Maximizing your team’s performance

by | Jun 26, 2009 | Sales Culture

What is it that makes a world class team? Whether it’s a sales team, an IT project team or a football team, there are common elements that are present in teams that achieve the highest level of performance. This month I’d like to share three of these key elements that help create a world class team: attitude, trust, and respect.

The first must-have element is “attitude”. A great attitude is contagious to everyone else on the team. A positive attitude always visualizes a positive outcome. Positive attitudes create optimism, energy and enthusiasm. Others want to join in on the excitement and fun created by a team that works together.

Will the outcome of an event be positive or negative? Our attitude impacts our perceptions and views which will impact our emotions, which in turn, drive our behavior. “…the powers of attention, reflection, reasoning, insight, etc., and all these complex factors which form man’s frame of mind and character, such as strength of will, weakness or obstinacy, irascibility or calmness, likes and dislikes, prejudices, and so on, are due largely to habits intentionally or unintentionally contracted.” [New Advent Encyclopedia] Simply, “attitude” is the outward reflection of our internal habit of thought. We all can make a choice as to how we view a situation. If we think the outcome will be negative it probably will be – our behavior is indicative of our attitude. No one wants to be around someone who is always negative. It’s draining to everyone on the team, impacting both performance and productivity. I’ll take someone with good attitude over natural aptitude any day of the week.

The second must-have element is “trust.” In his book “The Speed of Trust”, Stephen M.R. Covey explains that TRUST = CHARACTER + CAPABILITY. If either element is missing there will be a lack of trust. You might have “character” but if you can’t perform your job, you can’t be trusted to live up to the team’s expectations. You need “character,” to have people believe your “capability” is legitimate? Would your team? Your customer? Every team member must have both character and capability to gain trust.

If team members can’t trust each other the team is doomed. Without trust, people will fear being open and honest, and consequently, performance will plummet. When distrust arises, team members will stop being open and honest in their communication with each other. People will constantly doubt the other team member’s intents and motives. Eventually, the team members behave selfishly serving their individual needs. You can see this clearly when team members on a basketball team have conflict. Each one looks after their own needs and is self serving. A basketball team of five great individuals will never win in the long run playing as five independent players looking for their own glory. Teams must trust each other and put the good of the team first. That’s what creates synergy where one plus one is greater than two.

Finally, the third must-have element is respect, specifically “valuing and leveraging the strengths each member brings to the team.” Naturally, we want to spend time on what comes natural and easy to us; this is where we maximize our performance – to the betterment of the team. We are more likely to succeed on tasks that are aligned with our talents. Focusing on talents promotes success and leads back to good attitudes.

We are much better off focusing on someone’s strengths rather than trying to correct their weakness. Forcing someone to improve a deficient skill dilutes the application of a natural strength depriving the team of their skills, time and energy – otherwise applied where they can impact the organization the most. Better to augment the team with someone with the missing skill.

This is where understanding personality styles will play a huge role. A team comprised of all four personality styles is better off than a team of just one or two personality styles. We need to tap the strengths that come natural to each of the personalities. Then your team will function both efficiently and effectively.

Let’s review the strengths that each personality style brings to the team.

– Provide creativity
– Strong communicators
– Encourage open and honest discussion
– Able to unite team members

– Expert skills
– Logical approach
– Attention to details
– Visionary, out-of-the-box thinking

– Organized, structured, and thorough
– Consistently hold to deadlines
– Visualize and understand benefits
– Focus on goal-directed process

– Energize the team
– Action oriented
– Results driven
– Motivate team members

Focus on the strengths that each personality brings to the team and you’ll see a team working like the symphonic orchestra all in unison.