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Building a High Performing Team Culture

November 04 2019 - by Dr. Lois Parkes, Leadership Development and Institutional Strengthening Specialist

 A common challenge faced by team leaders is how to address poor team dynamics and team conflict. Poor team dynamics and out of control team conflict has negative consequences such as under-performance, unmet targets, and low team productivity, motivation and engagement.

Like most things in life, prevention is better than cure, when it comes to creating a high-performing team culture. The role of a team leader is to proactively take steps to build the team culture that will best support high levels of performance. Below are a few tips on how to do this:

  • Initiate a discussion with your team on what practices and norms the team needs to adopt in order to be a high performing team. Too often, team meetings are solely focused on the goals and tasks to be accomplished. However too little attention is given to how the team will need to work together in order to operate optimally. Determine the most appropriate communication channels, clearly define roles, team accountability, decision-making processes, how conflict will be addressed, and the values that ought to underpin team interactions.
  • It is also important to discuss what relevant behaviours will look like, in very practical terms. Too often, a team might say that they should have respect for each other. However, respect can be defined in a multiplicity of ways. So, get the team to share examples of what a value such as respect would look like, in terms of practical expression.
  • Develop a team agreement on the team norms decided. These norms then become the performance standards by which team effectiveness can be reviewed, and monitored.
  • Periodically assess. Similar to assessing team targets, team culture, norms and processes should also be regularly reviewed to determine what is working well, and to identify and address areas for improvement/development.


In your teams, a culture will naturally develop. However, to develop the culture that you really desire, this requires deliberate leadership action. Leadership does not happen by chance; it happens by INTENTION.

We would love to hear your responses to this blog. Share with us any best practices you have used or observed in building a high performing team culture.