Unveiling the Secrets: What Elevates Teams to High Performance

Soundarya Mahalakshmi

Last Updated: December 14, 2023
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project managing as a team

We’ve all heard that effective cooperation is essential for — well, everything. And, if a company wants to thrive in its field, it must establish high-performing teams devoted to accomplishing greater goals. But in a world where working methods are always evolving, how can firms assist such teams while ensuring consistent top-of-the-class business results? 

Fortunately, insight on what distinguishes high-performing teams has found some qualities that successful teams share. In this post, we’ll look at the elements that make high-performing teams so effective, regardless of the problems they confront.

High performing teams are groups within a company that produce above-average outcomes, often as a consequence of a clear focus on their goals and specialisations. A high performing team varies from one firm to the next and from one industry to the next, but they have certain similar qualities (apart from consistently above-average performance). So, what distinguishes a high-performing team from other teams in their organisation? To begin, they recognise the three psychological demands that motivate goal-oriented conduct. High-performing teams are  goal-oriented by nature. According to research, firms must address their workers’ needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness in order for them to feel happy, driven, and productive. So let’s explore these aspects in this blog!


Autonomy is a vital psychological need for highly-motivated individuals. It means giving employees the freedom to act on their own without requiring constant supervision or approval from their managers. It allows individuals to manage their own time and schedule, according to their preferences and priorities. This can increase their productivity, satisfaction, and work-life balance. When companies adopt a more hands-off approach and trust their employees to make decisions, they create an environment that fosters creativity and innovation. This allows individuals to think outside the box and come up with unique solutions to problems. It also encourages open communication and collaboration, leading to stronger team dynamics and higher performance levels.

When employees are given autonomy and freedom to make decisions, they feel a sense of ownership and responsibility for their work. This boosts their self-confidence and motivates them to take initiative and go above and beyond in their roles. Additionally, when individuals are trusted to make decisions, they have the opportunity to learn and grow. They can take on new challenges and develop new skills, which not only benefits them personally but also adds value to the company. This, in turn, increases employee retention and reduces turnover rates.

Giving individuals the freedom to make decisions and take ownership of their work has numerous benefits for both the employees and the company as a whole. It promotes creativity, enhances performance, and fosters a positive work culture. On the other hand, micromanagement can stifle innovation, damage morale, and limit growth opportunities. Therefore, it is crucial for companies to empower their employees and trust in their abilities. Therefore, it is important for managers to trust their employees and give them autonomy, while still providing them with clear expectations, feedback, and support. This can help create a high-performing team that is motivated, engaged, and innovative.

Case study: How Buffer created autonomy in the workplace: Buffer, a leading social media scheduling company in the UK, had a goal of expanding its team without compromising its autonomy. As a team grows, some employees might feel like they have less impact, and Buffer wanted to avoid that by keeping its core value of autonomy in the workplace.

This resulted in what Buffer called empowered accountability.

“Our team members should rely on their expertise when making decisions and providing support,” Åsa Nyström, VP of Customer Advocacy, says. “We want to eliminate doubt about decision-making and to empower our team to serve our customers the best we can.”

Competence And Relatedness

A person addressing a group of people, possibly giving a presentation or speech.

One way to foster a positive work culture is to help people feel competent in their roles, as well as offering support. These two can be done by giving regular feedback, acknowledging achievements and challenging employees with new tasks. Some specific strategies are:

Expressing appreciation: whenever someone does a great job, show them your gratitude – and make it public if possible. Whenever someone makes progress, tell them you have seen their improvement; they don’t want to feel ignored.

Offering learning opportunities: to keep people motivated and productive, they need to face new challenges. Help them develop or acquire new skills through training, guidance, and chances to lead or mentor others. Promote a culture of learning within your team.

Creating a learning environment: make sure employees have the opportunity to experiment, test ideas and explore without fear or criticism. They need to have the space to be creative and learn on their own. This can greatly enhance their competence.

One of the key factors for work engagement is relatedness, or the feeling of being connected to others. As social beings, we need to have strong and positive relationships with our co-workers, which can boost our wellbeing and collaboration. Being part of a group makes people happy. and happy team members are more engaged. 

Have a safe environment to take risks: psychological safety at work is essential. We need to be able to admit our mistakes and not fear being punished or shamed. Mistakes are an opportunity for collective learning! 

Have a voice to express their opinions: while social events and team building activities are fun, effective work relationships are based on substance. Be a supportive leader by providing regular feedback and encouraging employees to be honest. Feeling you can trust people is a strong way to bond. 

Have shared goals as a team: relatedness is about identifying yourself as part of a team. Setting and reviewing goals together can help everyone have a common vision and direction. Everyone should understand how their work contributes to the bigger picture, so that everyone works together and values their input.

Respect And Trust

According to a Harvard Business Review survey of 20,000 employees, respect was the top behaviour that fostered more commitment and engagement among workers. However, conflicts are inevitable in any workplace, as people have different views, approaches and styles of working. These disagreements can affect productivity, motivation and communication. Employees may not always agree with each other, and there may be many sources of tension in the workplace. Therefore, it is essential for all employees to behave professionally and respectfully in the workplace.

Two women sitting at a table, engaged in conversation and enjoying each other's company.

A high-performing team trusts its members and its leader – and vice versa. Mutual trust is critical for instilling a sense of “psychological safety,” which has a direct influence on high performance. This may sound like a complicated term, but it simply means that individuals feel secure to be themselves in private or professional settings. In the context of working teams, promoting psychological safety entails fostering an environment in which employees feel comfortable voicing issues, making errors, and providing open criticism. Without this openness, teams will miss vital input and would be unable to take the risks required for innovation. 

In fact, a Google research on teams called Project ‘Aristotle’ discovered that psychological safety was the most important element determining individual performance. Some managers believe that instilling fear in their employees would inspire them to work harder. According to Amy C. Edmondson’s book The Fearless Organisation, fear impairs analytical thinking, creative insight, and problem-solving. If a team does not trust each other sufficiently to promote true cooperation, or if they are afraid of their management, it can create a hostile climate that undermines psychological safety. High-performing teams recognise this and use strategies to ensure psychological safety.

Open Communication

Communication fosters trust. By having open conversations, both work-related and personal, team members can break down barriers and find common ground. Seeing each other as human beings can create genuine connections. Those who feel comfortable with each other are more likely to address issues than let them accumulate and remain hidden. The ability to communicate effectively within a team and with the leader/manager will enable issues to be resolved quickly. When talking about how to build a high performing team, open and courageous conversations should be a priority. Often, what distinguishes a high performing team from a good team is the amount and quality of communication and open conversations they have.

Open communication is a powerful tool that fosters trust, improves collaboration, resolves conflicts, and enhances innovation. It fosters a sense of psychological safety among team members, encouraging them to share ideas, opinions, and concerns without fear of judgement. Effective communication facilitates the exchange of ideas, promotes brainstorming, and integrates diverse perspectives, leading to more robust solutions and better outcomes. It also encourages conflict resolution, preventing misunderstandings and promoting a harmonious working environment.

team of six in a meeting and engaging

Open communication also sparks innovation by allowing the cross-pollination of ideas, leading to creative solutions and new approaches to challenges. Clarity in communication reduces ambiguity and misunderstandings, leading to more efficient workflows. Employee engagement and satisfaction are also increased when employees feel valued and part of the decision-making process.

To foster open communication within a team, encourage active listening, create a safe environment, encourage regular feedback loops, and use various communication channels to cater to diverse preferences. This foundation allows individuals to collaborate effectively, innovate, and achieve outstanding results together. By implementing these strategies, teams can create a strong dynamic that fosters trust, collaboration, innovation, and overall success.

Bridgewater Associates’ Meeting Records: One of the biggest investment management firms in the world, Bridgewater Associates, has a unique method of ensuring good communication within the company. They record everything. All meetings are recorded and accessible to all employees. This practise serves multiple purposes, such as facilitating communication, enabling learning and promoting accuracy and honesty.

“The most important principle for me is that we need to find out the truth, whatever it is, to get better,” said founder Ray Dalio. “We find out the truth by being radically transparent and putting our ego aside to examine our mistakes and personal weaknesses so that we can improve.” Using communication as a way to ‘investigate mistakes’ is an effective way to quickly and accurately identify the source of any problem. Creating a culture like this allows us to develop solutions.


High-performing teams thrive on a common goal. This ultimate aim, or achievement, is what drives the most effective teams. Working toward a clear goal allows teams to focus on achieving the greatest possible results. There are few finer sensations than working together to accomplish something, especially with close friends or peers. Success motivates success, and success is evaluated by attaining your objectives. When it comes to establishing high-performing teams, focusing on purpose and vision is critical. As your external conditions change and advance, so do your organisation’s purpose and ambitions. To keep up with the demands of change, there is always a need to learn and improve. When this desire is satisfied with a willingness to learn, success is more likely. Continuous learning not only promotes progress and keeps teams striving for greater success, but it is also a wonderful motivator. High-performing teams embrace feedback, learn from their errors, and strive to improve. When considering how to establish a high-performing team, individuals who are eager to learn are essential.

Fun Processes and Engaging Structures

To make work more engaging, consider incorporating gamification, storytelling, workshops, personal style, and team-specific art attacks. These ideas can turn mundane tasks into mini-quests, allowing team members to engage in hands-on exploration and learning.

Storytime can be used to explain team processes like a gripping story, turning them into an adventure where every step contributes to the team’s journey. Workshops can be turned into an action-packed adventure, allowing team members to dive in and explore together. Your style, your way can be incorporated into the rules, allowing for flexibility and personal flair. Team members can swap success stories, making the journey more superhero-like. Art attacks can be used to make processes more visually appealing, with infographics or doodles being a great way to make the journey more memorable. Techy tools can be used to make processes more user-friendly and cool, making them more appealing to the audience. Switching roles within processes can keep things fresh and exciting. Celebrating achievements and fostering a sense of team spirit can also be beneficial.

Feedback bonanza can be a great way to turn meetings into lively chats, where everyone contributes ideas to tweak and perfect processes together. By incorporating creativity, teamwork, and innovation, ‘boring’ processes can become the highlight of your day.

To build a high-performing team, learn the basics of team building through online and face-to-face training providers like Roffey Park Institute’s Building High Performing Teams programme. Ensure stability by knowing the number of team members that will maximise effectiveness and efficiency. Align a clear vision, purpose, and goal to create a collective bond among team members. Encourage open and brave conversations to build a risk-taking environment that motivates employees and encourages innovation. recognise and celebrate honest mistakes. Foster a culture of continuous learning by upskilling in the ever-changing technology industry. Online training platforms like Roffey Park Institute offer industry-recognised courses on current and relevant topics. This approach will help create a team that is effective and efficient.

Make The Most Out Of Your Career With Mentoria

High-performing teams are the driving force behind organisational success. They are the catalysts for innovation, productivity, and growth, enabling organisations to achieve their goals and outpace their competitors. Mentoria can provide guidance, support, and feedback to help students learn new skills, expand their knowledge base. We also help students build relationships with other professionals in their field. This can help them expand their network, learn new things, and find new opportunities. By providing access to experienced mentors, facilitating connections, creating a supportive environment, promoting knowledge sharing and fostering innovation, Mentoria can help individuals to achieve their full potential.