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Unlocking high-performance teams: Five core traits and drivers

Learning and Development | 6 Min Read

Unlocking high-performance teams: Five core traits and drivers

What are high-performance teams?

A high-performance team is a group of skilled individuals from different areas working together towards a common business goal. They share the same values, vision and collaborate effectively with innovative problem-solving skills and excellent communication.

These teams consistently exceed expectations, achieving outstanding results with strong teamwork beyond what individuals could achieve independently. They are crucial in attaining complex goals, driving innovation, and maintaining a competitive edge in today’s fast-paced business world.




Characteristics of high-performance teams

Understanding the characteristics of a high-performing team can aid in developing them in the workplace. Five essential features that make high-performing teams standout include:


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1. Trust

Trust is the most significant factor that sets high-performing teams apart. It helps the team work together, become more confident in taking risks, and handle challenges and conflicts effectively. Trust is essential for a team to reach its full potential.

2. Clear and open communication

High-performing teams streamline and optimize communication through a well-established system. They collaborate using technologies like project management software or Google Docs to stay organized and track progress.

3. Defined roles and responsibilities

Defining roles and responsibilities boosts team productivity and minimizes conflicts. Clarifying everyone’s role and responsibilities avoids confusion about task assignments within a project.

4. Engaged leadership

Engaged leaders guide their teams toward success by offering direction without micromanaging. Teams thrive when they receive strong support from their leaders. Mercer | Mettl’s Leadership Assessment identifies key areas of leadership development accelerating business growth and innovation.

5. Collective goals

Each member contributes to the overall success of a high-performing team. They aid each other in ensuring all goals are achieved.


Benefits of having a high-performance team

Companies that invest in developing a high-performance team see their workforce’s productivity increase, transforming the organization. The benefits for both employees and the organizations include:


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Benefits for employees:


A high-performance team comprises focused, motivated, and engaged individuals. They have complementary skills and shared values and are led by leaders who encourage open communication and acknowledge and reward their efforts.


Benefits for organizations:


High-performing teams bring several benefits to an organization as they possess knowledge, offer greater flexibility, encourage innovation and take risks, provide better client service, and boost engagement.


Factors that contribute to the success of high-performance teams

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1. Cognitive ability:


It refers to the mental capacity of individuals to learn, reason, problem-solve, and process information effectively. Cognitive ability, as measured by aptitude tests, is a strong predictor of performance in the workplace. Mercer | Mettl’s Cognitive Speed Test can identify individuals with high cognitive abilities.


2. Conscientiousness:


It refers to being thorough, responsible, and diligent in one’s work. Team members with high conscientiousness are typically dependable, have excellent attention to detail and are committed to achieving high-quality results.


3. Resilience:


It refers to overcoming setbacks, adapting to changing circumstances, and persevering in facing challenges. Resilient team members can help the team navigate unexpected challenges and setbacks. They can maintain their composure, stay focused on their objectives, and motivate others to perform their best.


4. Integrity:


It refers to honesty, trustworthiness, and ethics in one’s actions and decisions. Team members with high levels of integrity are typically highly reliable, dependable and committed to doing the right thing.


5. Emotional intelligence:


It refers to effectively identifying and managing one’s emotions and those of others. Such team members are usually empathetic, communicative, and collaborative. They are skilled at managing conflicts and resolving disputes effectively.


How to build a high-performance team

Developing a high-performance team is critical for success. Some of the essential methods include:

Creating a stable team:

Team composition is the foundation of building effective teams. It should be manageable and made with the employees’ complementary skills.

Building cohesive and value-aligned team dynamics:

It is vital to create a team where they bond and interact freely. When team members believe they can win together, they get more done.

Leading the team with measurable goals:

Setting targets that are measurable motivates the team to complete even the most challenging tasks.

Communicating a project's vision and direction:

Understanding the ‘why’ behind projects can help team members focus, minimize distractions and make accomplishing targets more manageable. It helps to revisit goals, direction, and vision.

Encouraging an environment of open communication:

Leaders should build a working environment that motivates employees to voice their opinions and thoughts. It promotes innovation and helps take new ideas to implementation levels.

Coaching as a team and not as individuals:

Addressing the team in its entirety and not just as a group of individuals is beneficial in creating a sense of unity and can motivate employees to work together efficiently.

Emphasizing the importance of learning:

Fostering a culture of learning and training to navigate skill gaps and incorporate different digital transformations is essential to building high-performing teams.


Tips for maintaining high-performing teams

Attracting, engaging, and maintaining high performers in the workforce can be a challenging task. Some of the tips to achieve this include:

  • Requesting and providing helpful feedback: It is important to schedule frequent catchups with employees to understand their thoughts on the job and work environment and give constructive feedback that they can implement in their work performance.
  • Defining a clear path for career advancement: Understanding and aligning the employees' professional goals with a strategy to achieve them within the company increases retention.
  • Acknowledging accomplishments: Celebrating individual and group achievements during meetings, in newsletters, or through merit-based rewards can boost performance.



High-performing teams are vital in helping organizations thrive and survive in today’s competitive business landscape. Building a high-performance team includes identifying strengths and bringing people together who complement each other with their unique talents, skills, and attributes to create a vital force that works consistently towards overcoming challenges and achieving business goals.

Mercer | Mettl provides a comprehensive assessment tool suite that identifies high-potential candidates for a high-performance team. Mercer | Mettl’s High-potential identification solutions identify the top performers to enhance business outcomes. The leadership assessment tests foster diversity and collaboration, and succession planning tools identify high-potential leaders crucial for stable high-performing teams.

Recruiting and maintaining stable, high-performance teams requires planning, dedication, and consistency.



What are the five behaviors of high-performing teams?

What are the five characteristics of a highly effective team?

Originally published August 14 2023, Updated August 14 2023

Written by

Vaishali has been working as a content creator at Mercer | Mettl since 2022. Her deep understanding and hands-on experience in curating content for education and B2B companies help her find innovative solutions for key business content requirements. She uses her expertise, creative writing style, and industry knowledge to improve brand communications.

About This Topic

Employee engagement is a process by which companies undertake specific activities to interact with employees and engage them. The activities include employee development, team building, skills development, trainings etc.

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