The two things to get right when building high performance teams

2020 was a difficult year for most teams and organisations, and yet also an eye-opening experience to see how the teams that have survived and thrived have been the ones where its members are most aligned. How aligned are your team members in being prepared for future challenges?

We are facing more different and unique challenges having to build teams of different personalities, who work from a distance around varying arrangements, whilst trying to keep employees engaged and performing in increasingly digital workplaces.

Unsurprisingly, businesses are finding that their greatest challenges are people-related. The increased complexity of jobs and workforces mean that many organisations are finding themselves;

  1. Hiring skilled people, but providing a poor environment.
  2. Building a great environment, but hiring people with poor fit.

Instead of a hiring and leaving cycle, what should we keep in mind in building more fulfilled teams? It really comes down to remembering to do two basics better in fast changing circumstances

Hiring the right people + Creating the right environment

Hiring the right people -> Do you have the right applicant fit insights tools?

Many organisations make the mistake of focusing on employee engagement and creating a great environment, but are unknowingly still hiring people who are a poor long-term fit; either by continuing to allow unconscious bias in the recruitment process, overconfidence in one’s ability to be a great judge of character, or using outdated and unreliable tools.

Hiring people who are the right fit means really understanding who you are hiring at the outset. It comes down to two questions to answer and get right: 1. CAN they perform? (Skills)  2. WILL they perform? (Personality)

First, skills determine whether they CAN perform. That can be easy and straightforward so we mostly already get this down pack, relying on qualifications, CVs, reference checks, work samples, interviews, etc.

What we can’t really get hold of early on is, WILL they perform? Candidates may have all the needed skills and present well, but lack the personal attributes and fit to the role. There’s no point hiring someone who can do the work but make a bad fit – you’ll just get short-term performers who leave quickly.

Creating the right environment -> Do you have the right employee engagement insights?

Employee engagement tools are becoming increasingly popular to help leaders create the right organisational culture and environment, by identifying which areas in your business are engaging or disengaging your employees. Afterall, if the work environment is poor, it doesn’t matter how great the people you hire are – nobody will be the right fit. Great employees will still leave.

Employee engagement isn’t all there is to a high performing workforce. It is all too common for businesses to have invested all that effort into engagement initiatives but find that things don’t seem to improve beyond a certain point. 

Start by looking at and reviewing the source, hiring people who are the right fit based on objective data and tools, rather than continuing to accept subjective processes as they are “good enough for now”. Be future ready. Get people who help to build the environment you are aiming to build – not dilute it.

Ryan Ng

Ryan Ng

Ryan is a workforce psychologist and founder of TalentIdentify with a background in education, technology, and people science, and research in the fields of personality, negotiation, and neuropsychology. He is passionate about applying universal behavioural science through a holistic and strengths-based lens, delivering deeper insights so as to enable smarter people and culture decisions. Ryan is on a mission to drive individual, team and organisational fulfilment through helping clients identify their unique people challenges and get to success on their own terms.