“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships” – Michael Jordan 

When learning about Agile methods, the different methods of communications used by teams will be covered. These include sprint planning, daily stand up meetings and retrospectives. Communication is a critical component of the decision making process for teams, and plays a significant role in achieving effective performance as well as efficient teamwork. However, in order to achieve a sophisticated level of communication, the team environment needs to be (desirable). Therefore, it is just as important to focus on team development and finding ways to create a high performing team.

But firstly, we should ask ourselves, what does it mean to be a high performing team? What does a high performing team look like?

According to The Society for Human Resource Management, these points are what distinguishes high performing teams:

  • Team members are thoroughly committed to the team and the purpose of the mission
  • Performance goals are usually more ambitious than standard teams
  • Responsibilities of each member, in terms of the team and individual obligations, are clearly outlined and shared with a sense of mutual accountability
  • There is a diverse range of expertise among the team to complement the abilities of each member
  • There is a level of interdependence and trust between the team members

When putting teams together, a report published by McKinsey (2017) suggests that rather than focusing on the size of the team, it is more valuable to consider the skills and attitude that each team member has to offer. This is a good strategy to ensure that team members are able to; recognise opportunities for improvement, be able to serve as a good role model and value being a team player over achieving individual success.


“True teamwork demands a level of bonding at deeper levels. That requires intentional effort to build” – Caryn Davies

As an olympic gold medalist and former world champion rower, attorney Caryn Davies highlights the importance of interdependence in both sports and the workplace. This also means sustaining equal standing, where collective success is valued over individual success. Davies outlines that in rowing, the act of one person trying to win the race alone will create a disconnect within the team, making the boat go slower and leading to burnout.

The report published by McKinsey further explores the question, what makes a team of all stars different to an all star team? Based on the experience of over 5,000 executives, these are the key dimensions of great teamwork that was consistently found:

  • Direction: shared belief about what the company is striving toward and the role of the team in getting there
  • High Quality Interaction: characterised by trust, open communication and a willingness to embrace conflict
  • Strong Sense of Renewal: an energised team environment formed by the ability to take risks, innovate, learn from outside ideas and achieve something that matters

There is also a need for a diverse team, in terms of age, ethnicity and gender. Like any other team, individuals will need to value the differing perspectives to achieve meaningful contribution and increased productivity and creativity. A diversity report published by McKinsey (2020) found that companies with a greater representation in gender, ethnic and cultural diversity were more likely to outperform less diverse companies.

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To understand how teams are developed, there are several different models that have been developed to facilitate this process. These models can be used in workplace situations to help achieve better team performance and productivity.

→ Tuckman’s Model 

Developed by psychologist Bruce Tuckman, this model follows the process of team coherence and development. Picture a ladder, where each step represents the 5 different stages of the Tuckman’s model, and how teams progress up to the next stage.

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  1. Forming 

Starting with an unfamiliar group of individuals, the team may find themselves depending on the leader to outline the individual roles and responsibilities, as well as the team dynamics.

Consider this a ‘getting to know each other’ stage.

2. Storming 

At this stage, minor conflicts may start to arise amongst team members. This may be caused by a lack of agreement in group decision making, a clash in working styles and uncertainty surrounding the team’s purpose.

Consider this the ‘first fight with your partner’ stage.

3. Norming 

Once initial disagreements have been acknowledged, the team may move on to refining the overall working style and increasingly establish a respect for the leaders and each individual’s responsibilities. Team members may also start to provide each other with constructive feedback that is valuable for achieving unified goals.

4. Performing

Now that the team has been working together for some time and have found a productive and efficient flow of working, and team performance is at its best. The leader’s role as a mediator slowly becomes less frequent as conflicts are resolved more efficiently. Team members are self reliant and look out for each other, creating a positive harmony within the working environment.

5. Adjourning 

Once the team’s purpose has been fulfilled and tasks have been successfully completed, the team will then dissolve. Team members may find this stage particularly difficult if they have created close bonds with other members.

Keen to step up in your team leadership skills? Enrol in our Advanced Project Management course https://pmcoe.com.au

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