Have you ever wondered why some
teams outperform others? They
attain better business results by cooperating and coordinating in ways that
normal teams do not. They consciously try
to do more and do it better. There is nothing magical about it.

“The importance of building high-performance teams continues to grow,” says
Bob Preziosi, a professor of management
in the Huizenga School of Business and
Entrepreneurship at Nova Southeastern
University. “One study stated that four out
of five employees report working as a team
member at some time during the day.
Competitive pressures and the drive for
greater efficiency mean teams must perform at higher levels. Thus, high-performance teams — not just teams — become a
key to success.”

Top executives make sure that team
training is ongoing by providing regular
feedback and encouragement and by celebrating teams that produce results.

Smart Business talked to Preziosi about
establishing and maintaining high-performance teams.

What actions distinguish high-performance
teams from others?

  • Interactive goals. Everyone on the
    team offers suggestions about what the
    goals should be. The team responds quickly when a new situation requires it to
    change goals.

  • Resource optimizing. People pitch in
    to help others when a backlog occurs.
    They all know how to do more with less.
    They get the most out of every resource —
    people, technology, finances and physical

  • Conflict management. Conflict is
    accepted. The source is identified, and people deal with it. Team members know their
    own conflict management style.

  • Interactive leadership. The leadership
    role in team activities is handled through
    expertise, not by position on the organizational chart. People share common values.

  • Activity control. Everyone understands the total task, as well as the results
    that are expected. Everyone has a sense of
    what every other person must do and how
    all activities are sequentially linked.

  • Feedback mechanisms. All team members are skilled at constructive criticism,
    encouragement and positive reinforcement. They also tell people outside the
    team how well the team is doing.

  • Decision-style flexibility. Team members believe that every decision-making situation is different. They know that there
    are different styles to use based upon the
    levels of urgency and commitment

  • Mutual assistance. This is the most
    important action. It is also the easiest to
    accomplish. Team members are willing to
    shift their activity to help anyone else on
    the team at any time get something done.
    Everyone wants to see everyone succeed.

  • Experimentation. All team members
    are comfortable with trying new things.
    They are willing to use their creativity skills
    for the betterment of team outcomes.

  • Team accountability. The team knows
    what its accountabilities are and the members hold themselves to the standards.
    They are fully informed of all aspects of
    their performance without relying on outside information. They are equally proud of
    individual and total team accomplishments.

  • Performance influence. This refers to
    the belief that all team members are
    respectful of everyone’s skill, while at the
    same time it is acceptable to provide suggestions for feedback. This is done regardless of formal stature or role in the team or
    organization. Everyone is willing to
    improve their performance.

Why do high-performance teams work so

Constant and consistent actions such as
these lead to greater job satisfaction for
people who work together to make their
team results well beyond what is expected.
They continuously outproduce other
teams because of the excitement that these
actions generate. Why would anyone want
it any other way?

Is there such a thing as teamwork for team-work’s sake?

Teamwork is never a substitute for individual contributions. Many tasks only
require the efforts of one person.

We don’t engage in team activity just
because we believe in the concept of collaborative action. We work in a team
when the task requires multiple contributors, each of whom brings something
unique to the business results being

BOB PREZIOSI is a professor of management in the Huizenga
School of Business and Entrepreneurship at NSU. He has been
delivering leadership training and education for more than 30
years. Reach him at [email protected] or through the
school’s Web site,