Team Performance

Team Performance


Lucky are those who have been part of a successful team. They have given their best, they have bonded with their team and they are proud of their achievements.

What does it take as a manager to create and develop a successful team? This is a vast and fascinating topic. To help you in your quest, this section will first help you become aware of the characteristics of a high-performing team - by clarifying your purpose. It will then guide you towards actions and attitudes you can adopt to create and develop a high-performance team.

1. The characteristics of a successful team

1.1 What is a team?

According to ORSC (Organization and Relationships Systems Coaching), a team is a system. A system "consists of a set of interdependent elements or actors with a common purpose or identity."


  • Common purpose: in the case of a company, the actors are part of a team to achieve certain business objectives.
  • Common identity: members belong to the system/team and may feel different levels of belonging to it.
  • Interdependence: members need each other to achieve their team goal. This makes the team necessary.

1.2 What is a high-performance team?

According to John Whitmore and Performance Consultants, such a team has the following characteristics: "High awareness and responsibility for self and others. There is a strong culture of coaching. Teams have a strong sense of ownership of high performance and believe that it can only be achieved by the group. People engage with others to understand different points of view and demonstrate high levels of trust, caring and collaboration. There is genuine and continuous communication and feedback. This creates a "collective potential mentality."

The "performance curve" below compares different organisational cultures to the overall level of team performance.


2. Levers for building and developing a successful team

2.1 Define your team's purpose and vision

Helping your team members understand why they are working together (purpose) and what long-term success looks like (vision) goes a long way towards increasing their level of motivation and commitment.

In his famous Ted talk, Simon Sinek described the positive impact of getting people to buy into the "why" of a business.

Research has shown that companies with a clearly stated purpose, in which employees believe, outperform their stock market peers by 7.6% each year.

2.2 Define your desired culture

Your team's culture is the "beliefs and behaviours that determine how employees and management of a company interact and manage external business transactions". Having a strong and supportive culture leads to high performance.

An analysis of stock performance showed that the best companies to work for in the US outperformed their benchmark by about 2.5 times over a 20-year period. By clarifying team values and setting clear expectations for team members' attitudes and behaviours, managers can have a profound influence on their team's culture.

2.3 Hire the right people by focusing on attitude

When recruiting, pay particular attention to attitude and behaviour.  When done well, recruitment is an opportunity to make your team more successful.  To do this, focus on attitude at least as much as skills.  Research shows that 46% of new hires fail within the first 18 months (performance problems, termination of employment or departure of new hires). In 89% of these failures, managers cited attitudinal reasons, and in 11% of cases, competency reasons.

2.4 The different stages of a team

Bruce Tuckman established the Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing model. He showed that any new team must go through all the stages to achieve high performance.

  • FORMING: people ask themselves what the purpose of the team is, how they fit in and how they will work with others.
  • TENSION: people try to establish their own way of working in the team. This can lead to conflict or tension.
  • NORMALISATION: team members are now aware of each other's strengths and preferred ways of working and communicating.
  • EXECUTION: the team is on the move and has reached its potential.

Some teams never get past the second stage.

2.5 Integrating a coaching approach into your management style

The "command and control" management style, which was useful during the second industrial revolution, is no longer relevant in today's VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world. Teams and companies need a new management style to be successful. We call it the Manager-Coach posture. The Manager-Coach has the following characteristics:

  • Attitude: open-mindedness, curiosity, flexibility. He/she focuses on the abilities and potential of the team members.
  • Skills: being fully present, listening with empathy and asking open questions.
  • Approach: use an alliance to establish the team culture, use the GROW model, empower team members and provide feedback.

2.6 Create an environment where members feel safe to show themselves as they are, to discuss team problems and to learn from their failures.


As part of Project Aristotle, Google conducted an in-depth study of 180 teams to determine the most important factors in team effectiveness. Psychological safety came out as the most important factor.

The definition is: "each team member can take the risk of giving his or her opinion, making mistakes, without being judged by colleagues or management, and without negative consequences for the team member in the company". In a team where psychological safety is high, teammates feel safe to take risks alongside their team members. They feel confident that no one in the team will embarrass or punish someone else for admitting a mistake, asking a question or proposing a new idea.


In "The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team", Patrick Lencioni's research has shown that trust is the foundation of successful teams. It enables debate, then commitment, responsibility and finally results. Psychological safety creates trust.


Relationships can fall prey to 4 types of toxic behaviour:

  • Criticism and blame
  • Defensiveness
  • Contempt
  • Denigration

There are antidotes to these toxic behaviours. If you are the victim of toxic behaviour, we invite you to react by using ANTIDOTES instead of reacting counterproductively, with another toxic behaviour.