8 Characteristics of High-Performing Teams (and How to Build One)

Why do some teams perform better than others? What sets these teams apart from the rest?

High-performing teams are composed of individuals with specialized expertise and complementary skills who are goal-oriented and hyper-focused on achieving clear, outstanding results. Together they collaborate and innovate to produce work at the highest levels.

8 Characteristics of High-Performing Teams (and How to Build One)

1. They have clear goals tied closely to team and organizational priorities.

High-performing teams are aligned in their focus, purpose, and priorities. They set team and individual goals that support this shared vision so that their work drives achievement. Goals are not only aligned, but they are clearly defined so everyone knows exactly what they need to do and how to get there.

2. They understand how their work fits into the organizational mission.

When employees understand how their job fits into the context of the overall goals and mission of the organization, they are more engaged and productive. High-performing teams know their “why” and work together to support a shared vision.

3. They have defined roles and responsibilities.

Conflict can quickly derail an otherwise talented and productive team. High-performing teams minimize unnecessary conflict by defining each person’s role and responsibilities clearly. This prevents confusion over project ownership, keeps workflows and deadlines organized, and ensures accountability across the board.

4. They communicate clearly and respectfully.

When communication breaks down, conflict arises and performance suffers. High-performing teams set clear expectations and channels for communication so everyone knows when and where to communicate and who they need to connect with. Conflict is normal, but high-performing teams know how to navigate it in a healthy way that doesn’t create more obstacles.

5. They manage work and deadlines based on priorities.

High-performing teams focus on what matters most and spend their time accordingly. They understand that not all work has equal importance or urgency and they manage projects based on what tasks have the highest priority and highest impact. This keeps work aligned with organizational goals and ensures everyone is focused on work that drives growth.

6. They trust and respect each other.

The level of collaboration and teamwork required for high achievement depends on trust and mutual respect. Employees on high-performing teams value each other and trust each person to do their job. They respect diversity of thought and experience and recognize those differences make them stronger. This culture of trust helps everyone:

  • Bring their full selves to the job
  • Take risks
  • Share ideas
  • Innovate together

7. They celebrate success together and recognize contributions.

High-performing teams understand that success results from team effort. They celebrate wins together and take opportunities to recognize and show appreciation for each employee’s contributions. This builds a strong culture of collaboration and helps everyone feel valued and connected.

8. They practice continuous learning.

Even the best teams have room to grow. High-performing teams value feedback and learn from their mistakes. They look for opportunities to grow by nurturing a feedback culture and investing in ongoing employee development. Continuous learning propels growth and keeps teams striving for higher achievement.