High performing teams are essential to the success of any business unit, but they are especially important for partnership organizations. Within a partnership organization, a team’s collective skills, alignment, and communication are some of the pillars for cohesion. In order to foster that, you need a highly effective team – something many partnership, channel, and alliance organizations are lacking. Today connected teams demonstrate a 21% increase in profitability over their less-connected counterparts.
Exceptional teams require balanced skillsets, engagement in a shared vision, and mutual trust and respect. They also need, what I like to call the “special sauce,” hustle. In order to build a high performing team, you have to start at the foundation – balanced skillsets. Balanced skills within a team are established by hiring the right people. Let’s dive deeper into how to create an effectively balanced team.
Hiring to Build a Diverse Team
There will likely be a common thread that weaves the skills of all teammates in a high performing team together, but the whole of each individual should look different. If a team is filled with individuals that share the same backgrounds and areas of expertise, you are left with a skill and competency gap that will prevent your team from being able to thrive in a cross functional environment.
When you are hiring for your team, you should identify the skills and/or competences you, as a leader, are lacking as well as the skills that are currently missing for your team. Of course, you will also want to seek out the specific skills needed in a cross functional organization, such as technical savvy, business development, sales, and marketing.
After you have clearly identified the skills and competencies mentioned above, you have a filter for the type of candidates you should be specifically seeking out to diversify your team’s skills as a unit. Once you have built a diverse team, you need to foster engagement and excitement toward your team’s shared vision. 37% of employees said “working with a great team” was their primary reason for staying at an organization.
Fostering Engagement in the Vision
It is your responsibility to clearly articulate your organization’s vision and create excitement toward it within your team. Excitement comes from clear direction for each individual on your team. When everyone knows how they uniquely support the team’s common goal, as well as how they should work with their teammates to accomplish it, they feel empowered.
Think about your own professional experience for a moment. When you have felt valued as an individual while understanding how you should work within your team, you have a vastly different perspective on your work than when the opposite is true.
Once you have created excitement toward your team’s vision and empowered your teammates, you also have a transparent lens for feedback. Clear direction promotes clear feedback, which should be given regularly in a high performing team.
Clear direction also equips you and the individuals on your team with an effective way to measure performance, prompting excellent developmental conversations and transparent opportunities to reward your team’s hard work. It’s important to note, however, that developmental conversations and rewards only increase engagement if your team has a trusting, respectful environment – leading me to my next point.
Growth-Minded Teams Require Trust & Respect
We are all growing as professionals every day. That is something to embrace and celebrate! Growth comes not from our successes, but our shortcomings – something that can be a point of insecurity for many of us. It doesn’t feel good to fail openly, particularly when we don’t trust that the people around us are supportive of our development.
That is precisely why it is your responsibility, as a leader, to develop trusting relationships with each individual as well as to promote a respectful team culture. After all, you shouldn’t be the only person giving feedback! A high performing team is one that respectfully gives each other feedback, positive and constructive, with each member of the team trusting the intention behind the feedback, reflecting on it, and then putting the feedback into action.
Effective Leadership Results in Effective Teams
High performing teams are built and fostered by their leaders. In order to have a team that has open communication, appreciates the benefits of collaboration within the team, and one that has the hustle needed to creatively solve problems and adapt, they need an intentional leader. That is true for your work with the team as a unit as well as your leadership of each individual on your team.
If you can build a diverse team that is engaged and respectful, and you approach your leadership with a great deal of intention, you can have a high performing, cross-functional, team.
“The greatest leaders mobilize others by coalescing people around a shared vision” - Ken Blanchard