From more productive meetings to improved team performance, these tips can help

This piece is presented by the executive education program at the USD Beacom School of Business.

Developing high-performing teams is harder than it sounds.

But in today’s fast-changing business world, strong teams are needed more than ever. There are building blocks, tools and skills that will help, and Stephanie McGovern knows them well.

She works with individuals and businesses to unleash the potential within them, improving performance, trust and customer satisfaction. McGovern holds a master’s degree in industrial relations from the University of Minnesota and a coaching certification through the Hudson Institute of Santa Barbara.

McGovern will instruct a course from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 29 at the University Center in Sioux Falls as part of the USD Beacom School of Business executive education program. To learn more about it and register, click here.

We sat down with her to learn more about building high-performing teams.

What are some things you look for to determine if a team is high-performing? And, conversely, what are some signs a team might be underperforming?

A ultimate sign of a high-performing team is that they consistently deliver results beyond what is expected. They can do this because they have an inspiring vision and clear goals. They have mutual trust and respect for each other. They have strong leadership. They are also committed to do what it takes to find innovative ways to add value. In addition, people on high-performing teams also enjoy working with each other and gladly help each other to overcome challenges and barriers.

Underperforming teams struggle to deliver on basic results because they don’t have clear goals, roles or processes. They let simple problems stop them. They focus on issues and barriers rather than solutions.  Team members on underperforming teams are generally more focused on self-interests than the good of the team. Team leaders can do a lot to turn this around with a basic team road map and some simple tools.

Teamwork inevitably leads to meetings. Do you have some meeting tips to encourage high performance?

Here are a few that can make a big difference in meetings:

  1. Identify clear meeting outcomes. In meetings, it is easy to get lost in process and details and forget the end game. Start meetings by stating outcomes and key decisions to be made.
  2. Send an agenda ahead of time. This gives people time to prepare so they are ready with data, analysis and thoughts that add value to the discussion.
  3. Provide context. This gets everyone on the same page. We often assume team members know things they don’t. Provide people with the “why” before addressing what and how.
  4. Stay focused. Track additional issues that surface and schedule another time to address them.
  5. Have a facilitator. It can be the team leader, but it doesn’t need to be. A facilitator’s job is to keep things focused, manage participation and track actions so outcomes are achieved.

Can you give some examples of what the building blocks for a high-performing team look like?

The key team building blocks are:

  1. Purpose – “Why do we exist?”

Purpose gives people a sense of meaning and that what they do matters. Evidence of clear purpose are team, vision, mission and charters.

  1. Direction – “What do we need to accomplish and by when?”

Direction gives people focus and a sense of urgency. Evidence of clear direction are SMART goals, action plans and key measures.

  1. Execution – “How will we work together?”

Execution provides clarity about roles, processes, meeting guidelines, etc. Evidence of strong execution are meeting agendas, roles and responsibilities matrix, communication plans and sharing of best practices.

  1. Connection – “How will we create synergy?”

Connection helps to build trust and collaboration, making it easier to deliver remarkable results. Evidence of strong connection are mutual respect of team members, understanding of each other’s strengths and blind spots, and going the extra mile to help each other.

Who will benefit from your executive education course?

Anyone who wishes to lead a high-performing team. That can include managers, program and project leaders, supervisors, team leaders and individual contributors who would like to prepare for being a team leader.

Once you’ve come up with a plan for improving the performance of your team, what are some important things to keep in mind as you execute it?

  • Lead by example. Model the behaviors you are looking for from others.
  • Involve others.  Make sure everyone has a role in making and sustaining improvements.
  • Create easy ways to give and get feedback. Feedback helps to make quick course corrections.
  • Reinforce progress. It is one of the best ways to build and sustain motivation.

To learn more and register for Developing High Performing Teams, click here.

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From more productive meetings to improved team performance, these tips can help

Developing high-performing teams is harder than it sounds. But in today’s fast-changing business world, strong teams are needed more than ever. Fortunately, there are building blocks, tools and skills that will help.

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