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Top 10 tips to developing a high-performing team

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1. Know them: Have one-to-one conversations early on with each member of your team. Understand what is going on in each person’s life. You can then be generous when it matters most – for example, giving slack in a crisis or on a child’s birthday. That can mean more than a pay rise.

2. Know their world: Know your team members’ names, and their family members’ names. Invite them to a family day. Dedication to the project comes not only from the person you hired, but from those who support them. 

3. Enable them to know each other: Help the team create strong relationships. Find regular excuses to pull people together: staff coffee, birthday cake, a team meal or celebrating a project milestone. 

4. Start the day connected: If you are co-located with some of your team, spend the first 15 minutes of each day going desk to desk saying good morning and checking in. You’ll be amazed at the number of concerns you would not otherwise have heard and the stresses you can relieve. Those things save significant time and money. 

5. Serve the team: If you are always leading from the front, you may turn around and find no one is following. Give clear board goals, then create an environment for the team to collaborate. This allows talent and experience to be utilised to the full. Ask open questions much more frequently than you instruct. 

6. Humility: If you think you can do their job better, you’ll end up doing it. Your role is to facilitate them to excel.

7. Encouragement: Go out of your way to thank people when they are doing a good job; it builds a happy, confident team. Deal with issues and failures quietly; that builds trust and loyalty.

8. Connect your team upwards: When a more senior person than you is around, always introduce them to team members. Don’t meet them alone; instead, show off your team. Get the senior person to buy the team a meal if you can. Group success breeds sustainable business. 

9. Transitions: When someone leaves the project team, be ready to fill the gaps. When someone joins the team, be ready to be a connector for them. Transitions can derail a well-oiled machine, so be ready to jump in on these occasions. 

10. Value difference: A small, effective team will understand and value team members’ individual skills, experience and background. Higher-performing project teams are made up of people from diverse backgrounds. This is because diversity avoids a ‘groupthink’ mentality.


This article originally featured in the Spring 2017 edition of Project journal.


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