The Secret Ingredient of High Performing Teams


Communication breakdowns are hard on an organization, let alone the affected parties. But high performing teams have two things that work in their favor: their communication breakdowns are infrequent, and there is something else. Something more going on. Synergy.

What makes high performing teams special? What creates the synergy?

It is the Secret Ingredient in their Communication Rhythm.  Can you find it tucked into this outline?

The Communication Rhythm

Most successful organizations follow a similar Communication Rhythm:

A Daily Stand Up to coordinate work, get updates, and transfer information. 15 minutes tops.

Tip:  The Convener must know and moderate what information needs to be shared so that the work can continue to move forward successfully.  Be brief, focused, and keep it moving.

·        Recognize the wins your people had the day before. Celebrating provides momentum!

A Weekly Planning / Problem Solving Meeting to address current and potential issues. 30-60 minutes.

Tip: Ask these 4 questions every week.

Ø  What problems are emerging that you need the thinking of the group to resolve quickly?

Ø  What updates need to be shared so the team moves forward with alignment?

Ø  Do you have enough resources (time, talent, material) to get the work done?

Ø  How are we doing as a team? Do we need to clean up any communication?

A Monthly Team Meeting is a deeper dive into Relationships and Strategy. 60-90 minutes.

Ø  Again, how are we doing as a team? Do we need to clean up any communication?

Ø  Are we on track with our Desired Outcomes?

Ø  Are we spending time on things that matter most?

Ø  What are the obstacles on the horizon, and how do we plan for them?

Ø  Have we had 1:1 time with our Direct Reports this month? Are they aligned and engaged?

Did you spot the hidden Secret Ingredient?

Its People. Recognizing the wins. Checking in weekly and monthly on team dynamics. Accountability about 1:1’s. All of these elements ensure that people are the priority. Success happens when people are engaged, working well together, and accountable and appreciated for their work.

People-Focus is the Secret Ingredient of high performing teams.

Ø  Catching people winning every day.

Ø  Checking in to see how the team is doing. Is there any communication that needs cleaning up?

Ø  Taking the time every month to have a quality one on one with your team members.

Here are some questions to ask in your monthly 1:1:

Ø  Simply asking, “How are you doing?” and really listening to the answer is important.

Ø  What has been the biggest success and the biggest struggle this month?

Ø  What support do you need?

Ø  Are you satisfied with your current scope?

Ø  Is there something new or different you are curious about?

Ø  What can I do differently to better communicate with you?

Ø  What can I do to support your success?

Ø  Do you need a new skill or a new experience to be more engaged and satisfied at work?

Just this week I had a conversation with my colleague. I had assigned a project I thought matched with their professional goals. As I walked out the door, she leaned back and said, “Hey Jennifer, you really should assign this to Diane. She would love it. It is the right thing for her. I know you think I want to do this, but I don’t.”

Sure enough, Diane did want the project. She lit up when I asked her about it. And Erin was relieved to have something that was not a good fit for her reassigned.

It was a good reminder that, even when I think I am paying attention and asking the right questions, I miss the mark. I am glad for that quick, off-the-cuff conversation that allowed me to make a simple change in scope that made everyone happy. When your people know you are interested in their professional dreams and desires, they look for ways to help you get it right.

Put people on your meeting agenda every time. It pays off in spades. Appreciate the work. Check in on conflict, communication, and issues as they arise every week so pressure does not build, and be curious about them. Know their long and short term goals.

Everything gets done through people. They are your biggest asset. Its worth the time you give. I promise.