Creating high performing teams does not happen overnight, but it is something that can be achieved relatively quickly with the right approach and recognising the talent you have in your organisation.  The mix of personalities and the culture created by senior staff will have the greatest effect.

Why go to the effort to create a high performing team?  Well statistics from KPMG’s recent study  “The Real Value of Engaged Employees” gives us a  very clear illustration of what happens when staff become disengaged:


Disengaged Staff

Engaged Staff

Impact on Company revenue

32.7% decline

19.2% increase

Staff sickness days

6.19% days per year

2.39% days per year

Understanding and delivering a positive customer experience

17% of staff

70% of staff

Increase in staff advocacy for the organisation

13% of staff

78% of staff

Growth in profits

0% increase

17% increase

Staff retention rates

0% increase

87% increase

What is encouraging, if you are currently struggling with disengaged staff, is that it does not take a huge amount of effort to turn these statistics around, but it does take commitment by all involved, especially the senior leadership team.  Those wanting to drive change need to be both genuine and tenacious about wanting to improve the culture of the organisation.  

Changes in attitude and approach by senior staff must be seen as genuine otherwise staff will see through them very quickly, no lip service will be tolerated for long.  Even when the approach is genuine, if it is not the right effort or change model then the results will be lukewarm at best.  Most importantly is that to create a high performing team is NOT a one size fits all approach.




Step 1: Understand the different personalities within the existing team and whether they are best suited to their current role. Use a recognised personality profiling assessment tool such as Talent Dynamics or DISC.  My preference is Talent Dynamics, as people engage with it much more, it is easy to understand and is seen very much as the starting point on a journey of discovery, rather than the result in itself.

Step 2: Assess whether any of the team members are not assigned roles that capitalise on their natural strengths as well as their learned skills.  Anyone who is doing a job that is out of their natural flow will, over time. experience either anxiety or boredom.  We know when we are out of flow when we don’t look forward to doing what we have to do, time goes slowly or we get tired from efforting. 

Talent Dynamics

Step 3: Make any necessary changes, but in a positive way.  Never make an employee feel they are ‘lacking’ from the discovery of their personality.  It is important to help them understand that the assessment is NOT part of their job appraisal and any changes are beneficial to them as well as the company.

Step 4: If there is a need to hire someone to fill a gap, assess which type of personality is required for the role e.g. extravert, big picture thinker who likes to shine the light on a product or service is the best fit for a sales role.  Using Talent Dynamics, this type of personality is called a Star.  When writing the role description, advertisement and interview questions, use the profile attributes as the guide to getting the right type of person for the job.

Step 5: Have a workshop conducted by a trained consultant for the assessment system you have used.  This workshop should be 1/2 to 1 day in length and is primarily to educate the team on the different strengths and challenges of each type of personality.  Make it fun, non-threatening and an opportunity to build trust and camaraderie. 

Step 6: Encourage the new language that is incorporated in a profiling system.  Talk about the strengths of the different personalities in the team and supplement their challenges through allocating tasks that do not fit to others, and vice versa.  Above all ensure that it is understood that no one personality type is better than others, they are just different and suit different situations.

A quote from Albert Einstein has been made famous, which is so true:

If you judge a fish by their ability to climb a tree, they will believe they are stupid all their life” and likewise, if you judged a monkey by their ability to swim like a fish they would fail miserably. 

It is also important to remember that teams need to go through the stages made famous by Psychologist Bruce Tuckman.  These are Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing.  What you want to encourage is moving through the first three stages as quickly as possible to get to Stage 4.  There is a fifth stage which can be Reforming, Adjourning or Mourning, depending on what happens to the team over time.

On top of managing the team as individuals, earning their loyalty is important.  It often doesn’t take a lot to do this but once you have it the rewards at 10-fold.  The key is to understand what are the highest values of each person in the team.  This can be determined by what they like to talk about in social settings, what they always can find money for, what they fill their space with (pictures etc), what they can make time for (there are 13 determinants but that is another article) etc.-

Once I was managing a team of 16 people from different countries who were brought together in Ireland to develop a whole new operating model for branches in an International Bank which operated in 59 countries.  One of the top performers in my team started to make mistakes, arrive late and was uncommunicative.  

Realising he was worried about his family we were able to make some small changes.  We upgraded his serviced apartment from a one to two bedder and instead of flying him home once a month business class, we brought his wife and children out economy class so he could come home to them each evening.  This minimal investment on our part created a staff member who gave us 200% when it was needed.

In my  years as both a manager and consultant in the private and public sectors I have never found anyone who, upon employment   deliberately wanted to do a ‘bad’ job.  It is what happens to them during their employment that can create poor performance or worse create a toxic environment for everyone to work in.  

Employing into the right roles for who they are and treating people as individuals not just ‘names in boxes’ will really help you to create high performing teams who are engaged in what they do and have pride not just in their work but in the company itself.

Engaged staff who recognise they are valued, who enjoy their role – do not look for jobs in other organisations  They do not take extra sick days and are first to volunteer when that ‘extra mile’ is required to get something urgent or important completed.

The GOOD NEWS is it isn’t hard to implement.  Whilst there tends to be Eight (8) different personalities, there are only Five (5) different ways of handling staff that you need to learn.  These will soon become a habit, or second nature  to pretty much cover everyone within your organisation.

I work with many organisations to create high performing teams and engaged individuals.  The biggest shift always happens when team members get the understanding of ‘trust and flow’ and how to leverage it to both their own and the organisation’s advantage. 

Blockages or unfounded opinions about their co-workers disappear within a very short space of time and they realise it wasn’t personal and their co-workers  were just acting in a way that was most natural to them.  They come away from  workshops with a whole new respect for each other and see ways of distributing the work better to capitalise on the talents within their team.

So, if you want more profit, increased productivity, a happier workplace and better staff retention  then decide to invest in understanding the talents of your employees better,  The ROI will far outway the initial time and effort requires when you realise that you have created a high performing team in a workplace where people want to come to work.

References: Talent Dynamics, owned by Entrepreneurs Institute

                    Team Dynamics


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