Skip to main content

Secret ingredients for a high-performance team culture

As a manager, it can be tricky to get the balance right in your management style.  You want to be supportive and helpful to your team but you also want to stretch them.  Research has shown that high-performance teams share a common mind-set.  They are fully committed to supporting each other and they are prepared to challenge too.  They do both because it leads them to better places.  A supportive mind-set encourages listening, valuing the contribution of individuals, being inclusive, building trust, a good atmosphere and genuinely caring.  A challenging mind-set encourages constructive debate, questioning, feedback, agreeing stretching goals, taking responsibility and holding self and others to account. It’s a combined approach that’s hard to develop and maintain but is the only one that consistently delivers high performance and results.  All this needs to come from and be role modelled by the team’s leader.  So, if you are one, what example are you setting and if you’re not a manager but an important member of the team, what are you contributing?

Low in both

When there’s little support or challenge, the only place it leads to is apathy.  The team does just enough to stay out of trouble, but it never invests in relationships or truly commits to the work.  If you’re in a team like that and you can influence it, great.  If you can’t – get out.  You’ll learn little and achieve even less.

High in challenge, low in support

 This leads to a stressful team environment.  You have the push of the challenge without the pull of the support, so you start to create a team where everyone looks out for themselves, results are short term and development is random.  This sort of team energy works for some, others will fall by the wayside.  Either way people are in survival mode, which means you get into bad habits and long term it won’t get you the best results.

High in support, low in challenge

 This is a great big gooey hug of a team mind-set where relationships are prioritised over results.  As a manager you encourage care and kindness, as a team, you’re on each other’s side 24/7.  It sounds good and it can feel good to be part of, but it lacks the challenge that pushes people to achieve more, find better ways, ask powerful questions, say what needs to be said and develop along the way.  Teams in this shared mind-set can kid themselves they are high performing.  They rarely are.

High in both

If consistent high performance is what you strive for, this is where you want to be.  It’s easy to talk about but tough to do and requires real commitment from everyone.  How do you know when you’re in it?  You feel free enough to have the autonomy to act and connected enough to commit fully to the team’s results not just your own.  You also feel a bit scared sometimes.  You’re part of something really good and you don’t want to be the weak link.  So, whether you’re the manager or a member of the team – you step up.

There are many practical ways to develop a high support/high challenge team mind-set.  If that is where you’re headed but you need some extra ideas on how to get there quicker, talk to us about how you can lead your team to consistent high performance or be in a team that doesn’t accept mediocrity.  We’ll happily spill the beans on what it takes and we’ll support and challenge you to get there.