Characteristics of High-Performing Teams

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Bruna Vasconcelos
By
Bruna Vasconcelos
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Head of People
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Table of Contents

Discover the 13 team characteristics that drive success in an organization, from trust and clear communication to strong leadership. Learn to strategically assemble, nurture, and lead teams for increased performance, employee engagement, and team effectiveness.
Published on
July 10, 2023
Updated on
May 1, 2024

A high-performing team can make or break your business; members can collaborate to tackle problems more efficiently and enhance productivity and creativity. This superior team performance can pour into other work areas, improving other workgroups and the workplace as a whole.

High-performing teams have a ripple effect. Whether leading or working on one, you'll observe heightened morale and improved decision-making within your organization. Understanding a high-performing team and its main attributes are stepping stones to building excellence-focused collaborative team members.

What Are High-Performing Teams?

A high-performing team is a group of goal-oriented individuals with diverse skills who work together to achieve top-notch results and adapt effectively to challenges. These employees strive toward exceptional performance and innovation within an organization. They pursue these shared visions through collaboration, communication, accountability, respect, and trust.

13 Key Characteristics of High-Performing Teams

Specific characteristics separate an average team from a high-performing team. In fact, research has highlighted the most desirable traits of a successful team: members must be independent, capable, and have a deep understanding of one another.

Employees in high-performing teams will likely be more engaged and involved while tackling their roles and responsibilities, thus having more fulfilling professional lives. While all these attributes are important, they aren’t the only ones that matter when building a cohesive engineering team.

Other essential elements of high-performing teams include:

1. Strong Team Culture

Cultivating a strong team culture nurtures healthy relationships among team members, contributes to optimal performance, and enhances decision-making. It also aids in engaging and retaining team members, providing a sense of support.

Establishing a collective atmosphere rooted in core values and a shared vision is critical for team success. As a team leader or decision-maker, you must actively promote a solid group ethos through opportune guidance and positive reinforcement.

2. Trust and Mutual Respect

When creating high-performing teams, building trust and respect is vital. It's not only about generating a rapport between team members; it’s also about fostering mutual trust and respect between the team and the leader and vice versa.

Trust creates a secure environment, promoting openness, risk-taking, and vulnerability among team members. This, in turn, makes room for innovation, collaboration, and overall productivity, which increases confidence and sets a supportive environment with strong bonds.

3. Efficient Workflow Practices

Ineffective or absent workflow practices can pose challenges and potentially impede team productivity. As a result, issues in planning and executing business-related strategies and projects may arise.

Essential workflow practices for you and your team include:

  • Clear task delegation helps define each team member's duties properly.
  • Strategic tool selection is vital to simplify processes, automate tasks, and enhance collaboration.
  • Vision-driven responsibilities help ensure everyone works towards the same objectives and maximize your team's impact.

Streamlined workflow practices reduce wasted time and effort, leading to optimal results. By implementing this comprehensive approach, you can support your team and boost their performance.

4. Clear Communication

Strong communication is the cornerstone of any successful relationship between coworkers. Without it, misunderstandings prevail, collaboration falters, and valuable time and resources go to waste. Therefore, investing in clear and effective communication is a non-negotiable in high-performing teams.

Mastering both oral and written communication skills unlocks a wealth of benefits: It can boost competence, knowledge, and productivity while helping you manage conflict and build trust and respect. Conducting regular meetings and check-ins, encouraging clarifying questions and personal conversations, and setting clear expectations are a few ways to promote this pivotal practice.  

5. Constructive Feedback

Even where high-performing teams generally excel, members and leaders should acknowledge there's always room for continuous improvement. This growth mindset is what separates these workgroups from the ordinary. Giving constructive feedback is the best way to promote ongoing progress within an organization. It allows you to observe and correct mistakes while supporting individuals to better themselves.

It’s also important to encourage your team members to open up to you as well. Whether they have thoughts about their peers' work or want to share constructive criticism concerning your performance as a team leader, listening with an open mind will help your team feel heard and their opinions valued.  

6. Team-First Mentality

Individual assignments have their place, but complex projects often require a collective approach. In other words, when working on a team, all members must think collectively and work on projects as a group. Putting the team first fosters a shared purpose, promotes knowledge exchange, and mitigates silos.

If team members don’t put the team first, they may struggle to work well together and find success. Miscommunication, hindered performance, and higher error rates are just some potential pitfalls unchecked individualism can cause in an organization. Cultivating a collaborative culture is the foundation upon which high-performing teams drive company success.

7. Defined Roles

While it’s important to have a team-first mentality and the ability to work as a group, it’s equally necessary to have defined roles for each team member. Defining functions and responsibilities can help your team be more productive. It will ensure that your team members know their specific duties, which can decrease the chances of duplication, confusion, and frustration.

8. Diversity

When selecting your team, go beyond a singular skill set and embrace the power of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). This encompasses building teams with diverse perspectives brought together by gender representation, varied skill sets, and diverse identities, lived experiences, and backgrounds.

Diversifying your team allows them to be more knowledgeable in various fields. They will generate fresh ideas from their differing perspectives, helping them make better decisions and feel more comfortable giving their opinions.

9. Collaboration

Teamwork is all about joint effort. A collaborative approach helps build authentic connections between team members and improves how a team works together. It also enhances problem-solving, communication, and overall efficiency while building respect and trust.

You’ll need to build a positive working environment to encourage collaboration. Host meetings when necessary to check in with your employees and allow your team some creative freedom.

10. Measurable Objectives

Setting measurable objectives and clear KPIs allows teams to aim for something they know is attainable. It also helps them understand when they’ve accomplished an objective so that they can move on to the next challenge. In other words, it gives them a purpose and a drive to reach the end goal.

When objectives aren’t measurable, there’s no way to tell when your team has reached its goal, leading to frustration and confusion.

11. Defined Goals

Setting specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals empowers your team to thrive. A performance improvement plan, built on clearly defined and actionable goals, can be a powerful motivator.

But more than just setting goals, defining how your team will achieve them is crucial. Breaking them down into clear steps can also help prevent your team from getting overwhelmed while working toward the bigger picture.

Setting individual and common goals can help keep your team moving forward and tackle day-to-day tasks. They’ll prevent team members from stalling, getting stuck, or wondering what to prioritize next.

12. Strong Leadership

Effective leadership is the guiding force that provides direction, encourages collaboration, and navigates challenges. Even high-performing teams need to know they have someone to turn to in times of crisis or confusion. A strong leader has the following characteristics:

  1. Resilience under pressure: The ability to remain calm and composed in challenging situations allows a leader to make sound decisions and inspire confidence in the team.
  2. Skillful conflict resolution: Leaders adept at mediating disagreements and promoting understanding can prevent internal strife and maintain team cohesion.
  3. Focus on accountability: Strong leaders know how to set clear expectations and hold individuals accountable to ensure progress and maintain a high standard of performance.
  4. Motivation and direction: When articulating a clear vision and creating a shared sense of purpose, leaders motivate team members and drive them towards collective team goals.

The lack of strong leadership, however, can be vastly detrimental. Without it, a team can crumble, team morale can plummet, and progress can grind to a halt.

13. Continued Individual Development

Building a high-performing team means creating a collaborative environment and facilitating team development. However, encouraging individual growth is also vital.

When you prioritize individual development, you send a powerful message: your team members' growth matters beyond their current roles. This fuels their motivation, increases loyalty, and shows them they're valued as individuals. Engaged and motivated teams are more productive and impactful.

Building High-Performing Teams

Building high-performing teams requires a strategic approach and commitment to fostering the right conditions for success. While getting started can often be challenging, performing a team health check to assess your team’s needs can help you get started.

Consider the above characteristics and remember the importance of trust and respect among all parties involved. In addition, develop shared goals and a team vision, highlighting the importance of core value alignment in joint success. Here are seven other tips to get you closer to your high-performing team-building goals.

Select Team Members Strategically

Strategic team composition sets organizations up for greatness. Bringing together individuals with the right skills, experience, and perspectives to achieve specific, clear goals enables a smooth workflow and maximizes output. When teams align everybody’s strengths with everyday tasks and challenges, everyone can contribute from their zone of genius, minimizing overlap and redundancy.

Expertise in different areas makes room for smarter decisions based on well-rounded knowledge and understanding. This, in turn, reduces the risk of blind spots and leads to more effective collaborations. However, as circumstances and goals change, the ideal team composition may, too, need to evolve. Regularly assess your team's effectiveness and adjust to keep things running smoothly.

Encourage Innovation

Leaders who foster a culture of experimentation and risk-taking reap significant benefits for both their teams and the organization. They encourage individuals to explore new approaches and break free from traditional methods, which may lead to enhanced problem-solving and increased adaptability.

Innovation is also the engine of creativity, driving the development of new ideas, products, and services. Teams that take this trait seriously are more likely to develop unique and groundbreaking solutions that give their organization a competitive edge. This can increase market share, customer satisfaction, and brand reputation.

Implement Feedback Loops

Open communication helps guarantee information flows freely, ideas are heard, and problems are addressed promptly within a team. It creates a foundation of trust, enabling a collaborative and supportive atmosphere where people can find common ground to work more efficiently.

When team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts without fear of judgment, they're more likely to join forces and take risks. This prompts them to challenge assumptions, identify potential flaws, and ultimately reach stronger solutions. Additionally, feedback loops hold individuals accountable for their actions and contributions, leading to higher levels of ownership and commitment.

Promote Continuous Learning and Career Growth Opportunities

Strong teams have a proven ability to keep up with the times. However, to obtain that coveted superpower, you must actively nurture your team members' curiosity and hunger for knowledge. If you’re surrounded by individuals who are eager to expand their skill set, water that seed; don’t let it die.

If, on the other hand, you see no clear learning intent in some individuals, find ways to motivate them to take the plunge with the rest. For example, you can reward them for attending conferences or enrolling in special training programs.

Keep in mind that as industries change, a team equipped with evolving talents can stay ahead of the curve. Fresh and relevant skills are a powerful catalyst for adaptability that enables teams to overcome challenges and embrace new technologies as they emerge.

Enable Leadership Development

Great leaders are capable of creating an environment where all team members, regardless of their roles, feel trusted and competent at work. They provide the necessary resources and support to help individuals build their confidence and tackle whatever day-to-day operations may be thrown their way.

Investing time, funds, and efforts in leadership development also allows businesses to build a strong pipeline of future top management professionals. It enables them to identify and nurture team members with leadership potential, helping them gain the necessary experience to take on more prominent roles within the organization. In the long run, investing in employee development opportunities will increase the chances of a smoother leadership transition and ensure the team's continued success.

Monitor Your Wins and Loses

Building a winning, high-performing team requires one key ingredient: tracking progress transparently. After all, you must clearly know where you’re standing at all times — and share this information with stakeholders.

Regular, easy-to-understand reports with both victories and challenges keep everyone on the team accountable and on track toward long-term goals. If you feel like keeping tabs on this information is becoming too much, you can automate repetitive tasks in your data-driven endeavors to free up your team's time to focus on the essential work that drives success.

Lead By Example

As a leader, your actions speak louder than your words. That’s why you must embody diligence and dedication if you want your team to embrace a strong work ethic. Showing commitment and values establishes a clear benchmark for your team's performance. If you play your cards right, you’ll foster an environment of excellence that motivates everyone to push themselves.

When you practice what you preach, what you’re actually doing is building trust with your team. They see you're not just demanding from the sidelines but actively contributing and invested in the shared success. This level of respect can only strengthen team cohesion and boost loyalty.

Build High-Performing Development Teams With Revelo

Understanding the key characteristics of a high-performing team enables companies to assemble world-class engineering units. This translates into seamless collaboration, groundbreaking innovation, and optimized efficiency. At Revelo, we bridge the gap between your team-building needs and a diverse pool of time-zone-aligned Latin American-based developers.

Our meticulously vetted professionals boast the necessary soft skills, technical abilities, and English proficiency for your organization to thrive. Beyond talent acquisition, we provide onboarding support, including payroll and benefits administration, local taxes, and compliance with local laws throughout a developer's tenure.

Partner with Revelo and experience the transformative power of onboarding the right people. Contact us to start assembling your high-performing team today.

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