Great leaders are always looking for ways to maximize their team’s talent and boost their performance. But what exactly is a “high-performing” team? According to the Society for Human Resource Management, a “high-performance work team refers to a group of goal-focused individuals with specialized expertise and complementary skills who collaborate, innovate and produce consistently superior results.”

These high-performing teams can bring huge benefits to an organization. Not only do they work with greater levels of trust, but they are also often more engaged, creative and better able to adapt to changes. Want to help your team operate at a higher level? We’re sharing some guidance from Suzi McAlpine, an executive coach and leadership development specialist, in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

1. Get to know your team on an individual basis. This is one of the best ways you can ignite greater performance. When you know what makes each individual tick — what motivates them, what challenges them, what they aspire to achieve — you can bring out their best. McAlpine recommends scheduling regular one-on-ones with your direct reports and having more genuine “how are you doing?” conversations. Then, she suggests taking a half day every quarter to look at what you, as a leader, should continue, stop or begin doing.

2. Reward the good. For this to happen, you must first clearly define what “good” looks like. Once you establish the behavior or performance that falls into this category, commend your team members. McAlpine says you don’t necessarily need to boost their pay or give them expensive gifts. Instead, write them a thoughtful thank-you note or share your appreciation publicly in a team meeting. Don’t pass up an opportunity to tell people when they’ve done something well, she says.

3. Step back more often. When you want to boost performance, McAlpine says it’s important to let your team own what you want them to solve. Otherwise, individuals on your team will come to count on you to solve their issues or handle challenges. She suggests asking coaching questions like “Let’s explore our options with X in mind.” This approach can lead to better engagement rather than just blind compliance.

4. Prioritize building trust. Leaders who don’t make building trust their first order of business are in for a bumpy ride, McAlpine says. There are many ways to cultivate trust, from being friendly and open with your team members to following through on your commitments as a boss. Just like anyone else, it takes time and consistency for leaders to build trust.

5. Learn how to uncover strengths and differences. Your team is made up of highly talented people. While some of their skills may overlap, each individual may also bring their own unique strengths. Leaders should work to capitalize on these differences in order to elevate team performance. When a team is operating from their strengths, she says, they not only do they perform better, but they are more engaged.

Every team has something it can improve. By following the guidance above, leaders can work to help their teams perform at top levels more often.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Suzi McAlpine is an executive coach, leadership development specialist and author of the award-winning leadership blog, The Leader’s Digest. She works with individuals and organizations to ignite better leadership.