Communication is a cornerstone of how well teams interact, perform, and ultimately, produce results. High-Performance teams are aware that perceptions are often based on past experiences and can vary from person to person. They can also get in the way of communication. However, high-performance teams can learn to use verbal and non-verbal communication and active listening skills to avoid misunderstandings and loss of productivity in a team environment.

Communication within teams can be a complicated process. Often, it is difficult to put internal perceptions, feelings, and motives into meaning and words. Messages can be misunderstood and misinterpreted due to personal attitudes, feelings, motives, and experiences. Additionally, non-verbal behaviors may communicate a conflicting message then is in contrast to the one that is being verbalized. In a team environment, communication can be difficult, but it is possible with effort and attention.

Active listening is a skill that is evident in High-Performance teams. Listening, the  ability to accurately perceive a message that is conveyed by another – is far more than the exchange of information. When active listening is employed, it creates a safe place for team members to explore ideas and builds confidence and trust within the team.

Active listening involves six steps, including:

  1. Create a safe place by drawing the person out with terms such as “could you explain” or “tell me more” and by acknowledging what is being said
  2. Become actively involved by focusing completely on the speaker, maintaining eye contact, tuning out distractions, and maintaining an open and relaxed posture
  3. Avoid the temptation to evaluate and resist judging or criticizing
  4. Search for meaning by decoding the message and trying to discover the real message
  5. Confirm understanding with acknowledgment, restating points and paraphrasing the message
  6. Bring closure by summarizing the conversation and agreeing on necessary actions

High-Performance leaders create High-Performance teams by helping them understand their charter, their design, and their relationship. Empowering leaders have a vision and the ability to develop and share it with the entire team. They are driven by a strong motivation and passion for this shared vision.

Additionally, such leaders can establish high levels of rapport and trust among team members. They avoid controlling and coercing team members. Instead, they inspire and induce a high degree of enthusiasm from team members toward meeting the agreed-upon goals.

However, to get to this point, leaders and team members must work through certain processes. The processes that go into building a high-performance team include understanding how teams work, learning good meeting management skills, and clarifying team members’ roles and responsibilities. A system for measuring performance, setting goals and tracking progress must also be in place.

When a team has successfully moved from high potential to High-Performance, three results are visible. They can:

  • Raise their goals to meet new business demands
  • Successfully identify and eliminate the most threatening problems and obstacles
  • Effectively develop and implement action plans to reach established goals