5 tips on creating a high performing team

What comes first - A high performing team or a highly engaged team?

Victoria March 22, 2022
Reading time: 8 minutes
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What comes first - A high performing team or a highly engaged team? We’re clear that there is a link between these two desirable team states. Once you have one, you’ll also have the other.

 

We conducted our own survey and asked the question:

 

On a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high). To what extent do you agree with the statement- “high employee engagement and high performing teams are linked”?

 

Our average score from our panel was 9.2. This indicates that high employee engagement and high performing teams are closely linked.

 

To create a high performing team, you’ll need to start with employee engagement.

 

Employee engagement

 

Employee engagement is about your employees bringing their best selves to work and doing their best work when they get there.

 

Focus on key aspects of employee engagement to create high performing teams. These fuel higher engagement and incredible work cultures.

 

Once you’ve got a high performing team, it’ll improve engagement further. Then you’re on an upward trajectory, which can gain incredible pace if you get it right.

 

Research shows that employees can do great things when they engage. The company is more likely to exceed the industry average in one-year revenue growth.

 

Where do you begin? Great team engagement and performance starts with individuals themselves being engaged. This builds up to focus on the team. But when it comes to focusing a team on high performance, there are some elements that need to be in place.

 

Here we take a look at what we’ve observed through our employee feedback surveys:

 

1. Ability for employees to be themselves around each other

 

This is the most fundamental part of creating a high performing and engaged team. Teams need to feel safe in the workplace and safe with each other. Psychological safety is a huge element of a high performing team.

 

Google found that the highest-performing teams have one thing in common: psychologically safe workplaces. Psychologically safe workplaces promote healthier, more productive and more inclusive workforces. They provide an environment where innovation can thrive and people can perform at their best.

 

Teams will naturally come up against conflict and challenging situations. The feeling that they are able to navigate it in a healthy way is important.

 

Diversity, inclusion and belonging are extremely important in the workplace. Employees want to feel they can bring their whole selves to work so they can be their best when they get there. They need a place of feeling safe to be able to do their best work.

 

Environments that encourage diversity & inclusivity practices promote trust and employee engagement among employees. Research shows that inclusive teams perform up to 30% better in high-diversity environments.

 

When diversity and inclusion exist, employers give themselves a greater chance of gaining access to a larger talent pool. This ensures they can hire employees with the skills, experience, and knowledge needed to build high-performing teams. Employee performance in diverse organisations is 12% higher than in companies with no inclusivity efforts.

 

 

2. Clear direction of travel

 

If you don’t have clarity on the direction of travel, the team can drift. It doesn’t mean that they aren’t still working hard, but it could mean a lot of wasted time, effort and money.

 

We asked a panel of leaders which factors they thought had the highest impact when it came to the engagement of high performing teams. 32% said connection & the communication of goals, vision, mission and values was the most important factor. 32% said personal fulfilment such as reward, work-life balance and career development.

 

It’s also important to make sure that teams are clear on how the work they are doing fits into the bigger picture. That’s when they’ll get a sense of pride and satisfaction from what they are delivering.

 

 

3. Communication matters

 

Communication is one of the most common topics that comes up in our engagement surveys as being lacking. It’s the single biggest “ask” we see teams asking their leaders to work on.

 

From business, to team, to individual feedback - engaged employees like to understand what is going on in the business and how it impacts on them.

 

High performing teams like communication to go both ways. They need to feel like they have a voice and an influence on their work and working environment too. That’s where the power of anonymous engagement surveys can really help.

 

Accountemps research shows the number one cause for low morale is poor communication. Sharing important updates with employees, recognising their achievements and ensuring people collaborate is essential for successful internal communication.

 

Communication is a critical part of employee engagement. It promotes better performance, employee retention and wellbeing. Employees are more likely to engage and contribute when there’s an open organisational culture. Good communication enables employees to stay connected to their workplace and understand their organisation’s purpose & strategy. It allows them to identify with its values and develop a sense of belonging by understanding how they contribute to its wider purpose.

 

 

4. Great performance management

 

This isn’t about tackling poor performers, it’s about creating healthy performance cultures.

 

Poor performance needs tackling swiftly and fairly. Nothing creates resentment and toxicity in a team like letting poor performance fester.

 

A survey shows low performers can have significantly negative effects on an organisation. Below are a few excerpts from the survey respondents:


  • 68% say low performers lower workplace morale
  • 44% say low performers increase the work burden on high performers
  • 54% say low performers contribute to a lack of initiative and motivation, resulting in a work culture where mediocrity is accepted

 

When low performers are identified, how should they be handled? Immediately firing them may not be the best solution as leaders owe every employee the opportunity to succeed.

 

Morale can be lacking for many reasons:


  • Lack of direction or alignment 
  • Lack of feedback
  • Confusion/fear about the work environment. 

 

Clarify what success looks like for those employees. Give them a chance to perform and engage by delivering these things regularly.

 

It’s also about great performers feeling recognised and appreciated for their contribution.

 

Much of this sits with leaders. They need to handle performance fairly and create great working environments for their teams to thrive. Building trust and respect in teams is important for high engagement and performance.

 

It can be a useful exercise to check in that performance culture is where it needs to be. You can address any issues that might be preventing high performance from developing.

 

 

5. Fulfilling roles

 

High performing teams are made up of high performing individuals. Individuals want to be challenged and have a sense of autonomy & control over the work that they do and how they do it.

 

Flexible and hybrid working is so often talked about. It's having such a big impact on engagement - employees can have great control over how they do their work.

 

The traditional working week of 9-5, 5 days a week seems to be hard wired into our society. Most workers build their days, weeks and years around this working pattern. But for many people, it doesn't align with their life outside of work.

 

Many juggle a near impossible balance of work and life outside of work. This makes it difficult to be fully engaged in their job. 5 million people in the UK are juggling caring responsibilities with work - that's 1 in 7 of the workforce.

 

According to a recent survey:

 

  • When working long hours more than a quarter of employees feel depressed (27%), one third feel anxious (34%), and more than half feel irritable (58%).

 

Moving away from the traditional working week and offering more flexible ways of working can offer solutions to these challenges. In return, you'll build long lasting employee engagement and create competitive advantage.

 

Flexible working options open up new, often more diverse talent pools. It also gives employees a greater reason to stay in your business. When this sense of challenge and autonomy is blended together into a team environment, it creates a fantastic team culture and generates high performance.


Having a high performing team is necessary for your business to succeed. Employee feedback surveys are a great way to find out how you can improve in ways that will benefit your team. To find out more about how Space HR can help you create high performing teams, visit our website www.spacehr.co.uk



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