How to Build High-Performance Teams

Much of your Lean transformation will be driven by employee engagement and teams.  Value Stream Mapping teams.  Rapid Improvement teams.  TPM teams.  6S teams.  Safety teams.  Problem-solving teams. People working closely together on teams to make a positive change within your business.  Here are tips to build high-performance teams.


1.  Provide clarity and measurements for the team

For a team to perform at a high level, everyone on the team needs to know what they are there to accomplish.  Think about teams that win championships.  They don’t set out at the beginning of the year to be .500. They set out with the clarity to win the championship.

These teams measure metrics along the way and make changes based upon what the metrics tell them.  Success starts with a team and a project charter.  Be very clear on what success looks like for the team from day one.  Make sure everyone on the team knows the metrics they are being measured against.  Employees like to know what the score is and where they stand.  Provide them with that information.

2.  Identify the top five skills that will lead to success

What are the five critical skills you need on the team to win?  Establishing teams that are entirely homogenous will not produce enough tension amongst the team to push each other.

If you are undertaking a software coding project do you think everyone on the team needs to be a coder?  Someone needs to manage deliverables.  Someone else needs to communicate between the coders and the end-user.  Make a list of the top skills required to build high-performance teams.

3.  Look for team members that are humble, hungry and smart

Team dynamics will drive whether the team is successful.  Realize that every team will go through the four stages of forming, storming, norming, and performing.  Choosing team members with high emotional intelligence and a servant leader mindset will enable the group to move through these four stages quickly.

If possible, have employees on the team you have identified as high potential employees and gauge how well they work with others.  This is a great avenue for testing their people skills.  They might be hungry but they also need to fit the culture and work toward the greater good of the organization.

Finally, if you want to build a high-performance team, you’ll need some high-performance people on it.  Make sure they are smart in the areas you are trying to impact, not just book smart.

4.  Establish the participation period

Some teams will come together for a specific purpose like a Rapid Improvement Event and then disband.  Other teams will meet regularly to support more global business activities like safety, 6S, and TPM.

If the teams are taking on the global business activities, set a roll-off time frame for team members.  Maybe everyone takes part for a minimum of nine months. Then you replace one team member each quarter after that.

Establish the rules upfront so that everyone knows the expectations and keeps their energy and excitement high when taking part.  Having worked with hundreds of teams, I know that if you follow these suggestions, you will build high-performance teams and your improvement will soar!

As always, it’s an honor to serve you and I hope this helps you and your organization get a little bit better today.

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