When we think about high-performing teams, it can often be difficult to identify exactly what it is that they do in order to create high performance.
The FIT (Functioning Integrated Team) Model breaks down the performance of teams into the key elements that differentiate high-performing teams from the norm.
Let’s look at each of these elements in turn.
The team purpose must be aligned with that of the organisation. The purpose identifies the work of the team and why it is important. It provides direction for setting goals that guide the team’s actions.
The team should be clear about what it actually produces. If the team produces a product (for example, a car on a production line) then the output can be easily stated and identified. Many management teams are unclear about what they actually produce, since it’s typically direction, leadership, communication, decisions, influence and so on.
Performance measures identify the measurable outcomes, accomplishments and so on that are needed to be successful.
This means the teams’ source of information or supplies. If the team is measured on delivering an output within a specified range of quality, then the quality and timeliness of the input is extremely important in producing the output. Teams must be clear on what their inputs are. For management teams, this can be difficult to define.
Core work processes
This means the core work and support processes required for the team to achieve its goals and objectives in the most effective way.
Objectives and priorities
What are the core tasks and goals the team aims to complete, and in which order of importance are they held?
Decision making and information processes
Decision making is the process the team uses to make decisions. This defines the scope of individual’s and the team’s responsibility in decision making.
Team structure, roles and locations
Derived from the team’s purpose, these define the major functional areas involved in achieving the team’s purpose.
Team values, norms and behaviours
Team norms and values are ground rules that identify appropriate behaviours for team members.
Membership, competencies and commitments
You need to define the strengths and weaknesses of each team member as the basis upon which an individual and team development plan can be created.
Individual and team reward systems
Performance and reward systems should be unique to the team and yet aligned with the business.
To a great degree, the culture and environment within which your team operates will be created by you and your style of leadership.
Above the line and below the line
Take another look at the FIT Model. You will see a line running through the middle of the diagram.
This represents the fact that teams always operate on two different levels: above the line and below the line.
Your above-the-line agenda describes the intellectual or ‘task’ agenda for the team – are we all clear on our purpose, our performance measures, our personal objectives and priorities and so on.
As a starting point for a new manager, it’s important to focus on being very clear about your above-the-line agenda. From day one, it’s important that people understand what they are being asked to do.
Your below-the-line agenda describes the emotional or ‘process’ agenda for the team – are we all clear on what we value as a team, what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour in this team, how we are rewarded as a team, as individuals and so on.
In reality, all teams operate on both agendas at the same time. If you think about it, you may be involved in a conversation about a technical issue that needs to be resolved (the intellectual agenda) and, at the same time, you may feel either pleased or really unhappy about the way the subject is being addressed or the way you are being treated (the emotional agenda).
These things happen at the same time; they happen every day to all of us.
What makes high-performing teams stand out is, first of all, the fact that they recognise that those two agendas are happening together and, secondly, that they are willing to spend time discussing and agreeing their below-the-line or emotional agenda.
Make time with your team to discuss what you want to value, the behaviour that you expect from each other and how you will reward each other.
For example, you might agree that as a team you will either value speed over bureaucracy or you will value paying attention to detail.
You might agree that the behaviour you expect from each other is to be on time for meetings and appointments, or to deliver on any actions you take away from meetings, for example.