The Top Characteristics of High-Performance Teams

by Victoria Mckee

What makes a business successful? It boils down to a strong, high-performance team. Solid plans, visionary strategies, and innovative products or services will only go so far without the best team to bring all that to life!

That’s why companies spend a lot of time and effort trying to understand and optimize their teams’ performances. High-performance teams are engaged and dedicated, producing extraordinary results. But it takes work to create that high-performance culture a company needs for success.

To do so, it all begins with learning and adopting the right characteristics of high-performance teams. While it’s easy to define what high-performance teams are, it’s more difficult to achieve them. But through knowing what characteristics high-performance teams possess, you can learn how to foster those qualities for your teams, too.

Without further ado, here are the top characteristics of high-performance teams you must know about.


Top Characteristics of High-Performance Teams

To assemble high-performance teams, you must look for these characteristics off the bat during the hiring process. From a diverse skillset and team mentality down to strong work ethics to dedication to excellent results, these are what you need in employees to form the best team for success.

This is important because, without high-performance teams, companies will end up relying solely on individual contributors. That means undermining behavior, and unhealthy competition can grow, building that “every person for themselves” attitude. That can have a negative impact on the company culture, as work becomes stagnant and innovation comes to a halt!

If only individuals could solve problems, companies would miss out on the value of a vibrant network of employees! With that in mind, these are the exact characteristics you’ll want to look out for in high-performance teams.



High-performing teams and their members would have high levels of self-awareness. This means that they understand one another and, most importantly, themselves. That awareness is related to their understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, along with the understanding of their colleagues’ strengths and weaknesses.

Self-awareness may also refer to a more social side of the job. Let’s say your coworker prefers working alone with fewer distractions, while another would prefer working by brainstorming with other people. By understanding how individual team members approach work, you can help the team optimize how it structures interdependencies and responsibilities in the team.

So, how can you build awareness? An effective way to do so is to provide all team members access to team assessments to use. Doing so will help the entire team learn about themselves and their colleagues.

You can find many team assessments online or use appropriate tools for personality assessments. Such assessments will give team members insights into their ways of communicating, interacting, and working. For employees, this will help build awareness about themselves and their teammates. For managers, they will learn more about individual team members’ workstyles and understand the way team members would interact with one another.



High-performing teams will have highly engaged members, both in their work and organization. That means employees have high rates of collaboration and participation, with all members working to ensure everyone is contributing and involved.

The high engagement will have individual team members more empowered with a purpose-driven experience. Moreover, it will ensure that every team member’s strengths are utilized to the fullest.

There are many ways to build engagement within a team. For instance, you can follow a clear onboarding, offer professional development opportunities, fair, equitable approaches to recognizing and rewarding employee achievements, as well as provide efficient operations and processes.

At the team level, all those concepts are equally important. However, it’s also essential to utilize appropriate tools to allow collaboration, ensuring that all the team’s projects are purpose-driven and tied to the organization’s overall strategies.

Going back to rewarding employee achievements, you’ll be surprised how celebrating success together can build a high-performance team! Such teams are aware that success comes from a team effort, and it’s important to celebrate those wins together, taking opportunities to recognize and appreciate all employees’ contributions. Not only does this build engagement, but a strong culture of collaboration and relationships, having everyone feel connected and valued.



High-Performance Teams

Communication is an apparent and considerable characteristic of a high-performing team and its members. That means the team would communicate with consistency and transparency, working towards identifying and resolving any conflicts efficiently.

Team members know when to call, email, message, and when not to do so! If they work in a physical office, they know when (and when not to) enter someone’s office. Moreover, these high-performance teams would utilize technology to easily track progress and stay organized, using project management software or Google Drive.

Strong communication will help a team operate effectively in coordinated ways. But how can you build that characteristic in your team?

The modern team will require the appropriate tools for proper communication and collaboration. Moreover, they will need clear guidelines on how and when to use such tools. One of the top communication tools every organization uses is email, but you can use other useful tools, like:

  • Chat tools
  • Employee recognition software
  • Intranets
  • Internal ticketing
  • General distribution email lists
  • Project management software
  • Among many others!

The goal is to offer adequate communication channels for all purposes while ensuring the guidelines to use these channels are clear and intuitive. Team members should also encourage communication without fearing rejection, being shot down, or feeling embarrassed when asking questions.



Trust means that team members are comfortable committing mistakes, giving each other feedback, taking risks, and learning from themselves and one another.

Trust and psychological safety are crucial to team success as it enables teams to push ideas and innovate further, thus producing the best results. That way, team members aren’t merely sticking to the status quo and giving into group-thinking, even feeling afraid of calling out any bad behavior within the team!

Furthermore, trust is vital, so communication and engagement become a reality. It’s challenging to build trust directly, but the first step is to tackle awareness. Build shared understanding about every team member, which helps them understand one another when conflicts inevitably arise.

Another significant element of trust is fairness. If you are the team leader, you must demonstrate fairness towards everyone, may it be in promotions, who gets projects, who’s listened to, and the like. When team members see that fairness is played out, they will trust each other and their leaders more.

Understandably, miscommunication, missed deadlines, or reduced productivity levels would ensue. These can lead to reduced trust. If this happens to a team, it’s up to the leader to identify the cause of the breakdown and communicate. Speak with all the team members and bring them together, talking things over. It will take a lot of effort to rebuild trust, and everyone needs to participate in doing so, but it will be worth all the time and effort.

Other than trust, another important characteristic is respect. Collaboration and teamwork levels will depend on trust and mutual respect. Not only do employees trust one another, but they trust their colleagues to perform their jobs.

Moreover, team members will respect the diversity of experience and thought, recognizing differences that make individuals and the team stronger. As such, everyone will be able to bring their complete selves to work, taking risks, sharing ideas, and innovating together.



High-performing teams are balanced, with the balance of backgrounds, communication styles, expertise, personalities, and roles in their team. Balance is crucial as it helps teams avoid group-think, which may lead to mediocre results.

The balance would help your team innovate new ideas, applying their unique strengths to achieve goals. Studies show that diverse workforces lead to productive teams that accomplish bigger and better results!

Compared to the other characteristics mentioned, building balance is mostly done during the hiring process. Building a well-balanced team will boil down to how leaders select their team members.

When hiring new employees, you must look to fill gaps in existing team members to bring in new perspectives and expertise. Also, leaders shouldn’t heavily rely on culture fit when choosing a new hire. New hires must be able to get along with team members, but they don’t need to fit that mold to be successful in the company.



Employees from a high-performance team would have high levels of enthusiasm, feeling enthusiastic about every aspect of a project, even to the smallest detail. That’s because they are genuinely interested and invested in seeing their projects through to the end.

Enthusiasm is an excellent trait because it’s infectious, spreading quickly throughout the team to help create uniform success!



High-performance teams are dedicated to the job. When assigned projects, these teams will see them through the end, ensuring that every aspect of their projects is correct, even to the smallest detail. Moreover, dedicated teams pay great attention to detail, not skipping any parts of projects just to reach the deadlines quicker.


Decision-Making Powers

High-performance team members have more freedom to decide about capabilities, colleagues, projects, and the like. Of course, such decisions are well within reason.

The freedom to make required decisions without having to ask superiors for permission allows team members to produce the best results. When teams can make effective decisions efficiently, team members will be able to spend more time taking action on the decisions and exercising creativity and expertise.

Here’s what decisiveness looks like:

  • Being able to make quick and effective decisions
  • Identify and gather factual information to make decisions
  • Quickly assessing and recognizing how to prioritize decisions, especially when facing looming deadlines
  • Confidently moving forward to what’s next

Here are a few tips to encourage decisiveness in teams:

  • Encourage your team to take balanced approaches. We usually think about the things that can go wrong. But rather than focusing on the negativities and anxieties, encourage your team to take a balanced approach and think about the benefits of the decisions made.
  • Teach your team members to embrace uncertainties. Indecision will occur if someone doesn’t feel confident about the possible results. However, team members and leaders won’t know the outcome unless you decide on something and take action on it. Stay centered on the information the team already has and allow that to guide everyone to make decisions and take action.
  • Inspire team members to be bold, encourage them to listen to their gut says, and confidently share any concerns and ideas. If you are the team leader, you must provide your team the platform and opportunity to speak up, letting them know their thoughts are valued during the decision-making process.


Aligned Values

Value-aligned teams will exhibit excellent characteristics such as:

  • They enjoy collaboration
  • Feel connected with one another
  • Seek their colleagues’ strengths and expertise
  • Believe in the collective power over the sum of its parts
  • Constantly learn and grow
  • Hold each other accountable
  • Feel emotionally invested in the team and company mission

To encourage the team to share aspirations and values, start by posing the following questions to yourself, then in one-on-one discussions and team meetings:

  • What are things you value in your role and throughout your career?
  • What culture and environment do you thrive in?
  • What are better ways to work collaboratively as a team?
  • What would you like to gain from your position and particular project? Are there skills or expertise you’d like to expand on?



A driven team will be able to establish deadlines and regularly set SMART goals. Moreover, team members with drive would take the initiative, having the hunger to learn and contribute to the team’s success. They will focus on quality over quantity, feeling engaged in their job and responsibilities.

To encourage drive, you first need to find out what team members are interested to learn and how they’d like to grow. Allow them to feel more connected in their roles, giving them opportunities to do what they want. Ask the team if there are specific projects they haven’t worked on but are interested in doing so and if there are certain skills they’d like to hone.

Moreover, encourage feedback to motivate team members to grow and improve. This allows them to be able to voice out concerns as well.



When you have a team of confident employees, you have a happy, ambitious, and motivated team. Team members will feel confident in their abilities to tackle challenges and unafraid to take risks.

Confident team members are risk-takers, unafraid of uncertainty and failure, believing it is necessary to become successful. Furthermore, these team members are innovators willing to take risks, more agile, and more innovative than others. They adapt to change, brainstorming solutions during any changes and transitions.

Another excellent trait confident team members have is independence, relying less on their leader, and being able to handle issues on their own. While they are independent, they don’t have problems reaching out for help when needed.

You can encourage confidence by first setting the example. It starts with the leader, so team members will be more willing to invest their time and energy in their responsibilities when you evoke confidence. Also, develop your team, tapping into each member’s strengths and weaknesses to help utilize their strengths and tackle weaknesses.



High-Performance Teams

High-performance teams would have ingrained group cohesiveness; thus, they would excellently get along with one another. Team members will provide help whenever possible, and if there is an issue that arises, they will step in right away, picking up slack. That’s because they are knowledgeable about what team members do throughout the workday!

A collaborative team also means that each member shares a team mentality. Everyone will relish in team collaboration, creativity, and coordination, seeing the fruit of their work as a group effort rather than seeing it as merely individual successes.


Shared Vision

One of the most important characteristics a team would share is a united vision. Teams that perform above and beyond the mark would possess a shared vision about the company they work in, along with its mission, vision, and values.

Team members know and share the company’s values and will actively work towards upholding them! Make sure that, as a leader, you communicate the company’s vision and purpose alongside specific and measurable goals. When setting goals for high-performance teams, go for the more ambitious but within reason.


Defined Roles and Responsibilities

So, you have assembled a team with members possessing the potential to perform at their highest levels. However, none of that matters if leaders don’t provide their team members with the required clarity, direction, and structure. If that’s the case, even the most skilled talents won’t become successful.

Teams would be able to reduce conflict and maximize productivity through leaders providing members with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. High-performance teams work excellently because everyone has a part in collective success. Teams will require clear roles and responsibilities, along with an agreed approach for decision-making and problem-solving.

When team members have a clearly defined role and set of responsibilities, it reduces confusion about who should work on what in projects. It will also prevent conflict from arising or bringing morale down.

Combining team members with the right expertise and communicating the goals and responsibilities will fuel innovation, creating the best for the company.


Engaged Leadership

Engaged leaders will provide direction and not micromanagement! They do so for their teams to become successful.

Team members perform their best when they have great leaders who offer their complete support. Good leaders foster positive working environments, ensuring that they maintain great communication, respect, and trust. Moreover, they set clearly defined goals, outlining the necessary steps to achieve them.

Speaking of defined goals, we understand that every team member performs their own responsibilities. However, everyone should be aware that they collectively work towards one significant goal, with their individual work contributing to the overall success of company projects.

High-performance teams should not be afraid to pitch in and help one another, ensuring they meet all goals.



Passionate and committed team members are the heart of high-performance teams!

When assembling a team, you’ll want to look for people fitting into your definition of high-performance. For instance, you might feel that you must populate teams with overachievers and those with specific backgrounds and skillsets. However, hiring many people of the same characteristics won’t contribute to overall success.

If you want to build teams performing at the highest level, you’ll want to go diverse! High-performance teams aren’t merely made of well-rounded individuals. These teams are well-rounded, with individuals carrying different experiences, perspectives, strengths, and the like.

When you hire different people, leaders can leverage everyone’s unique experiences, perspectives, and strengths to build the best team possible. However, it’s important to remember that since you are bringing together different people who may have different ideas on working and accomplishing goals, you must hire individuals with an excellent understanding of interpersonal styles. Doing so will improve communication and relationships and reduce conflict.


Practice Continuous Learning

Even the most impressive teams have room to grow and will commit mistakes. High-performance teams will value feedback and learning from mistakes made. Best of all, they will search for more opportunities to grow, nurture a feedback culture, and invest in employee development.

When leaders provide team members with continuous learning opportunities, everyone grows, resulting in higher chances of achieving bigger goals.

Not only do team members learn, but they adapt. It’s vital for teams to actively engage in and explore new ideas, staying curious and learning from one another. Trying, failing, learning, then adapting are important steps to achieving goals.


Wrapping It Up

We hope that our list of the characteristics of high-performance teams helped you out! If you would still like more help on the hiring process and how to select the best candidate for your organization, check out what more we have to offer here at HireNest.

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