The factors and circumstances that turn a group of employees into a dream-team of top performers are far from being an exact science, but these are five steps you can take to make an outcome of excellence much more likely.

Identifying your requirements

Every business undertaking, from developing a new product to launching a new department, must start with a thorough audit and clear understanding of the resources involved. In terms of putting together a high-performance team, those resources manifest in the form of the skills and attributes of each team member. Armed with this knowledge, you can ensure those skills are in place before making any new hires or assigning roles. Taking the time for this crucial step will prevent overprovisioning with unnecessary resources and will keep the team lean, agile and effective. Your potential team members may come from outside of the business, or they may be current employees. Either way, this is an indispensable step in assembling a high-performance team.

Finding the right people

Now that you know what sorts of skills your team will require, the next step is to find out which of your employees fit the bill as potential team members. Consider each employee in relation to those around them and consider how their knowledge and talents may add to the project at hand. Should you find it necessary to take on new hires, be stringent in your interviewing processes to make sure they will make a positive impact on the team as a whole, both in terms of their skill-set and their demeanour.

Establishing strong leadership

Even though work teams can and should be based on equal participation, establishing a team leader is essential to making sure conflicts, miscommunications and misunderstandings are kept to a minimum. A team leader is a point of reference and contact for both the team and management.

Getting them fired up with common goals

Whether internally or externally sourced, a careful briefing and induction period is a great idea if you want your team to hit the ground running. Emphasise the goals for the project and how it will contribute to the overall wellbeing of the business and its employees, and what success will mean for the team itself. Employees have an innate need to feel that their work is achieving something, and that they are being nurtured and developed as individuals. Maintaining enthusiasm and a desire to succeed means that the team bond will be that much stronger, as will each member’s resolve to do their best in whatever role they are assigned.

Throw them in the deep end

It may seem contrary to all the preceding steps, but the most accurate predictor of a team that performs exceptionally well is innovation, and innovation cannot thrive if stringent rules and set-in-stone expectations limit creativity. It is your job to encourage out-of-the-box thinking and calculated risk-taking. You may end up getting some of your best business ideas from team members feeling valued for their contribution and, as a result, going above and beyond the call of duty in their work.

Richard Branson once famously said, “Shape your enterprise around your people”. At the end of the day, only your employees can elevate the team to the point where its performance outstrips the sum of its parts – but it’s your responsibility as a manager or business owner to ensure they have the skills, training, resources and encouragement to make a success of any project they undertake.