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3 myths of high-performing teams

April 18, 2017 / Employee Wellbeing Best Practices

You know those teams every leader wants? The ones that just seem to thrum with life and laughter, while also getting the job done in spectacular fashion?

These collectives can bring magic and results to their organization. Yet what it takes to build high-performance teams, who smash it out of the ballpark every time, can often be open to misinterpretation. Especially here in the US, where competition and individualism are core values.

These characteristics have their place, but it’s actually not in a high performing team.

high-performance-teamsHere, we bust some common myths that may be holding your employees back from getting brilliant results.

Myth – Senior leaders should always be involved

No. In fact, a 2016 report issued by The Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at Berkeley found that power actually undermines collaborative performance. “Individuals with higher power who worked together in groups were less likely to reach agreement on a difficult negotiation task,” the report summarizes, before adding: “Analyses suggest that groups of high power individuals performed worse because they fought over their relative status in the group, were less focused on the task, and shared information with each other less effectively.”

Know when to delegate on projects and trust that the talents of the employees involved will match, if not exceed, their seniority.

Myth – Skill trumps motivation

Intrinsic motivation is what fundamentally drives us as humans, according to career analyst Daniel Pink.

We know what makes us tick and what makes us happy. So savvy team builders should allow space for employees to map their innate strengths onto wider project demands, not always the other way around.

That way, when challenges inevitably arise, the will – and confidence – to overcome them is there.

Myth – Competition among team members will achieve the best outcome

Competition is the antithesis of collaboration. And findings from a controlled study of employees at Amazon’s crowd-sourcing website, Mechanical Turk, showed that fostering internal competition can seriously threaten the productivity and effectiveness of both teams and individuals.

The researcher Iwan Barankay, a management professor at the University of Pennsylvania, concluded: “Many managers think that giving workers feedback about their performance relative to their peers inspires them to become more competitive …. but in fact, the opposite happens. Workers can become complacent and de-motivated. People who rank highly think, ‘I am already number one, so why try harder?’ People who are far behind can become depressed about their work and give up.”

Make the most of each team member’s unique, individual talents and remember: great individuals don’t make an organization – great teams do.

Read more on the power of people, download our whitepaper Social Connections and Wellbeing.

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