How to foster a high performing team dynamic in a data-informed way?
General business | Specialist | Expert

How to foster a high performing team dynamic in a data-informed way?

According to research by Gusto, 37% of employees view teamwork as a very important reason for staying at a company they currently work for. Being part of a high-performing team can act as a great motivator for people, and encourage them to stay at their jobs longer. All of this translates into significant business benefits.

In the following article, I am going to talk about how to create a high-performing team, as well as share with you a couple of examples of companies who follow the HPT approach.

Let’s start off with a question.

What is a high performing team? 

We can define a high performing team as a group of highly knowledgeable individuals with complementary skills who work together to achieve a common goal. They continuously collaborate and innovate, which lets them deliver superior results, constantly.  

Why does your company need to build high performing teams? 

Back in the olden days, organizations were built around one concept – efficiency. This concept goes way back to the industrial revolution, when manufacturers focused on repetitive (i.e., predictable) work. 

However, with the passage of time and the rise of new technologies, this efficiency-based model became irrelevant. Businesses found themselves in need of redesigning their operational structure. 

The call for change was already strongly visible decades before COVID-19 forced companies to alter business operations. In the 1980s, companies like General Electric and Boeing were among the first to “merge the business goals of the organization with social needs of the individuals”and organize in small interdisciplinary groups to get the work done. 

In 2006, a study by the American Psychological Association found confirmation in HPT effectiveness, proving that people perform best when they’re arranged in groups. Fast forward ten years, a study by Deloitte already showed that organizations recognized re-arranging their operational model towards the network of connected teams concept instead of a divisional concept. They recognized it as the number one human capital objective (with 92% stating that it was of huge importance). 

#1 human capital trend

This approach remains a top priority well into 2021, and is reflected in the company’s most recent human capital report.

How do the best companies build high performing teams?  

There are a number of approaches. To name one, Kaizenko’s Fadi Stephan recommends the Drexler/Sibbet team performance model, where teams start off with the so-called “bouncing ball” concept, i.e., an open, creative streak to generate ideas. They then seek to ground them in reality, work on them together as a team to formulate goals, and define the limitations. Overtime, they return to the “bouncing ball” stage to re-assess their work and fuel it with new concepts and implementations. 

Now, let’s take a look at two global brands, Intercom and Gitlab, that have recently embraced the HPT methodology.

Intercom

Intercom decided to redesign their organizational structure and build HPTs in 2020. Their goal was to improve team communication, collaboration, and internal processes.

They measure team performance on a quarterly basis, and divide the process into four steps:

  • Measure
  • Act
  • Review
  • Share

Among others, to make sure that their HTP framework genuinely serves performance, they make sure to:

  • Discuss reasons for goals and de-prioritize those which aren’t crucial and can hinder quarterly delivery
  • Run “X in 15 minutes” sessions weekly to make sure each team member has the opportunity to onboard others on various topics
  • Organize workshops where employee-level, personal goals can be shared with others to foster both team and individual growth

GitLab

GitLab’s HPT approach stems from the Drexler-Sibbet model mentioned above. Among others their teams are characterized by a shared desire to grow together (i.e., egos being put into check), provide open feedback, and iterating complex tasks into “digestible” formats.

In their work, GitLab HPTs follow two key stages – creating and sustaining. These are divided into seven steps:

  • Orientation – “why are we here?”
  • Trust building – “who are we?”
  • Goal clarification – “what are we doing?”
  • Commitment – “how will we do it?”
  • Implementation – “who does what, when, where?”
  • High performance – the so-called “WOW” stage
  • Renewal – revisiting the “why” orientation step; “why should we continue?”
Source: GitLab

How to foster a high performing team dynamic in a data-informed way? 

With all of the above in mind, here is how you can approach building your own HPTs.

How to foster a high performing team dynamic in a data-informed way?

#1 Build a data-informed feedback culture.

This requires a blend of two data sources – team-level insights about work habits from a platform like Network Perspective, and survey data measuring employee engagement.

For collaboration data, we recommend looking into the following numbers, among others:

When you combine these metrics with insights from employee surveys (for instance, from OfficeVibe or Culture Amp), you’ll have the data needed for an open communication culture.

#2 Follow the Purpose / Goals / Commitment / Alignment approach.

Make sure that your teams are aligned and committed to a common (team- or organization-level) purpose and that the goals for each are clearly defined. We recommend conducting team check-in and check-outs. It’s an effective method of starting and finalizing projects and processes. While check-in brings everyone on board and nurtures commitment, check-out focuses around closure and after action reviews.

#3 Create psychological safety.

Performance is deeply linked with psychological balance and stability. To make sure that your teams have the conditions needed to thrive, make sure to:

  • Analyze teamwork data to spot any potential psychological and emotional overload, 
  • Run 1-on-1 meetings to offer team leader/managerial support

#4 Give space for performance and new experiments.

Particularly, ensure that team members aren’t overwhelmed with collaboration and have enough time for deep work.

#5 Keep diversity and development high.

Finally, to create truly powerful teams, hire for diversity and a collaborative mindset. With the right people on board, your teams will make the most of peer-to-peer learning and grow both on a team- and individual level.

Final remarks

Successful companies no longer evaluate their teams through the prism of efficiency. As proven by a number of successful companies, including Intercom, GitLab, Boeing, and General Electric, the spotlight should be set on performance, as it better suits today’s organizational structures.

In order to thrive, it’s essential to build High Performance Teams. While there are many various approaches, what characterizes a high performing team is a shared mindset, clear goal setting, a culture of open feedbacking and collaboration, and peer-to-peer learning. 

To get started, it’s worth having access to a ONA platform like Network Perspective, which has been created to help businesses thrive on a team-level. Reach out if you’d like to hear more!

Sources: 

What is Peer to Peer Learning and Why is it Important:

https://tomprof.stanford.edu/posting/418

Hyper Island Toolbox:

https://toolbox.hyperisland.com/check-in-check-out

How to leverage advanced People Analytics with strong ethics upfront?:

https://www.networkperspective.io/post/how-to-leverage-advanced-people-analytics-with-strong-ethics-upfront 

A Short Guide to Effective Daily Standups:

https://getnave.com/blog/short-guide-daily-standups/ 

Building High Performing Teams:

https://about.gitlab.com/handbook/leadership/build-high-performing-teams/ 

How to create a high performance team:

https://www.imd.org/research-knowledge/articles/how-to-create-a-high-performance-team/ 

Building high-performing teams through continuous improvement:

https://www.intercom.com/blog/building-high-performing-teams/ 

Want To Build Excellent Teams? Try This Efficient Model:

https://www.anneloehr.com/2018/04/05/build-excellent-teams-try-efficient-model/ 

21 Collaboration Statistics that Show the Power of Teamwork!:

https://blog.bit.ai/collaboration-statistics/ 

https://sso.shrm.org/IDBUS/SHRM/PORTAL-EE/JOSSO/SSO/REDIR?josso_cmd=login&josso_partnerapp_id=portal-sp 

December 9, 2021

Get started with
Network Perspective now

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.