How High-Performing Teams Get Work Done

Jan 17, 2019
Post Masthead

Businesses today have one primary goal: GSD (Get Sht Done)*.

In a fast-paced, highly competitive world, businesses and project teams are trying to do more with less. Although this seems counter-intuitive, it is entirely possible.

High-performing teams are all about being efficient. They have figured out how to work more efficiently together all while boosting productivity and keeping resource costs as low as possible.

In this article, we'll study how high-performing teams get work done, and offer some tips on how their ways can work for you.

Project Management + Project Teams = High Performance

While project management can’t solve all the problems that can potentially arise, applying best project management practices can help projects move smoothly and efficiently.

In fact, according to the PMI, organizations using these techniques like these “enjoy more successful business outcomes, [and] waste nearly 28 times less money due to poor project performance.”

Furthermore, organizations that adopt and follow project management methodologies and practices are in a better position to stay on schedule and adhere to project scope.

But of course, project management is only one half of the project pie.

The other half is the project team.

Any great project or workflow happens because of an amazing, high-performing team.

There’s many ways to build a great team — you can focus on culture fit, expertise, seniority, or horizontal or vertical specializations.

But once you build the dream-team, how do you get them to actually perform together?

Our goal is to be like a conductor, effortlessly guiding her orchestra to execute a beautifully interpreted symphony.

Let’s dig in to how.

How to Build a High-Performing Team

Here are some ways that teams can work together to ensure top project performance, and some important pitfalls to avoid.

1. Silos Are for Farms, Not Teams.

Many organizations and project teams make the mistake of working in individual silos and failing to share project-related information with other core team members or departments.

Top-performing teams meet—either face-to-face or virtually—at least once per week to share what they are working on. This is also an opportunity to brainstorm and problem-solve as a team and reach conclusions that are aligned with other projects and even organizational goals.

2. Encouraging Thought.

Nothing hinders creativity more than when you’re sitting in the middle of a brainstorming meeting and the project leader or facilitator responds to your idea with something to the effect of, “That’s one idea…”

Solid project teams and leaders encourage diverse, creative thoughts. Project team members who feel like they can share their thoughts and ideas will feel like they add value to the project and organization, and will be more productive.

3. Managing Expectations.

This is a huge one. Many project leaders fail to manage expectations or clearly communicate roles, responsibilities, and project goals, which always results in conflict, confusion, and utter disaster. Many project team members and leaders make the inaccurate assumption that everyone understands what they should be working on.

High-performing teams ensure that everyone is on the same page in terms of priorities, timelines, defined approaches, and deliverables.

4. Practice Good Communication.

This correlates with managing expectations. Not only does good communication across project team members and cross-functional departments ensure that everyone is working towards the same goals, but it also helps project team members ensure that the right people get the right messages at the right time to drive the project to success.

5. Build Deep Team Relationships.

If you were to ask anyone what they love most about their job , in most cases, their response will be: “the people I work with.” Teams that form deep relationships function more efficiently and are far more productive. However, this doesn’t happen overnight; it can take some time for teams to reach the Norming and Performing phases of team development before they are truly productive.

Some ways that you can encourage team relationship-building and development is through ice-breaker sessions, offsite team planning meetings, getting together for weekly or monthly “Happy Hour,” and other team-building activities.

Find out what works best for your team, and run with it. The overall goal is to help create a collaborative atmosphere and craft a team that becomes a problem-solving machine.

6. Work in “Sprints.”

A sprint is an iterative and agile project management technique that encourages team collaboration, problem-solving, and productivity.

Managing “sprints” include assigning team members their individual tasks, and giving them typically two weeks to work on and complete them.

For example, depending on the type of project your team is working on, your team can include a designer, a developer, a marketing expert, a customer service expert, a financial expert, and so on.

You can even work in sprints on a visual workflow or kanban board. Many people lovingly call it "scrumban".

The ideal team size for an effective sprint is seven. This doesn’t mean that sprints can’t involve more than seven people. If your team has more than seven people, then you may need to allocate more time to your sprint session (i.e. 30 days instead of 14).

7. Use Project Automation.

You have a project, a project management technique, a team, and a communication plan.

Now, we need project automation. If you are using a project management tool to manage your projects or “sprints” (even if you are using a giant whiteboard), then we are willing to bet that you are in need of a little automation.

Automation simply puts those repetitive, time-consuming tasks on autopilot, which allows your core team members and experts to focus on solving problems. And, no, you don’t have to be a developer or programmer to set up automation.

The good news is that most project management tools today have built-in automation capabilities as well as external application integrations. Use these capabilities to your advantage.

One of the most important takeaways is that automation itself doesn’t provide value; rather, it amplifies existing value, and value must be found in the very soul of every project.

8. Conduct Periodic Performance Reviews.

We may have created a pretty picture of how a project team should function and work together, and in a perfect world, every team would work this way. But what about when you need to provide critical feedback to your team?

That's why you'll need to periodic performance reviews of the team as a whole.

  • How is the team performing together?
  • Are there a few team members that are “star players”?
  • Are there a few slackers?

It’s important to encourage group as well as individual member input. Project team leaders can do this by asking for feedback, encouraging diverse thought, listening to ideas and opinions, and helping team members see where they provide value.

In some cases, being a project team leader means focusing on individual needs, respecting individual learning and working styles, and practicing active listening when addressing a team member’s underperformance.

Support Your High-Performing Team with a Project Management Tool

As you can see, there is a lot more that goes into building a top-performing team than just sitting down and getting to work. A high-performing team doesn’t just come together naturally; it requires strategic thinking, planning, building, and time.

If you have the team, then you need a project management tool that helps you work easily and more efficiently. Rindle is easy to adopt, implement, and learn, and is also designed with automation capabilities to fully support your team.

Give Rindle a try today.