High Performance Teams
The ultimate team experience that holds both the greatest challenge and the greatest opportunity to improve productivity is the high performance team (HPT). Within an HPT, people must work closely together by performing many different roles while still knowing their main purpose in the HPT, and working effectively within the organization to get tasks accomplished efficiently. The three most important aspects of an HPT include the following:
According to an article by Inc. magazine, it is important to first examine the main characteristics of an HPT. An effective team needs to do the following three things:
Understand the Big Picture
In an effective team, each team member needs to understand the context of the team's work to the greatest degree possible. This includes understanding the relevance of his or her job and how it impacts the effectiveness of others, as well as the overall team effort. Too often, people are asked to work on part of a task without being told how their role contributes to the desired end result or how their efforts impact the ability of others to do their work. Understanding the big picture promotes collaboration, increases commitment, and improves quality.
Share Common Goals
Effective teams have agreed-upon goals that are simple, measurable and relevant to the team's task. Each goal is available to everyone on the team and they can be used to determine the team's effectiveness and improvement. Understanding and working toward these common goals as a unit is crucial to the team's effectiveness.
Work Collaboratively as a Group
Collaboration and a solid sense of interdependency in a team are characteristics that help to create a strong HPT. These characteristics can help to conflicts within the HPT while stimulating opportunities for learning and improvement. For a team that does not share a team spirit where team members are interdependent in their responsibilities and rewards, conflicts may occur, which will quickly erode team effectiveness.
High Performance Teams at Boeing
A great example of HPTs can be found within the Boeing Company, the largest global air manufacturer. Their approach was to create a hierarchy of teams with the goal of satisfying the customer. Boeing's plan was to create a pyramid of teams with members from engineering, manufacturing, and finance. At the top of the pyramid was the management team, which was composed of five or six senior managers, each from separate disciplines. These individuals were ultimately responsible for the project coming in on time. Boeing's HPTs involved approximately 10,000 employees and more than 500 suppliers. The hierarchical team approach worked efficiently and effectively because they created a logical system of teams.
On this wiki, we will provide further examples, like the one at Boeing, while explaining important ways to create an HPT, interact within an HPT, and evaluate the effectiveness of an HPT.
For an overview of this topic, please consider:
Musselwhite, C. (2007). Building and Leading High Performance Teams.