victory. In the business world, achieving the status of the highest performance team, guarantees achievement of your goals as the business owner.

So, what does a business high performance team look like?

Obviously, every team will have its own nuances but, by and large, all high performance teams have three things in common.

1. Absolute Clarity

People can’t work to their highest standard if they are unsure of what they are meant to be doing and what they are working towards. Each game the Melbourne Storm are focussed on what they have to do to win that game. While the premiership is an important focus at the start of the season, a great team knows they won’t be playing in the finals if they aren’t focussing on winning each game, as it comes up.

As the leader of our business we must have absolute clarity about what results we are looking for from our business and what our business needs to look like to achieve that.

We must have absolute clarity about what are all the functions which need to be performed in the business to achieve those results and what people we need to help us achieve those functions and outcomes.

Likewise, our team must have absolute clarity about where the business is headed and what they need in their role to help them achieve that outcome.

Have you and your team got absolute clarity?

If so, great you are only a few games away from ultimate victory. If not, here’s a great place to start.

2. Strong behavioural frameworks

Craig Bellamy, the coach of Melbourne Storm, is often referred to as “the best coach in the modern era”. One thing for certain is he does not tolerate questionable behaviour from any of his team. As the coach he consistently addresses any misdemeanour, no matter how small; firmly but fairly.

Likewise, as a business leader seeking to have a high performing team, if you’re not actively shaping ALL the behaviours of your team members you’re actively neglecting a key component of any high performing team. Behaviours drive everything we do – good and bad. When it comes to business you need to be ensuring everyone’s actions and behaviours are conducive to helping you achieve the success you are looking for.

In fact, allow me to be so bold to say, that the level of success you are achieving in your business right now, is a direct reflection of you and your teams’ actions and behaviours. The standard we accept is the standard we can expect!!

As a leader it is imperative we have a behavioural framework which is agreed to by all team members. Facilitate a process to develop your company’s behavioural framework if it’s not done so already. Any new team members are recruited to those standards and sign their agreement to those standards.

In high performance organisations, these desired behaviours drive all business interactions.

For example, if you agree upon honesty as a behaviour in your framework, you will then prioritise being honest with your clients and your peers above most other things.

3. Genuine relationships and communication

There is no such thing as a high performance team without strong relationships and genuine communication. The two attributes are closely linked. The ability to have open, honest and genuine conversations is what builds strong relationships, and the stronger your relationships the more genuine your communication will become.

These traits are critical for high performance teams because without honest communication and the relationships which follow, it becomes nearly impossible to fix inconsistencies in performance. You want a team of people who have strong enough relationships to talk openly and honestly about wins, losses, areas of improvements and beyond. Tough conversations need to be had in environments where everyone feels safe to state their perspective without fear of hurt feelings or animosity.

How can you build a high performance team?

So now that you know the characteristics of a high performing team, how can you hone these traits?

1. Build your own leadership skills

The process must begin with your own leadership capability. Leadership capability can be learned and honed. As a business owner, your number one priority is to invest in yourself so you can better understand what skills are required to lead your team towards higher performance.

2. Build an aligned team

Once you are have greater confidence in your own leadership you can bring your team on board. It’s imperative you spend time sharing with them your vision for your business and how they fit into that vision. As said earlier you must work with them to reach agreement on a behavioural framework that is most conducive to helping you achieve your goals. What behavioural and performance traits are most important to you? What work will this require from all your team members? The process of creating, implementing and revising these behaviours will require lots of honest conversations but this is how you align your team to become high performers.

3. Influencing cultural change

In last week’s post I talked about creating a culture that embraces change. Slowly, and with commitment from your whole team, like the Melbourne Storm, you can have the best performance and behaviour engrained into the DNA of your business – otherwise known as your culture.

Then it is crucial as the leader you consistently firmly and fairly hold your team accountable for all the “successes” and “failures” on your journey towards high performance.

A two-way feedback process, you to your team and your team back to you will not only realign the team, but display your commitment to a highly performing culture and business.

If you’d like to know more about how Rob and I could work with you and your team to drive better business outcomes and performance, reach out for a confidential discussion. We’d love to work along side you to create the business and lifestyle you deserve for you and your family.

02 Oct

Panel Discussion

Tuesday, 6:30pm Quest Cannon Hill

What does it take to actually remove yourself from the day-to-day grind of business? Learn from our panel of Business Owners who've Been There, Done That.



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