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9 Characteristics of High-Performing Project Teams

Have you ever wondered what sets apart the teams that work well together to achieve extraordinary results? Here are some insights from the perspective of a winning team.

  1. Our leaders are unified in their message. Our team knows they are working collaboratively and are cohesive. If they’re not, the remainder of these characteristics will not work. Leadership starts at the top. If we aren’t aligned with our bosses, we take it upon ourselves to make that happen. We’ve learned to ask good questions about the strategy they want us to execute upon. Then we do whatever is in our power to execute those goals.

  2. Trust and relationships are a foundational, critical link. Our leader must be vulnerable and open to feedback, and must model this behavior to our team. All members must hold each other accountable. How many times have your biases gotten in the way of giving someone a chance? We need to be understood and appreciated. We are curious and vulnerable, and we have learned to hold back our judgment in order to build relationships. We realize we don’t have to be friends with everyone, just respect the diversity and each person’s unique perspective and value to the team.

  3. Our group is galvanized around a common purpose. This answers why we are here, and why we are focused on our mission. The leader creating this purpose must state the outcome they are 100% committed to, and it must be credible.

  4. We are clear about our roles, accountability and authority. The people who are accountable are given enough authority to do certain tasks, own specific pieces of the outcome, and know clearly they are to deliver results. There is no grey area; everyone is crystal clear on who does what, to whom and when.

  5. We handle conflict. Issues are debated in a safe environment and trust, with ground rules that make it safe. We understand that team members must weigh in to buy in, and we remember that consensus is not commitment. We passionately arrive at commitment through debate, and we are always in service of the best answer. Because we trust the intentions of our teammates, we can deal with lots of productive conflict.

  6. We deliver results. This is why we exist: to do the work, and deliver results to the organization. Nothing else matters if this does not happen.

  7. Our effective processes create structure. Whether we call them our playbook, steps, score sheet, or metrics; our processes help us solve problems, make decisions, and even run meetings more effectively.

  8. We communicate well. A team cannot move faster than it communicates. Straight talk is essential. We know and plan for a disproportionate time to be spent on planning and communicating the plan. Much effort goes into this because everyone on the team must know their job and how it fits into the whole. The leader, in particular, must over-communicate!

  9. We have stakeholder alignment. We ensure that the group receiving our work is happy. As a service-minded team, we can correct faster and deliver superior customer satisfaction. As leaders, we save ourselves wasted work by getting alignment and buy-in up front, checking in periodically, and closing the loop after delivery of the project. It is a closed loop.

Does your team demonstrate these characteristics? Which ones do you need to work on the most? Please add your comment below, or share with me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or email.


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