Principles of High Performing Teams

High performing teams recognize their success depends on how well the team relates with each other and not from one or two members. Great teams do results from a random selection process, nor are they based on personality and "chemistry."

A high performing team requires a strategy. Researchers at MIT identifies found they could identify high performing teams by their communication. After observing many different teams, they noticed a theme in the high performing teams.

The found that great teams had the following characteristics:

  • Members talked and listened in equal amounts of time. No one dominated or hid.
  • There was energy. Eye contact, engagement, sharing demonstrated high levels of energy.
  • The team connected equally with each other and not just the team leader.
  • Members got together outside of the meeting and brought information back to the team.

As a manager, it is important to understand how to support team performance. Rarely will you find a group of people with all the technical skills you need along with the right attitude and a blend of interpersonal skills.

Unfortunately what happens more often than not, teams are formed based on status within the company, convenience, or personal bias.

High Performing Teams Are Energized

If you  are going to achieve your goals, you need a team to get it done.

Characteristics of a Great Team

  1. Complementary skills and experience. The explains the saying: the sum of the whole is greater than its parts. 
  2. You can solve problems in real-time providing an agile and flexible approach to accelerated change and demands.
  3. Teams provide a social dimension to work that can be engaging.
  4. Teams that perform at their best have more fun and are energized.

Test your knowledge below of how to set-up teams for optimal performance.

Take the Quiz:

The correct answer will be revealed and explained when you submit your answers.

1. When pulling teams together, it is best to have people who are like minded.
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Not all groups are teams:

Check out the differences between working groups and teams.

Working Group:

  • Strong, clearly focused leader
  • Individual accountability
  • Purpose is the same as the broader organizational mission
  • Individual work products
  • Runs efficient meetings
  • Measures its effectiveness indirectly by its influence on others (such as financial performance of the business)
  • Discusses, decides, delegates


  • Shared leadership roles
  • Individual and mutual accountability
  • Specific team purpose that the team identifies and delivers
  • Collective work products
  • Encourages open-ended discussion and active problem-solving meetings; while maintaining time constraints and bottlenecks.
  • Measures performance directly by assessing collective work products
  • Discusses, decides, and does real work together

Tips to Improve Team Performance:

  1. Build a support system to complement (compensate for) your weaknesses.
  2. Learn to say, No, as the team, to those things that will not advance your most important work and that drain your energy.
  3. Increase awareness with Strengths assessment, SWOT analysis and set up an Action Plan to get better.
  4. Answer the questions, What energizes your team?, and, What drains their energy?


Evaluate your team. Use this SWOT and work through it identifying your teams's Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.