Principles of High Performance Teams

For IT teams achieving high performance, it can often mean a two or three or even ten-fold improvement in performance versus the results of a mediocre team. As an IT leader you should strive to mature your team to work in a high performance manner. Here are the principles of a high performance team:

  • Do it right the first time – The only way to achieve high performance is through high quality work. The only way to get to sustained high quality is to do things right the first time.  You must plan, engineer, inspect, implement, and verify with intellect and diligence to ensure your work is the best it can be.   Critical tasks that cannot be attended to with diligence should be escalated to the team and management, and then addressed to enable high quality in the longer term.
  • Be stewards of your processes – Become a knowledgeable professional fully aware of the state, value, and potential of the activities for which you or your team are responsible. Understand best practice in the industry. Demonstrate a level of initiative and willingness to exercise improvement. Leaders must ensure the team knows they are empowered to fix and improve their processes.
  • Leverage metrics and score cards – Use a results-oriented, metrics based approach to assess progress, identify issues and define initiatives. The best leaders use facts and business case logic to decide directions and make adjustments. Leverage a continuous improvement approach based on operational metrics for your key processes along with objective root cause analysis. This allows teams to quickly modify their tactics, take appropriate actions, and then continuously improve their results. Supplement tactical actions with a drive for longer term solutions that lift performance to much greater degree.
  • Hold yourselves accountable and responsibleAs a team, you should work to prioritise the important activities and initiatives that align to your strategic aspirations. Publish these goals and their measures, and then hold appropriate parties responsible for delivery. The team is empowered and the team must also be held accountable. Set stretch but doable goals and then reward based on results. Leaders should hold themselves to personal account and take ownership for the things they have committed to delivering.  Similarly, vendors and support partners should be held to the same high bar as the team.

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