While being able to do it all is often touted as a badge of honor, high-performing teams are the “secret sauce” behind brands including Apple, Disney, Amazon, and Google. When you build a team with specialized but complementary skill sets and create an environment that fosters innovation—the sky’s the limit.

But what sets high-performing and innovative teams apart from the rest? It’s not as simple as hiring the right people, but it’s not complex either. However, it will require strategy and change.

How to Build a High-Performing Team?

Optimizing performance won’t occur overnight. It will require systematic change and ongoing investment in your team. This includes individual and team-wide development. It may consist of partnering with third-party partners for everything from strategic staffing to ongoing skills development, consulting, team building, and more.

The leader assigned to each team is a key component, but every team member is vital for successful innovation.

While personalities and skill sets may vary greatly, high performers often:

  • Feel a shared sense of purpose
  • Are hyper-focused and goal-oriented
  • Are empowered to innovate and share
  • Foster a culture of continuous curiosity
  • Are clear and concise communicators
  • Identify and learn from their mistakes
  • Have diverse personal and professional backgrounds

Now, let’s explore the top 7 traits every productive and innovative team possesses.

7 Traits of High-Performing and Innovative Teams 1

#1 Shared Vision and Purpose

All members of high-performing teams are driven by a shared purpose. Their purpose is often aligned with the company’s vision, values, and mission statement. Or they create secondary team visions and values. They continually refer back to their purpose, ensuring that every decision they make is in alignment. Also, for clarity and direction.

Furthermore, being aware of their “why” optimizes productivity, engagement, and innovation.

#2 Clearly Defined Roles, Responsibilities, and Goals

A high-performing team is a synergistic social entity. Whether short or long-term, the team enthusiastically works towards achieving a common objective. Once their roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, they understand how to accomplish their tasks and why their role is essential.

The team leader or project manager plays a vital role in the team’s success. They set the tone, lead by example, and create a system of accountability that doesn’t stifle innovation—aka. no micromanaging.

This proactive approach minimizes the confusion and conflict that typically hinder productivity and innovation.

#3 Mutual Trust and Respect

Trust and respect are the foundation of any relationship. Therefore, all high-performing team members have mutual trust and respect for each other. This isn’t to suggest that they always agree, but they respect each other’s professional skills and opinions.

When trust and respect are absent, teams have difficulty collaborating on projects and are less likely to share their opinions, thoughts, and ideas. When they do share, they don’t feel heard.

Even if the project goes in a different direction, high-performing team members feel heard and valued.

#4 Effective Communication and Conflict Management

A team that consistently delivers on its innovations is empowered with truly open lines of communication. They know who to call, when to hop on Zoom, when to Email, when to instant message, and when to schedule additional team meetings.

In addition to the communication channels above, they leverage project management technology to simplify collaboration. This ensures that as the project evolves, everyone is on the same page. It also creates a measurable system of accountability.

Even with mutual trust, respect, and open lines of communication conflict will arise. When it does, the team works through it with efficiency. Sometimes high performers work it out one-on-one and sometimes their leader or project manager intervenes to coach and guide them to a swift resolution.

#5 Inclusive Exploration

It’s easy to get so excited about or invested in a project or outcome that we develop blind spots. It can happen to the best of teams. However, it is less likely to happen with high-performing teams. One of the reasons they continually excel, is that they are adept at considering all of the information and options at every stage of development.

7 Traits of High-Performing and Innovative Teams

Inclusive thinking is easiest when the team has diversity in ethnicity, age, and personal and professional experiences. According to Harvard Business Review, organizations and leaders with inclusivity are:

  • 17% more likely to report that they are high performing
  • 20% more likely to display informed and effective decisions
  • 29% more likely to display collaborative teamwork

Teams that don’t deliver are more likely to display homogony and a one-track or limited mindset. In our rapidly evolving world, homogony is neither innovative nor sustainable.

#6 Would Rather Play Dominos than Monopoly

While their outcomes are visible internally and externally, their “secret sauce” is often their everyday and mundane habits. High performers are continuously curious. They balance hitting their targets while allowing for strategic risk-taking. They are disappointed by failure and unexpected roadblocks, but they pivot quickly and learn from their mistakes.

Because they view their results as a group effort, they celebrate their small and large wins together—which has the added benefit of establishing and maintaining their connection.

They may strive to achieve awards and accolades but being the biggest and best isn’t their only objective.

#7 They Have an Innovation Program

While brainstorming and thinking outside of the box are required for innovation, so is a proven strategy. For this reason, many organizations create in-house innovation programs that utilize technology and best practices to:

  • Gather the data, tools, and support required for success.
  • Create a crystal-clear profile of who their end-user is and what their pain points are.
  • Clarify budget, resources, job duties, and deadlines.
  • Ensure communication, transparency, and accountability.

Looking to Optimize Your Innovation Program?

Every project is unique, and many require leveraging external subject-matter experts for everything from market research to third-party data and developing or optimizing your innovation program.

We are often too close to see our areas of opportunity clearly. If you would like to have your program assessed or refined, we invite you to reach out to IdeaScale. Our solutions will streamline, simplify, and supercharge your innovation program!

While being able to do it all is often touted as a badge of honor, high-performing teams are the “secret sauce” behind brands including Apple, Disney, Amazon, and Google. When you build a team with specialized but complementary skill sets and create an environment that fosters innovation—the sky’s the limit.

But what sets high-performing and innovative teams apart from the rest? It’s not as simple as hiring the right people, but it’s not complex either. However, it will require strategy and change.

How to Build a High-Performing Team?

Optimizing performance won’t occur overnight. It will require systematic change and ongoing investment in your team. This includes individual and team-wide development. It may consist of partnering with third-party partners for everything from strategic staffing to ongoing skills development, consulting, team building, and more.

The leader assigned to each team is a key component, but every team member is vital for successful innovation.

While personalities and skill sets may vary greatly, high performers often:

  • Feel a shared sense of purpose
  • Are hyper-focused and goal-oriented
  • Are empowered to innovate and share
  • Foster a culture of continuous curiosity
  • Are clear and concise communicators
  • Identify and learn from their mistakes
  • Have diverse personal and professional backgrounds

Now, let’s explore the top 7 traits every productive and innovative team possesses.

7 Traits of High-Performing and Innovative Teams 1

#1 Shared Vision and Purpose

All members of high-performing teams are driven by a shared purpose. Their purpose is often aligned with the company’s vision, values, and mission statement. Or they create secondary team visions and values. They continually refer back to their purpose, ensuring that every decision they make is in alignment. Also, for clarity and direction.

Furthermore, being aware of their “why” optimizes productivity, engagement, and innovation.

#2 Clearly Defined Roles, Responsibilities, and Goals

A high-performing team is a synergistic social entity. Whether short or long-term, the team enthusiastically works towards achieving a common objective. Once their roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, they understand how to accomplish their tasks and why their role is essential.

The team leader or project manager plays a vital role in the team’s success. They set the tone, lead by example, and create a system of accountability that doesn’t stifle innovation—aka. no micromanaging.

This proactive approach minimizes the confusion and conflict that typically hinder productivity and innovation.

#3 Mutual Trust and Respect

Trust and respect are the foundation of any relationship. Therefore, all high-performing team members have mutual trust and respect for each other. This isn’t to suggest that they always agree, but they respect each other’s professional skills and opinions.

When trust and respect are absent, teams have difficulty collaborating on projects and are less likely to share their opinions, thoughts, and ideas. When they do share, they don’t feel heard.

Even if the project goes in a different direction, high-performing team members feel heard and valued.

#4 Effective Communication and Conflict Management

A team that consistently delivers on its innovations is empowered with truly open lines of communication. They know who to call, when to hop on Zoom, when to Email, when to instant message, and when to schedule additional team meetings.

In addition to the communication channels above, they leverage project management technology to simplify collaboration. This ensures that as the project evolves, everyone is on the same page. It also creates a measurable system of accountability.

Even with mutual trust, respect, and open lines of communication conflict will arise. When it does, the team works through it with efficiency. Sometimes high performers work it out one-on-one and sometimes their leader or project manager intervenes to coach and guide them to a swift resolution.

#5 Inclusive Exploration

It’s easy to get so excited about or invested in a project or outcome that we develop blind spots. It can happen to the best of teams. However, it is less likely to happen with high-performing teams. One of the reasons they continually excel, is that they are adept at considering all of the information and options at every stage of development.

7 Traits of High-Performing and Innovative Teams

Inclusive thinking is easiest when the team has diversity in ethnicity, age, and personal and professional experiences. According to Harvard Business Review, organizations and leaders with inclusivity are:

  • 17% more likely to report that they are high performing
  • 20% more likely to display informed and effective decisions
  • 29% more likely to display collaborative teamwork

Teams that don’t deliver are more likely to display homogony and a one-track or limited mindset. In our rapidly evolving world, homogony is neither innovative nor sustainable.

#6 Would Rather Play Dominos than Monopoly

While their outcomes are visible internally and externally, their “secret sauce” is often their everyday and mundane habits. High performers are continuously curious. They balance hitting their targets while allowing for strategic risk-taking. They are disappointed by failure and unexpected roadblocks, but they pivot quickly and learn from their mistakes.

Because they view their results as a group effort, they celebrate their small and large wins together—which has the added benefit of establishing and maintaining their connection.

They may strive to achieve awards and accolades but being the biggest and best isn’t their only objective.

#7 They Have an Innovation Program

While brainstorming and thinking outside of the box are required for innovation, so is a proven strategy. For this reason, many organizations create in-house innovation programs that utilize technology and best practices to:

  • Gather the data, tools, and support required for success.
  • Create a crystal-clear profile of who their end-user is and what their pain points are.
  • Clarify budget, resources, job duties, and deadlines.
  • Ensure communication, transparency, and accountability.

Looking to Optimize Your Innovation Program?

Every project is unique, and many require leveraging external subject-matter experts for everything from market research to third-party data and developing or optimizing your innovation program.

We are often too close to see our areas of opportunity clearly. If you would like to have your program assessed or refined, we invite you to reach out to IdeaScale. Our solutions will streamline, simplify, and supercharge your innovation program!

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