Building a High Performing Team


West 4 x 400 Relay Champion

I sit in the bleachers anticipating what will happen next. I’m at the Tennessee State Championship, watching my son’s high school team compete.  It’s the girl’s day to challenge for a title.   I thought it was a highly unlikely event since the girl team had only seven girls competing (two freshmen, two  sophomores, one junior, and two seniors); they were completing against larger schools with more athletes.  It was the classic matchup of Goliath and David.

At the final event of the night (4 x 400 relay), Brentwood was leading by two points. The West Relay team (which included two freshmen, one sophomore, and one senior) finished fifth in the preliminaries.  Things were different in the finals. The girls ran like they were on fire. West’s Tamara Hundley noted, “Coach Crocket told us we needed to win this event to win State. We were not going to be denied.” In an electric finish, senior runner Maddie Treasure ran the anchor leg, came from behind and winning
the event in 3:56.82. It was their best time of the season and provided the team with another successful year. Knoxville West had won its second consecutive Class AAA team title by edging out superpower Brentwood High (62.5 points to 54 points) with the guttiest performance of the night.  Winning only one individual event, the team systematically scored in each event.  The
determination paid off.

The Magnificent Seven (Maddie Treasure, Riley Campbell, Maya Barreso, Kayla Newsby, Shantyra Delaney, Kaylah Whaley, and
Tamara Hundley) had found another way to win its fourth state championship. Celebrating that night, I ran into a rival coach from another area; the coach had won a state track title before, edging out West High to win.  He was disgusted that a girl’s track team
could score just 60 points and win a state championship.  Of course, it was easy for me to figure. I had watched the coaches over several years.  Will Jay and Mike Crocket had developed a masterful strategy of maximizing their team’s potential (this year they participated in 11 of 19 events) and creating a high-performing team.

Coach Crocket stated, “This is about the guttiest bunch I’ve ever had….We lost 50 points from last year’s team and had a
lot of injuries. These girls laid it all on the line.”  With collegiate All-American hurdler Jackie Coward of University of Central Florida graduated from the program, many people figured the West track would fade into the wilderness like so many other
programs.  The effort of this track program demonstrates the importance of developing a high-performing
organization to sustain success in the future.

High-performing organizations offer a distinct competitive advantage. A high-performing organization is one that is “intentionally designed to bring out the best in people and thereby produces organization capacity that delivers sustainable leadership business results.”  Most organizations want to boast about their superior performance in relationships to their competitors. Yet, when a litmus test is used, many come far short of this declaration to their customers.

When individuals work together, organizations often perform better. Therefore, working toward a shared vision and belief system are critical steps.  Gareth Jones and Jennifer George, authors of Contemporary Management, note the importance of good group dynamics: “People working in a group are able to produce more or higher-quality outputs than would have been produced if each
person had worked separately and all their individual efforts were later combined.”

The authors further suggest a competitive advantage for organizations working in groups and teams; the organization should aim to:(a) enhance its performance; (b) increase its responsiveness to customers; (c) increase innovation;  and (d) increase employees’ motivation and satisfaction. Yet, building a high-performing organization is no easy task.  Many organizations have faltered
in thinking that simply optimizing their resources with “good management” and utilizing good technology are enough to stimulate high performance.

In today’s hyper-competitive environment, it’s not only about good processes; it’s about putting a good team together.  Gary
Lewis, President of Resource Development Systems, LLC, argues that creating high-performing organizations is about managing people: “What differentiates the high-performing organization is not how well they have dealt with their process issues, but how well they have dealt with their people issues.”  Lewis notes some key elements for high-performing organization, such as people, vision, leadership, core competencies, innovation, trust, and personal responsibility.

 As organizations retool for the future, organizational performance will be a key topic for senior executives. The article demonstrated the importance of high-performing organizations for future sustainability. Every organization wants to attain
high performance; sadly, many organizations are simply clueless about how to do so.

Like the Knoxville West girls’ track team, organizations must find ways to overcome challenges so that they can become successful. People are a critical element to this organizational performance puzzle. Therefore, leveraging people is as important as managing resources in order to sustain high performance in organizations over the long term.

 © 2011 by Daryl D. Green

3 thoughts on “Building a High Performing Team

  1. Highly effective organizations require high performance teams which work towards achieving the goal in the organization (Musselwhite 2007). Teams are defined as small groups of people with common goals and approaches that aim at achieving high performance. Effective team builders and leaders should process certain competencies. The first is the ability to promote understanding between team members on common goals and individual input. The other is ensuring teams have enough knowledge required to achieve their objectives. Finally, effective leaders should facilitate effective interaction between team members. Effective teams on the other hand should have common goals and they should understand the larger picture. In addition, effective teams should provide assistance to teams in order to ensure they work effectively and they attain their goals.

    Musselwhite, C. (2007). Building and leading high performance teams. Retrieved on July 23, 2011 from

  2. Building high performance team
    In her article “High performing teams: The ultimate competitive advantage” the author Tasche explains that high performance teams yield competitive advantage through various roles they play in various organizations. The first role played by such teams is building trust. Team members build trust in high performance teams and this helps achieve organizational goals. The other role is mastering conflict. High performance teams use strategies such as dialog to solve conflict and this helps members focus on organizational goals. High performance teams also achieve commitment even when there are diverse opinions about an issue. These divergent views are used to develop the most effective business strategy. Accountability is also another role of high performance teams and this increases efficiency by the organization. Finally, high performance teams focus on organizational goals to achieve good results and members do not focus on personal goals.
    Tasche, T. (2011). High performance teams: The ultimate competitive advantage. Retrieved on July 25, 2011 from>

  3. When you break down the basic inputs of any company you get land, labor and capital. These three inputs are like a tripod which means that each leg needs the other two in order to stand. Many companies see labor as the easiest input to cut cost with, and because of this it is important that your team be highly performing one. The Center for Organizational Design said it best, “High performance teams generate commitment. They provide the structure and a common vision that inspire people to give their best effort.” This was displayed perfectly by the example of West High School’s track team. If an organization is able to get that out of their employees, the other two inputs will fall right into place.
    Reference: Developing High Performance Teams: What They Are and How to Make Them Work. The Center for Organizational Design.

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