Building A High-Performing Team

Dec 11, 2015 1 Min Read
Stuck in a Stack-Ranked System? How to Encourage Collaboration Anyway

Bell curves bring out the worst in your best. Rewarding individual performance drives individual behaviour. Yet, most performance management systems do just that.

Bell curves, stack ranks, nine-box succession planning grids – they all encourage selfish choices.
Unless you’re running human resources (HR), you can’t change the system, but, you can build great teams within it, leading past the curve to greatness.

Stuck in a Stack-Ranked System? How to Encourage Collaboration Anyway

I’m going to share with you six secrets to building great teams. These are secrets that I have discovered from 20 years of watching, listening, leading, and being a member of great and mediocre teams.

1. Inspire vision that motivates sacrifice

Build excitement around an important vision and make the mission bigger than me or you.

Ensure that everyone feels vital. The mission should be so attractive that everyone feels like they’ve won.

2. Define ‘leading’ in terms of extraordinary behaviours

Expose mediocrity tenaciously and compassionately. Teams rise when mediocrity is courageously rejected and excellence is pursued.

Always honour selfless actions.

It’s also important to establish systems, rules, rewards and consequences. Rise above results to build integrity, loyalty and vulnerability.

3. Reward teamwork

Collaborative behaviour should be rewarded early and often. Focus on creating infrastructure and peer recognition to celebrate “how” or for “what”. You should also begin meetings with informal peer recognition.

4. Create opportunities to cross-train

People remember the years they grew professionally. The memory of a 5% higher bonus will fade, but vital skills will last forever.

Encourage cross-training. You can’t resent a peer who has made you remarkably better.

5. Involve the team in evaluation

This can be done by having employees rate themselves and one another on behaviours.

Then, conduct these assessments several times a year and use it as an appraisal input. It’s tricky, but trust me, it’s worthwhile.

6. Eliminate coasters

Require teamwork as a foundational job requirement. Remember to inspire and teach teamwork.

If a team member refuses, help him find a more fitting job.

This was first published in Let's Grow Leaders

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Tags: Team Leadership


Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders find clarity in uncertainty, drive innovation, and achieve breakthrough results. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick, and the author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers and Customer Advocates.


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