Peak Performing Teams

Robert Cooper, in his new book Get Out of Your Own Way, mentions his research into peak performing teams. "We've been asking what distinguishes the best teams from all the others during times of wrenching change and rampant uncertainty. ... exceptional individuals ... embrace each other's uniqueness and are far better at racing their own race together." They found six key factors:

  1. This is the work that I'm best at...
  2. These are my values...
  3. This is what energizes me...
  4. This is what I need in order to learn and work at my best...
  5. These are the results I can be expected to deliver...
  6. This is what I need to feel genuinely respected and recognized...
1. What are you best at?

What are your key skills and abilities? What talents do you possess that no one else on your team possesses? If you or your team members aren't spending your time using your best abilities, then your team won't be as successful as possible.

I have found that I'm good at synthesizing information and extracting the essence, boiling it down to the key concepts, then packaging it into information products. I can get an idea and create a prototype of the product or service in a very short time. I'm a heck of a problem solver because I take the time to understand the problem before trying to solve it. I'm also really good at helping people debug their mental software.

What are you best at?

2. What are your values?

What's most important to you:

  • People - relating (friends, family, coworkers)
  • Places - being
  • Knowledge - learning
  • Activities - doing
  • Things - getting/having (life style)

If you don't like people and relating, being on a team may be difficult.

I'm really good at learning and doing, but sometimes I spend a morning coding software and I get "Spock brain": all logic and minimal relationships. I have to stretch to relate to people.

What are your values?

3. What energizes you?

I love getting things done. I love writing and creating new products. Richard Bach wrote: "The more I want to get something done, the less I call it work." I have found that when I'm energized by what I'm doing, I know I'm on the right path. When what I'm doing drains me, I've learned to suspect that I'm off course.

What recharges you? What drains you? Find a way to do more of the former and delegate the latter.

4. What do you need to learn and work at your very best?

I find that I do my most creative work in the morning. To do that work, I usually need a quiet place to work without interruption. I've learned that I'm a problem solving junkie. Ask me a question about a problem and I'll jump on it, but after solving a problem I find it hard to get back to being creative. So I've learned to create in the morning and problem solve in the afternoon.

What do you need to learn and work at your best? Are you a:

  • Leader or a Follower?
  • Achiever or Problem Solver?
  • Innovator or Processor?
  • Doer or Thinker?
  • Revolutionary, Evolutionary, or Traditionalist?

Some people think there's something wrong with being a procedural follower, but there isn't. All businesses make money by following procedures. If you're good at it you free up the creative leaders to find the path to the next new market or product. Remember, followers are a key part of the organization, even if it they aren't often recognized.

Headstrong leaders can drag a corporation over a cliff. Think Enron or Worldcom.

What do you need to learn and work at your best?

5. What results can you deliver?

I know that I work fast. I focus on the 4% of the task that will deliver 50% of the results. There's a Far Side cartoon I love of a dinosaur looking at a monthly daytimer; every day says the same thing: "Kill something. Eat it." That pretty much sums up my approach to business. Using the rapid prototyping skills I learned as a software developer, I can create a working prototype of a product, service, marketing brochure or whatever in a very short time frame. Then it's easy to get feedback and improve it to get the results I want.

What results can you deliver?

6. How do you know you've done a good job?

From my research into motivation styles, I know that there are two answers to this question: 1) I just know, or 2) people tell me. Leaders decide for themselves and Followers have to find out from other people. Unfortunately, leaders don't understand why followers need feedback, because they don't need it themselves.

Do you need feedback from coworkers, boss, or employees? Do you need feedback from your spouse or children? Do you need recognition from your industry? Do they know that you need this? Have you asked them to give you this feedback?

Or do you look at your work and just know you've done a good job?

I know from my own experience that I've got both of these strategies at work in two different contexts. When it comes to doing a good job on creating new products, I just know that I've gotten a good idea and turned it into a viable product. But then comes marketing and sales, where I look to customers to tell me if I've hit the mark or if I need to improve or change the product in some way.

How do you know you've done a good job?

Challenge Your Team

These six factors and questions might be a useful starting point to create a dialog between your team members about their abilities and proclivities. It might also point out what's missing from your team as it currently exists.

Take a little time to debug and upgrade your team's mental software. You'll be glad you did.

Rights to reprint this article in company periodicals is freely given with the inclusion of the following tag line: "© 2008-2024 Jay Arthur, the KnowWare® Man, 888-468-1537, ."