The Two Simple Traits of High Performing Teams

Performing teams have two simple traits: 1. They have team processes that work. 2. People talk to each other.

What do you do? The dreaded elevator pitch question. I fumble on it every time.

Some days I will say that I activate people. One conversation at a time, I activate leaders, teams, organizations.

Other days I say I specialize in fixing dysfunctional teams.

And thereafter I get bogged down in explaining why I am a mix of behavioral coach, process coach and OD guy, and why agile etc. And the elegance is lost.

So I pull myself back into simplicity. Here’s what a quarter of a century in travelling across many teams has taught me:

Functioning, performing teams have two simple traits:

1. They have team processes that work

2. People talk to each other

And that pretty much sums up my work. I help teams discover, build, share and own their own processes (which is where agile, Scrum, Design Thinking, Lean etc. comes in). And I help them learn better conversation, communication skills; the type that doesn’t alienate the other and brings out the joy of co-creation through camaraderie.

This is behavioral change, habit formation, so it’s complex and takes time. But it’s simple as that. The evidence is, when I look back at the teams that I’ve successfully activated, without exception, they consequently display these two traits.

**June 2024 post-notes**

When I say team processes, it doesn’t have to be “hard” processes like Agile Scrum, but anything that the team abides to. It could be a “code” too; nothing formalized but nonetheless you see discipline and a system in place.

And by people talking to each other, I mean real conversations. Not just positional talk, but more geninune and effortful conversations that generate shared understanding.

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