The power of high performing teams

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What isthe ‘secret’ofhighperforming teams? How come thatsome teamsperform much betterthan others?How do you recognizesuch teams? How does your team become an highperforming team? Teamsareableto reach certain goals. Whether it isabout teams incommercial organizations, public organizations or about teams in sports:coordination, cooperation,aclearpurpose andcourageare requiredto achieveexceptional performance. Research in the public sector among different kind of teams shows that there are six ‘ingredients’ for an high performing team: team-engagement, selfmanagement, purpose driven cooperation, task oriented cooperation, stake holder oriented cooperation, leadership.

High performance starts with asking questions like: 'Who are we, what binds us and wich goals do we want to achieve?'

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The research of dr. Kuipers within the public sector led to six ingredients which distinguish ordinary teams from high performance teams. All six characteristics contribute to the effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy of the team. Teams within the public sector work in the tension between on one hand achieving results in an efficient and effective way, and on the other hand bureaucratic accountability. This is the same for high performance teams, but they cope with this tension in a different way and they seem to manage this tension well. High performance teams search for different ways to achieve their goals. Between the rules and regulations they seek for openings to reach their goals even if reaching those goals does not seem possible at first sight.

Leadership is also one of the key-ingredients for high performance teams. All leaders of the teams who participated in this project are leaders who stimulate self management. They are leaders who help to create conditions for good team performance. They are all servant to the team. With their style and behavior they influence the team not directly, but they create an environment where all team members feel save to perform. Stimulating, inspiring, giving the right example, standing out for his or her team and actively respond when values of the team are at stake. That is the way that makes people feel valued for their drives and input. This appears to be crucial for realizing high performances.

Why is this so important

Nowadays even at relatively simple tasks within the government, a lot of people are involved. For example in education, where a teacher teaches himself, but in the background a whole team of teachers and educational supportare preparingand taking exams. There are almost no tasks left which can be done alone. You need the whole chain of people to get a good result.In case of more complex tasks, the need for coordination and consultation is growing. This requires a high level of flexibilty, expertise and the ability to cooperate in a team. High performance teams are the perfect example to do this in an eminent


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Dr. Ben Kuipers has a PhD in Management and Organization and is specialized in teamwork, performance management, strategic HRM and organizational change. After his PhD research he focused on his own consulting business (Performability), besides working part-time as assistant professor at the department of Public Administration.

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