We all want our teams to be performing at their best and delivering value quickly and effectively. But even high performing teams can wane when the conditions aren’t right. Sometimes no matter how much you motivate, encourage or give good direction, things still feel like they’re stalling.
This can be a sign that the conditions aren’t right. While you might not have control over external or environmental conditions (physical space, industry changes, organisational turbulence etc) you can influence the conditions that your team is emotionally performing in.
These are the minimum head-space conditions needed for high performing teams to grow and thrive.
Everyone is clear and invested
Invest in regular planning days with a strong facilitator ideally from another team or someone external. Giving everyone a chance to build and iterate the product plan is the fastest way to make them a part of your bigger thinking and accelerate delivery.
Having clarity means that the team really understands ‘the why’ of what you’re trying to achieve. This means they understand the outcome you’re expecting and have been given space to process their interpretation of the plan. Doing this gives each team member a deeper understanding of their own personal role in executing the product’s vision.
Trust is felt
Trust takes time to build so don’t rush it. If you are a new leader to a team, lead authentically and consistently and communicate transparently. Show the team you trust others around you; your boss, your peers and other teams and be open in the way your communicate with everyone.
Teams who know they are trusted make great decisions and move a lot faster than those who are constantly looking over their shoulders. Empower your team to make smaller decisions regularly and make it clear when they need to consult wider (and when they don’t). Show them that you’ve got their back during difficult times, and protect them from any white noise or disruptions that might be occurring around them.
Working openly and collaborating
Create a dedicated space where team members can sit together to brainstorm and chat. Work should be visible on the walls and make sure there’s a video screen right in the centre so remote team members can be included.
Even if the team is spread across different locations, the group vibe needs to feel the same — as if everyone was sharing the same room. Encourage your team to think creatively, and be balanced in acknowledging everyone’s ideas. Not all of these will work out of course but when they don’t, make sure everyone understands that failure is a great opportunity to learn.
When the conditions are right, anything is possible
Creating healthy and high performing teams isn’t just about finding good people with the right skills. It’s actually about empowering a group of people to take charge of the outcome they are part of creating.
Good teams need a combination of the right emotional conditions plus good direction from leaders who can offer the right support at the right time, and feel mentally ready to let their teams lead. So how might you create a team of leaders, who are empowered to perform at their best and want to deliver value quickly to the users.
Like a veggie garden that continually generates new produce, it’s all about the conditions that sustain us. In the right environment, anything is possible.