What are the key elements of high performing teams?

Monday, 5 August 2013  Features

Associate Professor Julie Cogin discussed the topic of high performing teams at our new casual mid-day lecture series, Learn@lunch. Held at our AGSM campus in the heart of the city CBD, this event proved to be excellent 'brain food' for our alumni who work in the centre of Sydney.

Teams have become the predominant unit for decision making for most modern organisations, and are the means by which most organisations achieve its goals.

Professor Cogin explained that teams can solve complex problems and generate creative solutions better than the sum of its individuals. Despite the benefits of high performing teams being well known, most teams, however, do not fully realise these benefits.

Professor Cogin discussed some of the most common pitfalls that see teams fail to reach their potential. Accountability is difficult to achieve within teams and it can be challenging to get all group members working at same level.

There is also a risk that teams actually inhibit creativity through the phenomena of 'group think'. This risk can be mitigated by ensuring that team members do not get preoccupied with cohesion and harmony but instead are focussed on challenging and pushing each other to think outside the square.

Professor Cogin said the best performing teams have a strong learning orientation. Reflection phases are built into all projects - meaning high performing teams do not just move quickly on from one project to the next, but are instead constantly striving to do better.

'Teams are only as strong as the weakest link' and a crucial aspect of the best teams is the attributes of its individuals - their knowledge, skills as well as their motivation and willingness to be part of the team.