High Performing Teams

Top 13 Characteristics of High-Performing Teams

Lynsey May Sutherland
Lynsey Sutherland
July 17, 2023
5 min read

A high-performing team sounds exactly like what every organisation wants but it’s not as simple as just hiring top talent and expecting them to thrive – you have to be intentional about how your teams are characterised.  

What is a high-performing team? 

A high-performing team is a group of employees who excel in working together towards a common goal. They are notable for the consistency of their results and the ways that they make use of individual skills as well as the power of a united front. They tend to be found in organisations already committed to high-performance working

How high-performing teams compare

Generally, high-performing teams are happier and more motivated than others. They trust in each other and are able to focus on creativity and innovation, rather than on simply getting the job done. They also tend to be more focused and productive. According to research from McKinsey, executives are five times more productive when they’re working in a high-performing team than they are in an average one.

High Performing Teams

Characteristics of a high-performing team

While an exceptional team tends to be made up of high-performing individuals, there are a few crucial characteristics needed to make a team greater than the sum of its parts. These include: 

1. Trusting

Trust is the foundation for any team. The stronger the feelings of trust both within the team and between team members and leaders, the stronger a team is likely to be. A trusting environment is one where people feel able to take risks, innovate and invest in ideas. 

2. Open to growth 

A willingness to learn and be open to new challenges and opportunities is one of the defining characteristics of a high-performing team. Learning new skills can mean pushing yourself and failing along the way, so any team that’s open to growth is one that’s likely to succeed. 

3. Team-first

If you can create a culture where your employees feel supported and part of a community, you’re much more likely to see them become part of a high-performing team. Communication, collaboration and team spirit are all essential – and that means encouraging individuals to feel like an important part of the whole as you build a high-performance culture

4. Diverse 

A team that’s able to thrive and adapt is one that’s diverse in its makeup. A high-performing team is one that draws on a variety of strengths, perspectives and ideas and that means it’s made up from a lot of different people, personalities and backgrounds. This is just one of the big benefits of having a diverse and inclusive workplace

5. Clear

No team can thrive when people are talking at cross-purposes. Clear communication is essential when you want to build a high-performing team, it saves a tonne of time, reduces the potential for hurt feelings and misunderstandings and saves you from the other problems caused by poor communication in the workplace

6. Effective 

If there’s one thing that’s sure to hold potentially great teams back, it’s inefficient and outdated processes. Being buried under paperwork or pulled back into the same tedious routines over and over again can sap energy and enthusiasm, stopping teams from performing at their peak. 

7. Experimental 

Along the same lines, there’s also great benefit to encouraging an experimental mindset. This doesn’t mean making changes for no good reason, but it does mean being open to trying new things and finding out whether they’re worth implementing for your team and your business. 

8. Purpose-led

To have a high-performing team, rather than a series of individuals capable of high-performance, you need to have clear shared goals and a purpose. These can, and should, change with time, but they always need to be considered shared and consolidated through frequent check ins and communications. 

9. Coherent 

It’s easier for a team to perform well when everyone is on a similar page when it comes to values. When your team values are aligned with the core values of your businesses and you’re taking everyone’s personal values into consideration too, people are much more inclined to pull together and exceed expectations. 

10. Connected

Whether it’s online or in-person, opportunities to connect one on one as well as part of the greater team make a huge difference. Alex Pentland, writing for the Harvard Business Review, found that 35% of the variation in a team’s performance could be accounted for by the number of face-to-face exchanges among team members.

11. Measured

It’s much easier to see what processes or projects are making a difference when you know how to measure the outcomes. A high-performing team is often both dynamic and agile, but that doesn’t mean you should skip out on keeping track of the data. Clear outcomes can be a huge motivator, so it’s very important to track them. 

12. Collaborative 

Knowing when and how to share tasks with the rest of the team is a key skill and one that can pay dividends. A survey from TeamStage found that 75% of staff say teamwork and collaboration are crucial to corporate success, so the more frequently you can encourage working together and sharing both problems and success, the better. 

13. Appreciated

For a team to stay engaged, excited and performing to the peak of its abilities, it has to know that it’s appreciated. A rewards and recognition platform that frequently celebrates successes of all shapes and sizes can play a crucial role in the development of high-performing teams. 

Ready to try and master the habits of a high-performing team? It’s likely to take a fairly hefty investment, but the results are more than worth it. 

Find out more about Mo!

Transform your culture with Mo

Recruitment Collaboration
Book a free demo to learn how Mo can help you:
  • Improve employee engagement scores
  • Reduce employee churn
  • Build a collaborative culture
Book your free demo

Mo is a new kind of reward and recognition platform that makes it easy for busy managers to meaningfully recognise, engage and connect with their teams.

We equip managers with weekly suggestions to energise and connect with their people, help teams build habits of recognition into their day-to-day rhythms and go beyond simple rewards as a way to motivate staff.

Join companies like SHL, OVO Energy and William Hill in delivering meaningful improvement on engagement results with Mo. Book a free demo today!

Join our Community

Sign up to our monthly newsletter for industry insights, employee recognition tips, and news from the world of workplace digital transformation ⚡️