How to build a high-performing team – a small business guide

Two people having a high five at work

Success in business looks different to everyone, but one of the most common (and important) ways is knowing you’re responsible for a high-performing team of employees. As well as creating an enjoyable working environment for your employees, high-performing teams can improve the success of your business.

Keep reading to find out more about what makes a high-performing team and how you can help to foster one in your business.

What is a high-performing team?

High-performing teams all have one thing in common: they’re groups of people who work together to achieve a shared result. These teams are constantly meeting targets and setting new records, all because their skills complement one another.

Your team might be made up of people with the same skills and experience working towards a common goal, or a group of people with different skills who round each other out.

For example, a small plumbing business may have one or two qualified plumbers and another person in charge of scheduling jobs and finance. If they all work well together and continue to reach their business goals, they’re a high-performing team.

How to create a high-performing team

Not every team of employees will be high-performing. But if you’re hoping to boost the performance of your team and see business growth, you can use the below as a guide to help you get started.

Start at recruitment

Of course, one way to start is at the hiring process. Whether you’re setting up a new business and hiring your first staff members or bringing some new employees on board to help round out your team, it’s important to develop your recruitment process before you begin.

By clearly defining your job roles and organisational structure, you’re setting your employees (and your business) up for success from the start.

Clarify roles and responsibilities

One way to make sure everyone is hitting their targets and helping to grow the business is by identifying both individual and company roles. Having a clear vision statement and mission statement can help you make strategic decisions for your business – such as identifying reasonable targets for your employees to reach.

This can then trickle down to each person’s individual roles and responsibilities. These clear distinctions can help organise workflow to make sure your team’s valuable time is well spent.

Give good feedback

One way to ensure your team continues to perform highly is by giving good feedback. Giving feedback is important as it helps your team know what they’re doing well – and which areas they may need to improve on.

However, it’s important that you give any feedback (both positive and negative) in a constructive way. Don’t just say when someone’s work is good or bad, give thoughtful feedback that can help your team to grow.

When giving feedback, it’s important to remain supportive and objective. If giving negative feedback, offer actionable suggestions on how to improve. And giving clear examples of work done well can be a great way to give positive feedback.

Offer incentives

While not compulsory, offering incentives is a good way to raise spirits, keep your staff motivated, and help your team feel appreciated. This can be anything from an extra day of holiday for the team member who smashes their targets or even a team lunch to celebrate a job well done.

Check out our guide to employee retention strategies to learn more about how incentives and benefits can lead to a high-performing team.

Characteristics of a high-performing team

While every high-performing team looks different, there are a few common characteristics you’ll see across industries:

  • great communicators: teams that consistently perform well have great communication with one another – as well as customers outside the business
  • respect for one another: they say ‘there’s no I in team’, and high-performing teams know this better than most, as they’re respectful of one another’s opinions and expertise
  • diversity: don’t overlook the importance of diversity when building your team, as different perspectives and experiences can help create a new way of working
  • problem solvers: high-performing teams don’t just see problem solving as a necessary part of the job, they actively enjoy it and are constantly looking for ways to innovate
  • effective decision-making: high-performing team members should be skilled and knowledgeable enough in their area to help drive effective decision-making in the business
  • a good working environment: this looks different to everyone, so make sure to take flexible working into account – you may see some positive changes in your business outputs
  • positive atmosphere: it’s not just the working environment of a business that’s important, but the atmosphere amongst colleagues too

High-performing team model

Teams come in all shapes and sizes, but there are a few tried and tested models you can base your team structure on. Some examples include:

  • GRPI model: standing for goals, roles, procedures, and interpersonal relationships, this team model creates visibility and accountability for each team member’s responsibilities
  • T7 model: this model believes the seven things which influence a team’s performance are thrust, trust, talent, teaming skills, task skills, team leadership, and team support
  • Google model: one of the most successful companies in the world, Google believes that psychological safety, dependability, structure and clarity, meaningful work, and impact of work are what help to create high-performing teams

How to develop a high-performing team

Even if you have a high-performing team already, there’s always room to grow. Having regular check-ins with your team can help identify areas to develop as a business. You can recognise learning opportunities – or maybe your employee has a few ideas of their own – and ways to streamline processes.

Some ideas to help develop your team’s skills include:

  • courses
  • e-learning
  • mentoring (both internally and externally)
  • personalised development plans
  • creating accountability
  • understanding individual working styles

High-performing team quotes

If you’re looking for some motivation for your team, check out some of these quotes to inspire high-performing teams:

  1. “To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace” – Doug Conant, businessman and author
  2. “No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team” – Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn
  3. “Great things in business are never done by one person; they’re done by a team of people” – Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple
  4. “Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life” – Amy Poehler, actress, comedian, writer, producer, and director
  5. “Success is best when it’s shared”- Howard Schultz, businessman and author

How have you helped to build a high-performing team in your business? Let us know in the comments below.

More guides for managing employees in a small business

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Photo: Jacob Lund/stock.adobe.com

Rosanna Parrish

Rosanna Parrish is a Copywriter at Simply Business specialising in side hustles – as well as all things freelance, social media, and ecommerce. She’s been writing professionally for nine years. Starting her career in health insurance, she also worked in education marketing before returning to the insurance world.

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