High-performing teams seem to generate their own energy and enable everyone on the team to unlock their full potential. A clear example that comes to my mind is the German national football team performing at the last World Cup.

What does it take to get there?

Play your strength and allocate clear roles and responsibilities ©Getty Images / Patrik Stollarz

Team building takes time and teams often go through recognizable stages as they develop from being a group of strangers to becoming a unit with common goals. Tuckman’s team development model describes these stages as Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing.  When you understand this model, you will be able to guide your team to reach high performance. Here at the adidas Group we have developed a learning kit for this. So let me share with you some insights that could make the difference between a good team and an excellent performing team.

1. IDEAS INSTEAD OF HIERARCHIES

In one of his interviews, Steve Jobs said: “If you want to hire great people and have them stay working for you, you have to let them make a lot of decisions and you have to be run by ideas, not hierarchies. The best ideas have to win. Otherwise good people don’t stay.”

2. TIME AND DEDICATION

It takes time and dedication from all parties involved. On top of the work that you have to get through every day, you need to take some time out and dedicate it to the team.

3. RULES OF THE GAMES

First, as for any game you need some kind of rules that outline guiding principles for teams. Teams at work are no different. Second, take the time to clarify the rules of the game outside of the team. How are things working, what are the processes that need to be followed, what is the most efficient way to follow them? This will save the team a lot of time and energy in the future.

In a successful team all members are continuously communicating with each other ©Getty Images / Patrik Stollarz

4. HAVE A COMMON GOAL

It seems pretty logical, right? However you would be surprised how many teams get together and never discuss or are not clear about their common goal. So take the time as a team to define what you want to achieve together.

5. PLAY YOUR STRENGTH

Let’s imagine for a moment that Lionel Messi would be forced to play as a goalkeeper. I am sure that most of you would ask the same question: “Why are you doing this? It doesn’t make any sense”. So why would you do so in your team? Make sure to take the time to find out your team members’ strengths and allocate clear roles and responsibilities. A role that doesn’t fit personal strong points might easily lead to frustration and disengagement.

6. KEEP COMMUNICATING

A lack of communication creates stress and inefficiency. If you look at successful sports teams, all team members are continuously communicating with each other – verbally or with body language. It should be the same at work. The more you know about what needs to be done, the more you will achieve a better understanding and transparency regarding the whole team process.

7. CELEBRATE

Celebrating success as a team can be even more rewarding than a monetary bonus ©Getty Images / Matthias Hangst

What is a victory without celebration? Companies tend to think that a cash bonus is the best reward to acknowledge the success of an employee. However, according to McKinsey, celebrating success as a team can be more rewarding than a monetary bonus. A genuine “thank you” can also leave a lasting impression. So a good way to start celebrating success in your team could be to start all your team meetings with a simple “thank you”.

So what do you think makes the best out of a team and helps to unlock their full potential?

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by Thomas 19.02.2015
Great article! Thanks for the tips! I am gonna bring them to our next team meeting.
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by Caroline T. 20.02.2015
Very simple and sensible. I agree common goals are the most important element in a high performance team. It is very important that the whole team is working on the same direction to the same why.
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by John Bangkok 26.02.2015
I agree with the Steve Jobs words, good people need freedom of thinking, then great ideas would be created.
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by Poova 10.09.2015
A common vision with a dose of passion.
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by Jani Vahčič 24.01.2016
Hi
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by chris 02.03.2017
Lame article.
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by matthew ogden 18.03.2017
I disagree with number 1. Steve Jobs was a great man but for me a strong leader is needed in any team(steve jobs), but below the leaders needs to be a group of people who respect the leader but are confident enough to relay ideas and thoughts to the leader for him/her to decide whats best for the team. so hierachy is more important than ideas but ideas are needed within a hierachy for it to work.
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Nina Weihrauch
Nina Weihrauch | Editor matthew ogden 21.03.2017
Hi Matthew,

thanks for your comment.
I agree with you that leadership theories can be interpreted very differently and there are also different kinds of leadership styles that work for teams.
In regards to your topic, I recommend you reading my interview with sport psychologist Prof. Dr. Markus Raab on leadership: https://www.gameplan-a.com/2016/09/why-being-a-team-captain-in-business-is-not-a-matter-of-age/.
In a nutshell he says that "a leader is essential in a performance-based environment as someone has to make a call in the end".

I'd love to hear from you if you like the interview.

Best,

Nina
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