Building Highly Effective Teams


A consistent challenge stated by Chief Operating Officers (COOs) is their continuous endeavour to ensure that all of their managers, supervisors and crews are aligned to common goals. Moreover, do they to have the capability and tools to achieve the objectives? Indeed, this leadership group often tells us that many of their people fail to deliver the expected ‘results through teams’ as they are not performing at the required level. Read on or download the whitepaper . High_Performance_Teams.jpg


Building Highly Effective Teams is way beyond an annual trip to the jungle and playing ‘Survivor’ with your work colleagues. Highly Effective Teams (sometimes referred to as high-performance teams or even best practice teams) have 8 equally important characteristics and any weakness in any of these will erode your chances of implementing the strategy and achieving the business goals. Being a Highly Effective Team is relevant for any work group with a common purpose, be that the senior leadership group, a project team, an operational/functional team, service or support team. It is also one of the key productivity improvement factors.

What is the difference between a group and a team?

  • A group is two or more individuals who share common interests or characteristics and whose members identify with each other.
  • A team goes further in that there is a stated purpose, there is a division of tasks, there is inter-dependence among members, there is structure and there is familiarity among members.

You may already be thinking of teams that you know or that you manage now that are highly effective and always achieve their goals. In your mind you may be comparing them to teams you know that struggle to hit their objectives. Why is that? Is it the team leader? Is it because the successful team gets all of the attention from the boss? Is it because one team gets all the resources? The answer is yes to all these questions, plus there is much more.

Characteristics of Effective Teams: All 8 characteristics need to consistently ‘score’ highly:

  • Situation and Context – Do all members know the reason for the team to exist and the relativity of team objectives?
  • Mission – Are all objectives stated and are the outcomes clear to all?
  • Staff and Skills – How many staff, what skills, experience and knowledge mix are required?
  • Systems and Processes – What formal and informal methods and tools is the team using for planning, executing, expediting and reviewing tasks and mission attainment?
  • Ownership – Do team members understand and accept the mission and do they desire to work with team members to achieve the results?
  • Firepower – Does the team have effective leadership, adequate resources, capital and support from senior managers?
  • Morale – This is usually a function of the other characteristics. Does the team have a high level of cohesion and the ability to deal with interpersonal conflict? If not, morale will be low and impact counterproductively.
  • Results – Is the team accomplishing its mission objectives? This is the measure of the team’s attainment of goals and progress and ultimately the contribution to the organisation’s achievement of its business and operational plans.


I recall a good example where a project team was not attaining their objectives. The business improvement team then applied this model, firstly as a diagnostic and then to implement improvements. The project team was a combination of managers, supervisors and consultants and the objective was to implement a maintenance and operations management system and to attain sustainable improvements in effective equipment utilisation. Halfway into the project, it was apparent that progress was not as planned. The diagnostic of the team revealed that although the COO had commissioned the project, he was not showing ongoing support. Furthermore, the functional director was also passive in support, even though she was the chairperson for the team. The team leader was experienced and capable but had been borrowed from another division and so had no ownership of the outcomes. The team members were capable and dedicated, but they often struggled to see how they were ever going to make a difference to the overall effective utilisation of their plant and equipment.

You can probably figure it out for yourself where the negative impact on team performance was coming from. The analysis revealed that situation and context, systems and processes, firepower and results all ‘scored’ significantly low and were identified as the root causes. The project team made a number of adjustments and before too long, the team became highly effective and achieved their objectives consistently. Imagine if they had applied the model right from the start. Or worse, imagine if they had gone through the entire project without making any adjustments!

If you would like to read more about leading effective teams including more real life examples, follow the link below to download the whitepaper for free.