Building high performance teams
The Five Cs for team building: Confidence (Trust),
Consensus, Commitment, Collaboration and
In high performance teams the talents of each individual are used at it’s best; and
therefore, the group obtains superior results.
High performance teams requiere a sequence of “building blocks” to achieve a
level of interactions that allows the group to excel.
For a team to work effectively, it must build four basic attributes: Confidence
(the best word to use is Trust), Consensus, Commitment and Collaboration.
Each attribute is built on the previous attribute –a domino effect– that means that
we cannot obtain Commitment if there is no Consensus, and we cannot obtain
Consensus if there is no Trust.
There is a fifth attribute: “Open Communication”, which plays an important role in
the flow during the process of building Confidence, Consensus, Commitment and
The first attribute is Confidence (Trust); however, for the purpose of creating the
5 Cs, it is called Confidence. The rest of the attributes are based on Confidence
(Trust), that is the primary base for the creation of a team.
Many times we expect to have Commitment from all the members in a team,
without first building Trust among the members. Then, the result is a low level of
Commitment that will crumble when confronted with adversity –due to a weak
Now, how do you build Trust? I believe that trust is actually an individual and
group phenomenon. There are people who tend to trust others from the very
beginning, and people who need more time to build trustworthy relationships.
On the other hand there are environments that foster the creation of trustworthy
relationships, and others that don’t.
The leader of a team plays an important role in creating an atmosphere where
trust among its members can be developed. There are three key elements
required to build trust:
3- Open Communication
To build Trust among members, an appropiate atmosphere is required.
The leader of a team plays a key role in creating this atmosphere, and he/she
can do that by setting the example and properly guiding the other members of
the team, to be able to establish the trustworthy relationships.
A team led by a person that does not inspire trust is surely a team where trust
will not flourish. Trust is built based on facts and action, not based on words!
When team members find that they can depend on each other, on more ways
than one, and feel that they are not let down, then a solid and trustworthy
relationship is built.
The communication within a team can be divided into two main categories:
Issues that the team is dealing with.
Interaction within the team itself.
Most of the time conversations are focused on the issues that the team is dealing
with; however, time must be invested in talking about the interaction within the
Within the atmosphere of trust that needs to be established, it is important to
differentiate these two types of communications, and to fully understand that by
dealing and clarifying aspects of the interaction, will only help to create a much
more effective and productive team.
We can agree or not, but once we reach a consensus –it is considered to be
definite– and when we leave the room, the team’s decision must continue to be
supported by everyone.
Perhaps this phrase exemplifies very well the meaning of consensus.
Consensus is not just the decision of the majority, nor the decision of those who
have more power. Consensus is built by participating in dialogue and active
listening. If a team has already developed mutual trust, the pathway leading to
consensus becomes much shorter.
If team members have a trustworthy relationship, dialogue and discussion to
reach a consensus is then based on their different points of view and not on
indiviual positions; so, there are no winners or loosers, but an exchange of ideas
that can bring better solutions from a team’s point of view.
When trust exists, reaching a consensus is easy, as it is based on facts and not
on personal positions!
I believe that just like the trust, there are some other elements that help to build a
Active listening = understanding other people’s point of view.
Eliminating subjectivities = specifying them; if it is not possible to fully
Having empathy = making use of dialogue as a means to reach
Another important factor is to understand and comply with the rules that the team
has to reach a consensus. By rules I mean the process of decision making,
how information is gathered and shared, how input is received from each
member of the team, how feedback is processed, how new options are explored,
and when a decision is to be made.
Team members can participate in a team, but not consider themselves aligned
with the team’s objective. They participate and do their job, but are not
commited! In this situation, team members are not willing to give the best of
themselves to each other.
When team members are commited, they give their best, at all times, and make
all necessary efforts to reach the team’s objectives!
The lack of commitment can be due to many factors, but perhaps the key one is
the lack of alignment between individual and team objectives.
Building commitment is a difficult task because it has to do with the interests and
values of the team members. Team members will be committed if they feel part
of something, that they belong to something. Now, what makes people feel part
of something? I believe this can better be answered by another question:
What’s in there for them?
An effective way to build Commitment is by identifying the motivation of each
member of the team.
Everyone has different things that motivate them, and those motivations change
with the course of time. That’s why the leader of a team must understand and
continuously monitor the things that motivate the team members. The team
leader also needs to make sure that these factors are taken care of, so they will
Collaboration happens only when commitment is achieved! Collaboration means
that each member of the team is giving his/her best, and helps others to reach
their individual objectives.
Members of a team can lever on the strengths of each one and complement the
weaknesses that they can have, to obtain extraordinary results.
When each team member really works effectively and at its best, then we can
say that we have created a High Performance team.