Any group of people can be brought together and put into a team. They might work hard, but will they achieve business goals, deliver results, and outperform all other similar teams? Possibly, or possibly not.

How about a team that consistently hits targets, delivers business goals, has higher productivity and faster response times? These are high-performance teams, and to generate these results five essential elements need to be in place, but the rewards are significant. According to a Gallup survey, workplaces that adopt the high-performance team structure see a 21% jump in profitability, 21% increase in productivity, 65% reduction in staff turnover, and 15% increase in customer satisfaction ratings.

“Wearing the same shirts doesn’t make a team.” – Buchholz and Roth

1. Self-generated commitment

Imagine learning a new skill that is essential for your role. You undertake full responsibility for your learning and mastering of the new skill. Likewise, in a high-performance team, each team member should feel that they have ownership and control over all decisions, processes, and activities that are made in the team, and that ultimately affect their day-to-day tasks and responsibilities.

2. Conflict leading to creativity

You may be thinking to yourself – positive conflict? Can there be such a thing? Well, yes there is, and it is essential for high-performance teams to foster an environment that embraces positive conflict. However, the key is to properly manage conflict so that the outcome is creative solutions for problems.

3. Group consensus

Similar to positive conflict, is the idea of group consensus. The group majority does not have the overall say, and individual opinions are not overruled. If there are nine in a team, and five want to implement a new process and four do not, the majority does not rule. How to resolve this? See point 2: positive conflict.

4. Collaboration and communication

Clear communication provides the foundation for the first three characteristics, and very little can be achieved without it. Issues like hoarding information, unwillingness to accept negative feedback, and lack of cooperation will undermine all previous principles.

5. Empowerment

Empowerment has two elements for high-performance teams. Firstly, the organization empowers and supports the team as a whole. Secondly, the team empowers its members. Key elements of this condition are that leadership and responsibilities must be shared. Everyone must share the same vision, if not…allow positive conflict to commence!


While the introduction of high-performance teams can be daunting to implement, the benefits are far reaching, not only for increased profit and productivity but also for team morale and employee retention. However, the organization must support the removal of structural barriers,  and the high-performance team must become accustomed to non-hierarchical management, positive conflict, and always seeking the next challenge.