Building Peak Performance Teams

Create synergy, sparks and a sense of purpose among divergent team members.

Even if you are not a racing fan, there is something exhilarating—almost magical—about seeing a car fly into a pit in a blaze of color as crew members in fire-retardant suits work at breakneck speeds to change tires, refuel the tank, replace hoses, make sure the engine is humming, attend to the driver, and—without a wasted motion, amid the incessant roar of engines, in a continuous blur of activity—get the car back into the race.

Peak performance teams bring out exemplary talents in each player, create efficiencies, prepare for eventualities, synchronize activities and operate with a unique single-mindedness of purpose.

Such pit stops can take less than ten seconds. Ultimately, they are where records are won and races lost.

Peak Performance Teams
Businesses, in this tight economy, can learn a lot about building peak performance teams from such pit crews.

Whether companies are large or small, success often depends upon forming a cohesive group out of people who might not necessarily get along together in other situations.

It used to be enough for companies to concentrate on simply hiring the best people for each position. But that alone is no longer enough to stay ahead of the competition in today’s marketplace. Now, the most successful companies are those that can create synergy, sparks and a sense of purpose among divergent team members.

Such companies are able to create environments where managers are keenly aware of their own strengths and limitations, and are able to identify and develop the potential of their staff. These companies have a special fire, a mission, which keeps them pulling in the same direction.

Peak performance teams are able to bring out exemplary talents in each player, create efficiencies, prepare for eventualities, synchronize activities, communicate on the fringes of each other’s abilities and operate with a unique single-mindedness of purpose.

Most managers succeed not because of their talent, knowledge or ability alone, but because they are able to recognize potential in others and turn their staff into a productive team.

Creating peak performance teams is what separates the best companies from the rest. But team building is not a discrete event. It is a continuing, unfolding process. Most managers succeed not because of their talent, knowledge or ability alone, but because they are able to recognize potential in others and turn their staff into a productive team.

Team building is not a quick, one-shot approach. Rather, it is a continuous, evolving process, which, in order to be effective, starts with a clear vision of the team’s goals and a well-defined strategy on how to attain those goals.

A team must be viewed as a totality, not as separate elements. Every team has particular strengths and weaknesses.

Developing Your Team
Regardless of the nature of the business or the size of the company, peak performance teams typically share a number of common characteristics:

  • They have a unified understanding and vision of the company’s goals, objectives and future.
  • Each team member is keenly aware of his or her own skills, precise role and value to the team, as well as those of all the other team members.
  • Members of the team derive as much satisfaction from the performance and achievements of others as they do from their attaining their own milestones.
  • Communication among team members is open, informal and ongoing.

There are, of course, many tools available to help management move a team forward. Attitude studies, valid psychological tests, employee productivity workshops and team building activities are just a few approaches worth considering. Which of these activities might be appropriate depends on an understanding of what gaps exist between where the team is and where it could be.

The touchstones for developing a peak performance team are: having insights into the strengths, limitations and potential of each team member, starting with the leader; developing a clear understanding of the chemistry among team members; unraveling possible areas of conflict; and knowing how the team fits in with the company’s overall goals.

The most successful companies share one thing: An emphasis on creating new, more effective ways for empowering people to collaborate. Only with such a commitment can companies in today’s welding and specialty gases marketplace keep ahead of the competition and move toward reaching goals and realizing visions.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association

Herb Greenberg Meet the Author
Herbert M. Greenberg, Ph.D., is president and CEO of Caliper, a human resources consulting firm located in Princeton, New Jersey, and on the Web at www.calipercorp.com.