High Performance Teams

Whether formally part of a team, or just working for the same organisation, people have to work together. Making sure teams are operating at peak performance is essential to maximising results.

High Performance Teams


The ability to create a high-performance team is the holy grail of leadership.

Creating a team that will win whether you’re there or not, is what all business leaders should be striving for. But it is not only CEOs and senior executives that can impact a team moving an average team to a high performance team - everyone has a role to play.

This masterclass will help you create a high performing team of your own. We will analyse the importance of team formation, simplify leading assessment tools so we can put them into practice more easily, learn how to solve problems and use conflict as an asset to replicate top performance.

That way, we all win!

In this masterclass you’ll learn the best part for you to play in any high performing team and how this role will change over time. It will not be about always being to “Captain” but how you can contribute to getting things done. The plan outlined during the session will give you a road map to increase your effectiveness and that of your teammates.

Anyone can benefit from taking this masterclass, but especially those who are in charge of organising teams of people, ambitious leaders, anyone interested in working to create a high-performance team. As Michael Jordan says

Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.

What makes a High Performing Team?

The ability to create a high-performance team is the holy grail of leadership.

Creating a team that will win whether you’re there or not, is what all business leaders should be striving for. But it is not only CEOs and senior executives that can impact a team moving an average team to a high performance team - everyone has a role to play.

This masterclass will help you create a high performing team of your own. We will analyse the importance of team formation, simplify leading assessment tools so we can put them into practice more easily, learn how to solve problems and use conflict as an asset to replicate top performance.

That way, we all win!

In this video we will explore what makes a team a team, and what the differences are between a standard team and a high performing team. By the end of this video you will have and understanding of what makes a team high performing rather than just average. You will feel empowered to take the necessary steps and you will be motivated to do so, knowing which step to take first.

Michael Jordan said “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” Business success comes from playing the long game. It’s not a single win but a series of ongoing wins, of rising against whatever adversity comes your way and rising stronger, better, wiser. It’s having a team with you that will pull together when the going gets tough and support each other all the way. It’s continuing to improve even when the going is great. A high performance team takes thought, effort from everyone and a little spark that will come from the synergy created when a plan comes together. Synergy - where the whole equals more than the sum of its parts. This is what we’re aiming for when we talk about high performing teams. This is what this masterclass is about.

But before we can start properly looking at high performing teams we need to identify what a team actually is. So, in a notebook write down what you think a team is. the video and do it now.

A team is, at its most simple, a team of people who work together. What are some things that we need to think about each of the important words that make up that definition: People, work, together, team? Let’s have a brief think about them. Team - a team means we have various people, probably all with different characters, with different strengths and weaknesses. They might work better at different times of the day, or live in different time zones even. People - the fact that our team is made up of people means we are working with emotional beings, who are subject to all sorts of influences, who are all different and wonderfully unique. Work - well work means we have to put some effort in, doesn’t it? Nothing will happen unless someone makes it happen. There has to be some activity by the people in the team. Together - what does this mean? All doing same thing? No. Not necessarily but it probably means that it’s work towards a common goal of some sort.

Before I go on to speak about what the characteristics of high performing teams are I want us first to have a think about what the barriers are to high performance? Lots of things can and do get in the way of high performance so if we talk about them now then we are forewarned and thus forearmed. If we know something might go wrong we are better placed to combat it than if we are taken by complete surprise. So, the video and have a think to yourself. Make some notes so you remember what you came up with and then we’ll go through them together.

So I’m sure you have got some of these, but perhaps we can add to them with some of the following barriers to a high performance team: The first one I would start with is a lack of leadership, and no clearly defined goal or process. Then I’d say a lack of clarity regarding the role and expectations of each team member, a lack of accountability, a defensive culture where people fear both giving and receiving feedback and one where no one dares speak up with new ideas or objections in case they are shot down and humiliated. A lack of diversity in terms of skillsets, levels of experience and personalities as well as working styles can also cause issues, as can any members that are too emotionally involved, or too dominant as well as team members who never speak up and are carried along by others rather than pulling their own weight. Personality clashes can also get in the way as well as any egos that are too big, or small. Success as a high performance team is a delicate balance of all these factors and strong cultural grasp of the people, the processes and the goal.

So what does make a winning team, a team that stands out among other teams, a team that people want to be a part of?

Simon Hartley talks about the 6 characteristics of high performing teams, be they military or in the world of sport or business. He says they all share these characteristics:

A strong shared purpose - they all understand why what they do is important AND care about it. This is a major difference between teams that get by and teams that perform exceptionally well. Getting your people to care about outcomes, both small and large, is of the utmost importance in building a winning team. How do we do this though? It’s much easier said than done.

A strong shared purpose comes from having an important part to play in the success of the business and understanding the part that you play. It comes from knowing that the important part you play is valued by all the others within the business too and that everyone acknowledges the importance of each individual part as of equal importance. So we’re back to 360 degree leadership here where everyone’s contribution is valued. A strong shared purpose comes from knowing that your job is valid, valuable and acknowledged as such and that what you do contributes to the success of the business, or the team as a whole. The only way you can ensure that this is the case is to know exactly what the purpose of the team is. To make it explicit and to make sure everyone knows what the part they play is and how it relates to the overall achievement of the purpose.

But this is the real world too and although everyone gets motivated to a certain extent by a sense of purpose from within, there is also a level of self-interest to everyone and their behaviour - and rightly so. We all must look after ourselves and our family as a priority in the whole scheme of things. So in order to recognise this reality and to promote the strong shared purpose within the team you also need to know your team really well so that you know what motivates them. Motivation comes from within, we know, but realistically it will include some level of external motivation too, whether that’s financial, or to do with kudos, recognition or fame . Most people want to do a great job up to a point, but if doing a great job meant having no time off, or never earning enough to buy your own house then that probably wouldn’t be enough. A simple way to find out what motivates people is to ask them. But some people, when asked the question, what motivates you, may struggle to answer. We immediately assume it’s money but people aren’t always as predictable as you think. People don’t know the things that motivate them because they don’t often spend time thinking about them selves and what makes them tick, so it’s a matter of helping them find out. That’s your responsibility as a leader. Help them discover what makes them tick and then base a reward system around it.

You might want to ask questions that pit one reward against another and have them choose, so would you prefer time off or money as a reward? Would you rather work 6 days a week and earn X or 4 days a week and earn Y? Would you prefer to receive a week’s extra holiday as a bonus or a financial bonus?

Action: So, if you haven’t got a strong sense of shared purpose, make sure you define your purpose along with your team so you get their buy in, you can do this in a meeting during which you slowly nudge your team towards a single statement. Goals can then be incorporated within that. So the strong shared purpose might be to be a team that provides a first class service to clients. A goal within that might be to respond to all enquiries within 6 hours. Work these out with your team and gain buy in from everyone through mutual consensus.

The second characteristic that world class teams have is shared standards and expectations - they all know what’s good enough. You might be surprised to hear me use the phrase ‘good enough’ here in a part where we are talking about world class teams. But it’s a concept that leads to action and accountability rather than perfectionism and procrastination or prevarication. In order to practise, and by that I mean operate, as a world class team everyone needs to know exactly what is good enough so that they can push forward until they reach good enough, proceed with the next stage once they have reached good enough, and hold people accountable for anything that isn’t good enough. Without specifying what is good enough and what isn’t good enough people may prevaricate, not knowing when to move to the next level of the process, they might work on something too long, trying to perfect it, when the level they had reached 2 weeks ago would have sufficed for the next part of the process with the improvements being made in the background at the same time. Good enough holds everyone accountable to explicit standards of behaviour and practise. Good enough is a standard setting activity that is vital for a world class team.

Action: Once you have your goals you can then provide parameters that make the assessment of work as clearly good enough or not good enough simple. Once everyone knows where they stand they can make informed decisions about the level of their work. Most people will self police with a clearly defined system like this.

The third characteristic is total appreciation of each individual - where all team members understand where everyone else fits in. As I spoke about before, everyone must understand and appreciate the importance of everyone else in the team and their role too. There should be no prima donna behaviour, no favouritism, no cliques, no undermining or demeaning of others or their roles, not even in a hilarious banter type fashion. Teams are undermined all the time by banter. While a small amount of banter is fun it should never be about the person’s role or contribution. It might not look like it affects them at the time but I can promise you, after speaking to hundreds of people about this issue it has a negative effect. People go away and wonder if the commenter ‘really thinks that’ or even ‘does everyone think that’. At the very least people will waste time thinking about whether people think that, at the worst level it can undermine a person’s confidence in their own performance which can then become a self-fulfilling prophecy. World class teams have each other’s backs, they are supportive and they encourage each other rather than undermine each other.

Action - use the DISC model to help with this. This is talked about in a separate video.

I’d also like to make the point as we talk about appreciating each team member’s contribution, about what ‘appreciation’ means. Appreciation isn’t just a theoretical concept. Appreciation means that appreciative behaviours and words are said frequently and understood as appreciation. It means that praise and recognition are freely given amongst the team as well as from a top-down perspective, it means that everyone understands that appreciation of one team member does not detract from the appreciation of another, there is limitless appreciation available. And, on that note, the next quality of world class team is that they have

Strength in diversity - world class teams understand everyone’s differences and make the most of them. This means that we must cope with and adjust to the different needs of the team members, not rejecting them or demeaning them because they are different from us. It takes a whole range of skillsets and knowledge to deliver the shared purpose and that means lots of different personality traits, interests, approaches, meeting styles, presentation styles, thought patterns, ways of working, cultural norms, senses of humour, sensitivities and even fashion sense. While we shouldn’t be snowflakes, we also shouldn’t point out difference to ‘us’ or ‘normal’ as though it’s in some way incorrect. Accept that you and how you are is only one of a myriad of ways, none of which is ‘the’ right way. As I just said, a world class team isn’t a team of snowflakes who carefully tiptoe round each other. More that it’s a team of people who have complete respect for each other and the part they play in the creation of the shared vision and as a result of that they are prepared to hear how they could be better and prepared to tell others how they could be better too, because the 5th characteristic is that world class teams have

Complete honesty - not incomplete honesty, most businesses have incomplete honesty. They’re honest when it suits them, or when they get really frustrated with someone or a certain process, but they’re not honest when it’s difficult, when someone needs to address an issue that’s challenging or when it puts themselves in a position they don’t want to be in. World class teams are completely honest because they know that the shared purpose is the most important thing. They also know that everyone else in the team knows that too, so that no individual will prioritise their own fragile ego over an improvement to a process or practise within the whole. If there is a better way then a world class team member wants to know about that as soon as possible, they don’t want pussyfooting around, they want to know quickly and efficiently, politely, of course, respectfully, absolutely but they definitely want to benefit from the wisdom of the team in order to get the best outcome. In world class teams the members know that the criticism is not personal, it’s necessary in order for the whole team to win, which is the ultimate desired outcome.

Action: ensure all of your team members, as well as you, are great at asking for, accepting and acting on feedback. Watch the feedback masterclass videos and carry out the associated actions to make sure this is the case.

The final characteristic of world class teams is that they are always learning - not sometimes, not often, but always. The moment anyone starts to be complacent then it’s downhill from there. Always learning aligns with complete honesty in that it’s vital to review and debrief frequently and honestly. If you can do this then no problem will ever become so great that it’s insurmountable or undiscussable or that it will be too expensive to overcome. Little and often means that everyone gets used to the review and debrief process, everyone gets used to other people criticising their parts of the process and their work and that desensitises us in a good way. It also means that your people get good at giving feedback to their colleagues in a way that’s inoffensive, that is sensitive and thoughtful. No one likes to think they’ve wasted time on anything or been less effective than they could be so support each other to come out on top, better than before and always ahead of the game.

Action: make sure everyone has a schedule of continuous learning. Use the other videos of Quarterdeck Online to make sure of this as well as other technical sources. Introduce monthly bitesize learning sessions where each of the team contribute a tip or technique in turn.

So to recap the six characteristics of world class teams are:

  1. A strong shared purpose
  2. shared standards and expectations
  3. total appreciation of each individual
  4. Strength in diversity
  5. Complete honesty
  6. Always learning

What I want you to do now that we’re nearing the end of this video is to answer the following questions. the video after I have said each one and write down your responses. The questions are:

Most of those questions have yes/no answers. If you aren't answering an immediate and definite yes then it’s probably a no. Don’t worry about that, that’s what this masterclass is all about. The rest of the masterclass videos will help you ensure that the next time you ask yourself those questions the answers are firm and immediate yeses.

Leadership at Different Stages of Team Development

In this video we’re going to look at what’s required from a leadership perspective at each stage of a team, from its initial development through to its effective operation with minimal supervision. There will no doubt be overlap throughout a team’s development of these stages but these are categorisations that can help you identify where you are with a certain team and what you need to make sure is happening on a practical level as well as a strategic one.

By the end of this video you will understand the stages of a team’s development and what it needs from you, the leader, to progress to the next level and on ultimately to the level of a high performing team. You will feel able to identify which stage your team is at currently and you will be able to address with confidence any issues facing your team.

But first let’s talk about the stages of a team. The first stage is that of Beginning. In the beginning everyone is keen as mustard, fired up, wanting to show themselves in their best light and open and willing to be friends and get on with everyone. Everyone is smiley and helpful and nothing is too much trouble. What the team needs now from the leadership is a setting of the culture. This will occur if the leader makes positive efforts to create the kind of culture that maximises team performance, but it’s up to the leader to set the tone. There are 3 things that the leader must do. These are:

One, help everyone get to know each other as people, not just as colleagues. Set some time at the very beginning to have breakfast together and just chit chat. Talk about family, about what you all did at the weekend, about what you’re watching on TV, what films you have seen recently. Please do ‘waste’ a good hour on this. It’s not a waste at all, it’s helping your team bed in, in a way they need to in order to be able to be there for each other, to feel comfortable with each other, to minimise any petty rivalries or differences.

The next thing the leader needs to do is to have what we call the Expectations Conversation. I go into this in a separate video as it’s fundamental to so many aspects of leadership. It’s really important you do this with anyone with whom you have any kind of productive relationship. Certainly at work but it works really well at home too or with friends.

The third thing you need to do is to have the Expectations Conversation with everyone on the team about their individual roles and how you expect them to work together. This is where you can be absolutely clear about the goal of the team as a whole as well as the goals of each individual. Having this conversation as a team is really important for absolute clarity and accountability. If Bill needs X from Clare by Tuesday each week in order to be able to do his job effectively then the fact that Clare knows everyone on the team now knows this to be the case means she is less likely to not deliver what Bill needs on time. It also means that if Bill doesn’t deliver on time to Bob that Bob may well have more understanding as to a reason for delay (knowing the process more as he does) and he may not barrel in on Bill and have a go at him, or moan about him to others. Having the expectations Conversation with everyone present means that everyone is accountable and everyone is aware, with absolute clarity, of the importance of their roles within the entire process and how NOT doing any of it will impact the whole team.

The fourth thing you need to do is set accountability from the outset. Have a weekly meeting, or whatever is appropriate and make it clear, firmly but friendly and supportive as always, that this is where accountability happens, in front of the whole team. Get people to say where they’re up to and commit to what they will have done by next meeting. Hold them accountable to that commitment at the next meeting. I find having Stepping Stone Goals works really well here. We go into this in our Time Management Masterclass.

The next stage of a team’s formation is Settling. This is where the real work starts to happen, everyone settles in to the task and challenges between people may well arise. As a leader you need to stick firm to the procedures you have agreed in your Expectations Conversations and be clear and firm about accountability in each weekly meeting. If any clashes occur, keep positive and deal with them as soon as it’s clear that the participants aren’t just going to get over it themselves. You must keep in mind the importance of the teams unity and maintain feelings of trust and positivity towards each other. Point out positive things people do and ask others to do the same. Stamp down on any bitching and moaning by responding with positivity and redirecting their energy. So, if Bob is moaning that Claire hasn’t done this and that, sympathise and ask Bob how he plans on dealing with it, or what he has done so far to deal with it or move the situation on. Make it clear that everyone has a responsibility to get on with everyone on the team and be polite and helpful. Moaning and gossiping will not be tolerated in the team. You could make this part of your team expectations conversation. As the team’s leader your job is to keep the momentum of the team moving forwards at all times, even if it’s only by tiny fractions. Forwards forwards forwards, will get you through anything.

The next stage is Uniting, where the team will be operating well as a unit. They have bonded and feel emotions of belonging and responsibility towards each other Everyone understands everyone else in the team has different strengths and ways of doing and appreciates that this is what makes their team strong. As the team leader it’s now your job to keep the energy and the momentum up - you might organise things that are fun for everyone to do, a social day perhaps, invite family too to further strengthen the bonds between your team members.

The next stage is Thriving, where the team are driving their own bus and all are on board. They are operating with minimal supervision and bringing the results in. You should have delegated as much as you can now and have as light a touch as possible. The team has an identity and a journey of its own and will grow and develop in its own way. Make sure the culture remains strong by reinforcing positively the cultural values of praise, support and encourage that you set up in the first place.

So, now you are aware of the four stages of team development: beginning, settling, uniting and thriving. As a leader you should now be able to identify which stage your team is at and what you need to do to maximise the team’s performance.

So, what I need you to do now is to note down which stage your team is at now, 3 challenges your team is facing and 3 actions that you must take to deal with those challenges.

So, for example, if might be that you feel you are in the uniting stage but you have one individual who doesn’t seem to be ‘on the bus’ as firmly as the others. What can you do about it? Well I would suggest that you refer back to the expectations conversation in your next weekly meeting with everyone where you mention how important commitment is and that you carry out an exercise that means everyone has to think about how committed they are to the team and to its goal. Don’t ask them to reveal how committed they are as that puts people on the spot. The aim here is to make people have a think about their own commitment and then decide what to do about it themselves, either they step up or they step down and away and decide to leave the team. Either outcome is better than staying where they are being uncommitted.

It might be that you feel you should be in the thriving stage but you still have to put too much in to get them all moving in the right direction. Many of the leaders we deal with struggle with this. When I hear a leader talking about this my first instinct is to look at them. It’s the job of a leader to empower and enable the team to move on its own. Leaders who are in this position are generally there because they are doing things that are in some way impeding the development of the team. Step back, tell your team that you trust them and walk away fro a while. Usually when you do this you‘ll find that the team steps up. They have to know that it’s their responsibility to do so though, and know that they are empowered to do so, so make sure you tell them clearly that this is the case.

So note down which stage you feel your team is at now, then 3 challenges that your team is facing and 3 actions that you must take to deal with those challenges. Do it now. And then make sure you carry out those actions.

How the DISC Model Can Help

In this video we’re going to explore how important it is to be able to work with people who are different from you. By the end of this video you will understand the different types of people as identified by the DISC model. You’ll have the ability to think more like they do and by doing this you will be able to get on better with them and work better with them. It’s really helpful if you can watch this video with your team. Don’t worry if you can’t, but if it’s a possibility then you will have a lot of fun doing it together.

So, The DiSC Model by Wiley is a simple but powerful model that describes four basic behavioural styles: D, i, S, and C, and helps people identify different character styles and their associated behaviours in order to facilitate better working relationships. The letters stand for:

D: Dominance i: Influence S: Steadiness C: Conscientiousness

Everyone is a blend of all four DiSC styles—although usually one, two, or even three styles stand out more. Each person has a unique behavioural profile with different styles and priorities. It’s important to note that the model is non-judgemental so no one styles positioned as better or worse than another. Knowing about and working with these differences in style can be extremely valuable. Once you assess these differences and harness their value, better workplace communication AND healthier organisations become possible.

The Disc style says that there are Two Dimensions of Human Behaviour which produce four styles, as the two axes cross at the centre creating four distinct zones. These two dimensions reflect fundamental aspects of human nature.

The VERTICAL DIMENSION goes from cautious at the bottom to BOLD at the top.

The HORIZONTAL DIMENSION goes from QUESTIONING on the left to ACCEPTING on the right.

The vertical dimension is best described as the level of activity, ranging from active to thoughtful. People with DiSC styles at the top of the circle tend to be fast-paced and are often described as assertive, dynamic, and bold. Traditional explanations of the model suggest that these people perceive themselves as more powerful than the environment. Because of this perception, they tend to exert effort to change their circumstances. On the other hand, people with styles that fall toward the bottom of the circle tend to be more moderate paced and are often described as calm, methodical, and careful. Traditionally, these people are thought to perceive themselves as less powerful than the environment, and thus they are more inclined to adapt to existing circumstances.

The horizontal dimension runs from questioning to accepting. People with DiSC styles that fall toward the left side of the circle are naturally more skeptical in nature and are often described as logic-focused, objective, and challenging. A traditional explanation of these characteristics is that these people see the environment as antagonistic. So they might withhold trust from people and ideas until those outside elements can be thoroughly vetted. On the other hand, people with styles on the right side of the circle are naturally more receptive in nature and are often described as people-focused, empathizing, and agreeable. Traditionally, they are said to see the environment as being aligned with their interests. So they tend to be biased to see the people and ideas around them as favourable and because of this they are inclined to trust them.

So, if we look at the D (Dominance) style, we can see that it is active and questioning. This describes people who are direct, forceful, and outspoken with their opinions. The i (Influence) style is active and accepting. This describes people who are outgoing, enthusiastic, and lively. The S (Steadiness) style is thoughtful and accepting. This describes people who are gentle, accommodating, and patient with others’ mistakes. The C (Conscientiousness) style is thoughtful and questioning. This describes people who are analytical, reserved, and precise.

So let’s start with you. Which one of these do you regard yourself as. So, on the vertical dimension, are you Active, fast-paced, assertive, dynamic, bold OR Thoughtful, moderate-paced, calm, methodical, careful

THEN, on the horizontal axis, are you Questioning, logic-focused, objective, sceptical, challenging OR Accepting, people-focused, empathising, receptive, agreeable.

So this should identify your main character type. If you are active and challenging you are a D, if you are active and people-focused, you are an I, if you are moderate paced and agreeable you are an S and if you are thoughtful and sceptical you are a C.

If you are a D, a dominant type then you are likely to sit within these behaviours: Your Priorities are getting immediate results, taking action, challenging yourself and others . You’re likely to be Motivated by: power and authority, competition, winning and success. You Fear loss of control, being taken advantage of and vulnerability and people will notice that you’re self-confident, direct, forceful and perhaps risk-taking.

On the downside you might display a lack of concern for others, impatience and insensitivity.

If you are an I, and Influencer, your Priorities are likely to be expressing enthusiasm, taking action and encouraging collaboration. You might be Motivated by: social recognition, group activities and friendly relationships. You Fear: social rejection, disapproval, loss of influence or being ignored.

Characteristics that others will notice about you are that you are charming, enthusiastic, sociable, optimistic and talkative. The things that get in the way sometimes for you are your impulsiveness, perhaps some disorganization and a lack of follow-through.

If you are an S, a Steady type, then your priorities are giving support and maintaining stability. You will enjoy collaboration. You’re likely to be Motivated by a stable environment, sincere appreciation, cooperation and opportunities to help others. On the other hand, you will Fear any loss of stability, change, loss of harmony or offending others. People will describe you as patient, as a team player, having a calm approach, being a good listener and as having humility.

The things that are likely to hold you back are that you may be overly accommodating, you might avoid change or be indecisive.

If you are a C then you are likely to be most concerned with ensuring accuracy, maintaining stability and challenging assumptions. You’re likely to be Motivated by opportunities to use your expertise or to gain knowledge as well as attention to quality. You are likely to Fear criticism, slipshod methods, and being wrong.

Your team will notice your precision, analytical skills and skepticism, as well as your reserved quiet nature. You can be overly critical, have a tendency to overanalyse, and this might result in you isolating yourself.

You probably found it quite easy to identify your dominant type but then with a bit more thought you’re thinking actually, I’m generally an I but I have a really strong tendency to seek out where I can provide support and this can lead me to over-accommodating. It’s important to remember that this is all a spectrum and that some ‘I’s may sit right at the top of the I spectrum, far away from the S section but that some might well be just inside the ‘I’ line and very close to the ’S' part. Don’t get too hung up on it. It’s just a way of generalising character types so we can try to be the best colleagues we can be.

What I want you to do now though is to think about yourself in more detail. I want you to write down the following four questions and answer them about yourself. The questions are What are your greatest contributions to your workplace? What are your greatest fears? How are you misunderstood? And How can other styles relate better to you? I’ll say them again, they are: What are your greatest contributions to your workplace? What are your greatest fears? How are you misunderstood? And How can other styles relate better to you? Now I want you to the video and answer the questions.

Now it’s on to your team. I want you to write down the names of your team members, or anyone with whom you have a relationship that you would like to improve. Now I want you to try and identify where they fit into the DISC profile. If possible, take the DISC profile to them and ask them, that’s why it’s a great idea to do this in your team if you can. But even if you’re on your own I’d like to you to do the exercise. Then I want you to answer the 4 questions from their perspective. This exercise will help you understand them more, what they contribute - so you can appreciate them, what they fear - so you can make sure you don’t exacerbate them, how they’re misunderstood - so you can endeavour not to do that, and how you, as another style can relate better to them. If you do this with everyone in your team and then act on your knowledge, you will become a better team member.

Remember that the DISC model is only a model, it’s helpful rather than definitive, a guide rather than absolute. If you keep it in mind, especially when you are dealing with those team members whom you find most difficult then it will enable you to have a more productive relationship.

Have fun with it. But do act on it. If all you do is have a bit of fun and then ignore it it won’t do anything at all for you. Go for it, indulge yourself in a bit of fun while educating yourself about how your team mates think.

The 5 Types of Team

In this video we’re going to talk about the 5 types of ‘Team’ and how these are linked to success. By the end of it you will have an understanding of the different types of team, you will feel able to identify where your team lies within the types and you will be able to influence improvement by carrying out the action points.

The first type of team is the Openly Hostile type. In this team members are despairingly hostile - they may create scandals, steal from the company or team members or even threaten violence.

We can think of families like this perhaps, as well as workplaces. Prince Andrew and Meghan Markle’s father as well as Harry and Meghan themselves now might be classed as members of an openly hostile ‘team’. We might say Boris Johnson does this too, or Donald TRump, with his seemingly thoughtless scandal-creating tweets. within the company And in terms of a more typical workplace example Gerald Ratner very famously did this. As Chief executive of Ratner’s jewellery, a successful high street chain, he openly said that most of the stuff his shops sold was rubbish, causing PR chaos and accelerating a spiral of decline within the company.

Most of the people who we would categorise as being openly hostile would not see themselves as being so. People justify what they do for various reasons and rarely, in this team, are honest enough with themselves to check their motivation before leaping in. This team feels dreadful to be in, you will most likely be looking to leave this team as soon as you can. If you are a member of a team like this then you need to take urgent action. The members of this team are unhappy, unfulfilled, probably frightened to raise their heads above the parapet. The leader of this team needs to call them all together, acknowledge the situation, take responsibility for it and declare action to replace this culture with a more positive one. People need to see and hear responsibility being taken by leaders, not blame being placed on team members. They then need to see rapid change and ideally some quick wins so they start to believe in the new style of leadership. If they don’t see change rapidly then they will engage in further destructive behaviours. This team is on a road to nowhere fast and strong decisive leadership is the only way it will be saved from devouring itself.

The second type of team is the Passive Aggressive one where people are passively antagonistic, sarcastic and resistant to new management initiatives. So many companies fall in to this culture. Colleagues snipe at one another, are happy when another team fails, they are negative and suspicious when the leadership suggests change. This kind of team is the result of weak leadership in the past. Again this needs a strong leadership intervention where the culture is identified as toxic and steps are taken to ensure rapid change. This culture may well be even more difficult to change than the openly hostile one as people are less inclined to admit the subversion of their past and present behaviours. The leadership in this instance needs to be strong and clear but not punitive in any way. It needs a caring, supportive approach where it’s made safe for people to drop their antagonistic behaviours without being made to feel conscious or shamed about them. Saving face for everyone needs to be a priority. Again leadership need to admit their responsibility and make it clear that things have to change and that everyone will be supported to effect this change and turn the ship around. Smiling and warmth are a must in this leadership intervention style.

The next team style is Individualistic. A lot of businesses fall into this category where people hoard knowledge because they want to outthink and outwork their internal competitors on an individual basis. They are lone warriors who want to win and be the best. Microsoft are probably the best known example of this. They cultivated a highly competitive culture where the bottom 15% or so of employees were fired no matter how well they were doing or what potential they had. There’s no way anyone in this culture is going to share knowledge that would help their team members, or should I say competitors, because that’s how the company managed to position them. Hoarding knowledge that would help the whole team, or whole business, is a natural reaction when sharing it might result in someone else doing better than you and moving you down in to the danger zone. Competition is good but only when managed effectively.

In a culture like this leaders need to bring in metrics that reward team performance and reassure employees that there is no internal competition that will result in the termination of their employment. It’s great that individuals want to perform well but not when it’s at the expense of the team. Reward great results individually but reward team results more.

The next team style is Synergistic. This is when a team together is more effective than the sum of its parts. It becomes a transition from “I’m good” to “we’re good”. Members are excited to work together for the benefit of the entire company/team. We worked with ASDA a while back to train their team leaders and they seemed to fall into this category. Everyone was very proud to work for ASDA and had great things to say. We produced a workbook for the training we designed and though it was met with great feedback in terms of its content they requested that the borders and colours we used be removed. This was because one of their employees a year or so earlier had costed out what it cost the business each year to produce booklets with these features over simple black and white plain ones. He had done this in his own time, submitted it to the leadership and it had been adopted. Their business model focused on value for money and price so by carrying that through even in to their own training materials they were saving money. They didn’t just talk a good strap line, they absolutely lived it.

The final team type is Innovative. In this team, members seek to use their potential to make a global/huge impact. I think the most obvious example of this is Apple which draws talent to it like a magnet. The iPhone we can safely say has had a global impact as has much of their other tech. Steve Jobs was known for his innovative approach of starting with the user experience and working backwards to the technology. Where the technology didn’t exist yet Apple made it happen.

It’s easy to just identify ourselves as being part of our work team. So we might be an accountant at Company X and see ourselves as Team X, but in reality we might be part of several sub-teams at X as well as our family team, our wider family team, our friendship team, our in-laws team. There are many teams of which we are a part. We don’t think of them as teams because that’s not how they’re labelled but our ‘position’ in each team and the culture of each team might be quite different.

With this in mind have a think about where your particular teams sit in these 5 types - openly hostile, passively aggressive, individualistic, synergistic or innovative? Take a few minutes to assess each of your teams and see what you think of the team as a whole. Think of one word that characterises each team that you’re a part of.

So, we are now starting to think about individual teams of which we’re a part and identify characteristics about them. But let’s think about ourselves too. What role do we play in each team? Be honest, this is about getting to know ourselves, as well as the teams around us. I’m not going to judge anyone for saying “I’m the negative one in this team” - that just shows honesty and self awareness. We can all be a bit negative sometimes.

Write what you think your role is below the team type. We have different roles in different teams. In our friends we might be the social secretary, or the agony aunt, but at work we might be the energiser, the motivator.

What I want you to start thinking about now, that we’re coming to the end of this video, is how we can be better than we currently are. When we work as a team we are stronger, better. None of us is stronger than all of us. Identify what you could do to benefit your teams and make sure you do it.

Creating a High Performing Online Team

In this video we’re going to talk about how to create a high performing online team. By the end of it you will understand that creating a high performing online team is not very different from one in which you are all in the same location, you will have a route map of the steps to take and you will be aware of some of the challenges associated with creating a high performing online team.

In this video I am going to tell you which other videos to watch as some of the actions will be discussed in detail in those videos.

With the arrival of Covid 19 creating a high performing online team became a matter of urgency for most business worldwide. Even those who were still operating as key workers generally had a percentage of their team working from home. This new reality has changed the way we work forever with many employees and companies opting to continue working more from home and reducing office space. Many people enjoyed the lack of a commute and the extra hours in the day this provided. Many companies saw productivity rise as people did better work without the distractions of other colleagues and the temptations to hold many meetings that would otherwise stall productivity. The working world was forced to become more comfortable with the technology to conduct online meetings and those meetings were found to be effective, so that was another 2 barriers removed. All in all people discovered that working in an effective online team was entirely possible, rather than scary and it could, in fact, be a win-win all round with reduced costs, financial and personal, for everyone.

But there were also challenges. What I’d like you to do now is to the video and write down some of the challenges that you think face an online team whose goal is to become high performing? it now and make some notes.

So you should hopefully have some written down now. The challenges that we came up are that not everyone works well from home, some people need to be fired up by other people or the presence of other people, zoom meetings can take up too much time and are often booked back to back, you can’t connect with customers in the same way, you can’t connect with your colleagues in the same way and trust cannot be built so easily.

Let’s go over those problems and either put them to bed by reassuring you or give you a strategy to deal with them.

So the first challenge was that not everyone works well from home. Well this is certainly true and during Covid 19 it was more difficult because everyone was at home, including the children, which meant concentrating was much harder. But they key to everything is routine and habit. We address the special issues of Lockdown in a separate video so make sure you watch that too if that’s an issue for you. In order to work well from home we need to get into good habits that promote effectiveness and reduce distractions. Ideally you will have a special work area, which is pleasant to be in, not a chore. If you can look out of a window that’s a bonus. When you’re working you should be there. When you’re not working you should be elsewhere. The brain is very good at associating locations with practices. It’s what many authors have special writing huts, their brain goes into creative mode automatically as it associates the place with the activity. The second tip is that you should keep to your normal hours as much as you can, whatever they are for you. You should also aim to not roll out of bed and straight into work, though this is entirely possible for some people who work from home. If you can establish a morning routine that takes place before you settle at your desk then you will perform more effectively. Suggestions are to have a drink and eat some breakfast. Getting some food in raises your blood sugar level and makes your brain perform better. Also fresh air is a wonderful way of waking up properly. You don’t have to have a dog to go for a walk, you don’t even have to go for a walk. You could drink a coffee in the garden, or even just sit at an open window, or door, and breathe in the fresh air while having your coffee or breakfast. It’s important to be alert when you start work and these small activities will help you start on a high that you can continue, rather than having to work up to your high performance.

Also, it must be said that not everyone has to work from home to be part of an online team. Hot desking or working in different spaces is entirely possible. I know someone who works best in coffee shops with a bit of background noise. This might not work if you have to make a lot of phone calls but look around, try different spaces, see what works for you.

A practise that works very well for me is to set my goals for the day - 3 goals. Things that I absolutely want done and will get done. These 3 goals are non-negotiable so should be completely controllable by you and completely achievable. Don’t set a goal that depends on anyone else in any way, like speak to Bob about X’ because Bob might not be available, he might not have speaking with you as a priority today, he might be in meetings all day. Instead say ‘write report for X’, email Bob re scheduling a conversation about Y, plan Z.

In terms of maintaining effectiveness at home, the way I find best to work is to break my days into pomodoro sessions, so that is working at my laptop for 3/4 hour then getting up and doing something else. So that might be making a call, or breathing in some fresh air, or making a cup of tea, or hanging up the washing, whatever. As long as your little break remains short - say 10 - 15 minutes, rather than any longer. Then you get back to your desk and crack on with the work you have to get done. You can get pomodoro timers online so feel free to indulge yourself in a little tech to help you.

Working an effective day helps you relax on an evening. One of the temptations of working from home is to carry on past your usual clocking off time as there is no commute home where you can switch off and no leaving the office as a cue for the end of work. Remember the brain’s association with place for activities. If you know you have worked an effective day in your home office, you are more likely to relocate to a relaxing area of your home and actually relax. Leave your laptop where it is and spend proper relaxation time, on your own, with your family, do exercise, hobbies, get out in the garden. But don’t just work all the time, even if it’s in a semi-distracted manner. Your brain and your body need down time form work and that’s as important as working well during your working hours.

The next challenge was that some people need firing up by others, or the presence of others. If that’s the case for you or one of your team then you can buddy people up together. Or you can have a brief daily meeting where everyone joins in order to be fired up together. Near in mind that this practise might interfere with the effectiveness of other team members though. If I have a daily meeting at 9am it would really interfere with my effectiveness as I’ve generally been working for a few hours by then and I’m off and running. Assess what your team need, and then give them it. If some need contact with others to fire up, then pair them up, if others prefer to be left alone then do that.

Which brings me to talk about the working practices terms of desk spaces. There will be many people, who you will classify as extrovert because they chat away in the office and appear to like the presence of others. However, when they work from home they are very happy and achieve much more. These people may well be performing in a way they think they should in the workplace rather than performing in a way that they would if they were listening to their own desires. It’s really important that you talk with your team about how they would prefer to work. You can’t just guess from their past work behaviours. Research in the book Quiet by Susan Cain found that most people like a quiet place to go and work rather than an open plan office in which they can be overheard, their monitors seen and noise levels to be higher. Introducing pods to open plan offices seems to be preferable for many people. So working from home is perhaps preferable for many more than we think.

Okay so the next issue is that zoom meetings can take up too much time and are often booked back to back. I think became an issue because of the newness of everyone working from home with covid 19. Things should settle down a bit and if working remotely is an ongoing situation for many then it will have to settle down, otherwise no work will get done at all. Back to back meetings aren’t a new thing. They have been moaned about for decades. The solution to this is communication and planning. You need to communicate your need for a gap between meetings and you need to communicate your need for some time without any meetings at all in order to get some work done. So the first thing to do is to think about your week in terms of percentages, like we do when we are chunking - please watch our Chunking Time video for more information here. It’s under the Time Management class. When you have worked out how much of your time per week that you need for actual work then plan it in to your diary and show yourself as booked. This will prevent people from booking meetings in those slots and will also - if you don’t take the Mickey and book all day every day in - result in understanding from your colleagues. If you book too much time in it will just annoy people, so be reasonable and cooperative. If certain days always tend to be busy with meetings then don’t book a big slot in the middle of the day for your work.

Another technique you can try is to suggest that you don’t attend some of the meetings that you feel you don’t really add to. Or that you delegate so that you don’t have to attend and you are just sent any notes or minutes from the meeting. If you don’t feel it’s your place to suggest you don’t attend it might be worth your while to watch out Leadership at Every level video course. That will help you see how you can benefit the effectiveness of the whole of the business by leading from wherever you are within it. You don’t have to be in charge to suggest that it might not be most effective for you to attend a meeting.

I’m going to address the last 3 concerns altogether. They were: you can’t connect with customers in the same way, you can’t connect with your colleagues in the same way and trust cannot be built so easily. All of these assumptions have been proven not to be the case during the Covid Lockdown. While face to face may well be ideal, video conferencing has become second nature to us now and is absolutely a great way of building trust and connecting with colleagues and customers alike. Especially if you and/or they are working from home. I find it increases the intimate feel of a 1-2-1 meeting when you are ‘inside’ someone’s home or they are ‘inside’ yours. I like to see a cat or dog or perhaps a family member bobbing about in the background and if they have a nice view they can turn their device round and give you a peek at it. I had a look at the lovely welsh hills last week during a coaching call with a client.

Interestingly, the effect of doing a lot of video calls has been that I no longer feel as though you can connect as closely on just an audio call. So try to video call wherever possible. A lot of people are hung up on what they look like during a call. If this is you then hide your self view if you can, or just position something over that area of the screen so you can’t see yourself. Or, stop worrying about it because the likelihood is that everyone else is looking at themselves too, and not even bothering to look at you.

Okay, with those challenges out of the way, let’s crack on with the proactive things you can do to create a high performing team. One of the first things you need to do is to watch the video entitled What makes a High Performing Team and carry out the associated actions. You then need to have the Expectations Conversation with each individual on your team and afterwards with the team as a whole.

You also need to carry out the DISC exercise with the whole team so you get to understand and appreciate each other’s ways of working. Watch the video together and then have fun assessing each other and getting to know each other better using the model and the actions.

Once you have done those actions then you need to make sure all of your team have a way of working that means they are effective and contributing to the pushing of the cart instead of contributing to the weight of the cart that others need to push along. A way that works for me and for many of our clients who we have coached to greater effectiveness is through Chunking and Stepping Stone Goals. Both of these are explored under the Time Management section so get everyone to watch these videos and plan their work accordingly. People try and use excuses all the time about it not working for them to work like that, but it does work, and people need to be accountable. What they’re trying to do is avoid being accountable. So the next item on your to do list for creating a high performance team is to ensure that they adopt this system and that they report in to you in every weekly meeting on the progress towards their stepping stone goals - which should always be completed - and their progress towards larger goals. Again we go into this goal system in our Time Management class so check out the video on that.

Creating a high performance team takes work and a lot of effort. It won’t happen over night, nor will it happen if you just leave it and expect it to happen. You have to make it happen by doing the things we have suggested here and by following up on them, creating accountability of each member towards the whole team and its shared purpose.

Now it’s time to go and do it. So the first thing you should be doing is watching the ‘What makes a High Performing Team’ video, if you haven’t already done so and carry out those actions. Enjoy it. It’s hard work but it’s worth it. And it doesn’t all have to be done today. Just chip away at it, day by day get a small action done. Get your team doing it too and you’ll very soon reap the benefits.

Common Types of Team Conflict & Actions

In this video we’re going to explore some common types of team conflict and what can be done about it. By the end of this video you will have a checklist that you can use for troubleshooting, you will feel much more equipped to deal with anything that occurs and you will be in a better position to nip any issues in the bud before they end up with HR or further up the leadership ladder.

Teams involve many people and many different types of people, all operating under varying degrees of stresses and all subject to their own personal stresses too. So it’s inevitable that at some point there will be issues that need dealing with. It’s far better to deal with issues as soon as they arise rather than letting them fester and really get in the way of the effectiveness of a group. Issues that affect only a couple of individuals within a team can soon become issues affecting the whole group when they get out of hand or start affecting work quality.

So, what are the main kinds of issues that affect teams. Well the first one is Conflict over positions, strategies or opinions - . I see this all the time, especially when someone has been promoted from within a team to be the team leader. In order to deal with conflict over positions the leader must work hard to make sure that each team member feels valued and important. If a colleague has been promoted to a position someone else felt they deserved then their self esteem is going to be dented, their ego hurt. They will be questioning how much people value them. It’s important that you make them feel valued and important, that their wisdom and experience are appreciated and that, if you are the newly promoted leader, you don’t lord it over them that you are now elevated by rank. Imagine what it would feel like to be in their shoes and make sure that you ask their opinion, and seek their collaboration where possible. If you can put them in charge of a project that has kudos attached to it, rather than leading it yourself perhaps, you can instantly do wonders to restoring their injured pride.

If the conflict is over strategies or opinions then it’s important that each person feels heard. Conflict often arises because one person feels that they’re not being listened to. A great strategy to deal with this is to ask each person to share their opinion openly with absolutely no one interrupting them. Even when they fall silent it’s good to give longer as what I find is that after a couple of minutes they will start again and rehash something they might have worded unclearly earlier. A way of giving each person enough time is to put a time on it. So perhaps Bob and Jane each have 15 minutes to speak about their idea or their opinion and say why they think it should be done this way. Often people talk themselves round to one way of thinking or another by doing this and it requires no other input from the leader.

Another issue that arises often is Mistrust. This can arise as a result of something in the past, or as a result of some poor communication. When individuals enter a conversation with each other determined to see or hear certain behaviours (so for example aggression or lack of parity) they can generally find it. We search for behaviours that support our hypothesis and ignore those that don’t. In this case it might be a good idea to appoint a process observer (you or HR or perhaps a team member from another team who has no connection) who can act as a facilitator and the meeting if necessary to refocus the group. This is a good way of dealing with mistrust there and then as it gets the job done, but this issue needs dealing with at a deeper level in the longer term. If two people mistrust each other then we need to strip away the reasons for that in order to move forwards as a team. A leader should speak with each individual in private about how important it is for the whole team that everyone works together and that lack of respect for each person within the team will not be tolerated. They should then initiate a series of connections between the two that are intended to bring them back together. Getting each of them to ask and answer a series of questions about their personal life is a great way of re-establishing the humanity of each other again. Often we lose sight of that when we dislike someone. They become a ball of unpleasant associations and feelings instead of a person with kids and a dog, who likes to play cricket. I would give them questions like:

What was your favourite subject at school?

Why was it that one?

Who was your best teacher?

Tell me about your children? Or your pets?

What’s the thing you’re most interested in outside of work?

I would then make sure that they asked follow up questions to each other, such as, ‘what do you mean by that?’ Or ‘tell me more about that’ in order to get the person really chatting about themselves. The questioner here isn’t allowed to talk about themselves at all during this process. They could have 30 minutes each doing this. The time will fly and they will be able to see each other as a person once more. This technique that we use is called the Communication Ladder and it’s on a video under communication in Quarterdeck Online. Make sure you check it out. It’s a great skill to have and can get you out of all sorts of tricky situations.

The next issue that can cause problems in a team is Personality clashes. As with the issue we just spoke about the Communication Ladder works wonders here. Most people are nice people if you spend enough time getting to know them. If you work in a team you can’t just say ‘Oh we don’t get along, it’s a personality clash’. That’s unacceptable. It’s your job to make sure you get along with everyone and that you make whatever efforts are required to do that. If you don’t then it’s lazy and selfish. What might help is if you work through the DISC video with your team so that you can make sure people understand each other better. It’s a great way of having a laugh about how we behave as well as highlighting how we are all different from each other and that’s okay.

The final category of issues that you are likely to come across as a team leader is the person who is all about their own Personal Agenda. For a start we all need to accept that deep down we all have our own personal agendas. That’s okay. Well all need to look after urselves and your family as a priority. We shouldn’t be offended by that as a team leader or business leader. Many business owners expect their people to care as they do about their business but, in all honesty, why would they, and why should they? If you accept this and find a win-win then we all should be able to work together in harmony. This is why commission and profit sharing work so well. People are will ing to work hard if they are going to reap some rewards for it. They’re not so willing to miss birthday parties and special days with loved ones if they’re not. It’s completely understandable.

This shouldn’t be an issue if you promote transparency of goals within the team, individual goals and team goals. Individual goals should never be at the expense of someone else’s goals or happiness and should always, if possible, contribute to the team goal.

So, if someone on your team has the goal of retiring early, that’s great. How can we help you do that? Well if it’s about money we can employ a commission or bonus scheme that means that that is more likely. If we all work hard and achieve this so it can be sold to more customers then we all win. As the leader, work hard to find a win -win. And you don’t have to do this in a secretive way. Be upfront. Say let’s find a win-win. I want to support you in your goals. How can we all win from this so we all work hard towards it.

However, if the team member is determined only to focus on their own goals to the detriment of the team then they may need to be removed. Leadership is about making tough decisions and having tough conversations, not just about having a vision and pursuing goals so be willing to remove a member of the team if needed.

So they are the most common types of team disfunction that you will come across. If you know of any more and want us to speak about them please send them in and we’ll get back to you with our advice as well as add them into the video for everyone to benefit from.

Remember that your success in life is likely to be measured by the number of hard conversations you’re willing to have. Dealing with issues in the team earlier rather than later means these conversations will be easier for you and them and they will also set the tone for all the other team members who see you setting boundaries and standards that must be adhered to. It’s not mean, it’s clear.

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