Ten Commitments for Building High Performance Teams

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Author: Tom Massey

Publisher: Religious Broadcasting Inc.

Reviewer: Goke Ilesanmi


High performance is very critical to the survival of any organisation or individual. And when we talk about organisational performance, teams (human beings) are catalysts for its realisation. I have decided to review this text entitled “Ten Commitments for Building High Performance Teams” as a guide on how to achieve organisational performance through effective teams. It is written by Dr. Tom Massey, a corporate leadership trainer and coach with about 20-year experience in optimising individual and organisational performance.

Team performance, according to Massey, is only as strong as the collective performance of members. This consultant says when committed, collaborative individuals with complementary skills work together, a synergistic effect takes place because total performance is greater than the sum of the individual parts. Massey adds that in other words, one-plus-one no longer equals two; instead, it equals three or even more in a high performance team environment.

He says the ten commitments outlined in this text will help you get the right people in the right positions to develop a focused, values-driven, high performing team. The author advises you to learn how to get every member to take personal ownership of your team’s success by creating shared purpose, values and strategic goals.

Massey says through this text, you will be able to gain insights into how to set up profit-sharing, establish work standards and correct performance problems in addition to creating a learning organisation that is able to adapt to the challenges of the next century.

He adds that through this text, you will be better informed on how to build a team environment where people have fun and play to win. Massey submits that you will also be able to build a team environment with increased employee retention, job satisfaction, commitment and productivity that will propel your team to championship performance.

This text is segmented into ten chapters. Chapter one is entitled “Commit to getting the right people ‘on the bus’ ”. According to the author, when you have the right people on the bus, with the right skills and a high-level commitment, regardless of whether you are a business manager or coach of a sports team, you will be successful. Massey says the first thing to start when picking the right people for your team is to develop job descriptions based on factors of success for each position.

“Great coaches and managers develop every position as if it is the most important position on the team, and it is. Remember the adage: A chain is only as strong as its weakest link,” he submits.

Massey educates that factors of success may be defined as the skills and behaviour needed to perform a job successfully within the culture operated by the team. He explains that these factors include more than simply the skills requirements. Skills requirements are essential characteristics or experiences team members must have in order to qualify for their respective positions, asserts Massey. He adds that however, there are other behavioural standards required to ensure team success.

Massey educates that when defining a position, you should first determine what the major purpose of that job is and how it fits into the overall purpose of the team. The author explains that each team member must see his or her position as a personal mission that contributes to the team’s success.

He says according to the results of a recent national study involving over 20, 000 employees in diverse industries, only 37 per cent of employees said they had a clear understanding of what their team or organisation was trying to accomplish and why; only 20 per cent were passionate about their team’s goals; and only 20 per cent said they had a clear ‘line of sight’ between their jobs and their team’s goals.

Massey stresses that in order to ensure that team members understand how their jobs contribute to the overall success of the team or organisation, they must know the purpose of the jobs, the reward of a job well done, etc.

Chapter two is entitled “Commit to greeting everyone ‘on the same page’”. According to the author here, established rules provide structure and people know what is expected of them and how they will engage one another in day-to-day interactions.

Massey says conflicts commonly arise in teams because of failed expectations caused by assumptions of one or more people. These assumptions often result from implicit agreements or standards of behaviour that have not been clarified because people do not understand the rules of engagement, expatiates Massey.

He discusses the issue of creating a team charter and says a team charter is a written document used to define the team’s purpose/vision, values and goals. Massey adds that the charter will also assist you to serve as a contract between the team and the organisation it represents.

In his words, “Charters may be developed by top management, then presented to team members, or teams can create their own charters and present them to top management. Regardless of who creates the charter, it is absolutely imperative that top management give their full endorsement to provide the team the direction and authority it needs to succeed.”

Additionally, Massey looks at the issues of developing a purpose statement; identifying team values and ground rules; developing Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-driven (SMART) strategic goals, etc.

In chapters three to six, the author analytically X-rays concepts such as committing to creating a learning environment; committing to sharing the profits and losses; committing to turning around poor performance; and committing to dancing with ‘those who brought you’.

Chapter seven is based on the subject matter of committing to win. According to Massey, if you want your team to reach levels of high performance, you must transform those moments of fear and uncertainty into opportunities for ordinary people to achieve extraordinary results.

He says the late John Wooden, hall-of-fame coaching legend once told his UCLA basketball team thus: “Men, the team that makes the most mistakes tonight will win the game!” Massey adds that Wooden encouraged his players to take risks and make more mistakes because he knew that you miss 100 per cent of the shots you never take.

According to Massey, never give naysayers a foothold in your team by allowing them to perpetuate a story of negativity. He says the story heard is the story told. Massey advises you to tell a different story, one that perpetuates a ‘play to win’ mindset that will allow you to create anything you want. Playing to win requires a commitment that even if you fail, you will never give up and never let your goals and dreams die, explains the author.

The author restates that playing to win means moving forwards regardless of what happens. “And that’s made possible when people don’t take mistakes personally,” he adds.

In chapters eight to ten, Massey discusses concepts such as committing to growing through adversity; committing to having fun; and committing to playing large.

Style-wise, this text is okay. Apart from the simplicity of the language, the mode of presentation is logical and highly didactic. What’s more, Massey employs classical allusions, starting every chapter with a quote from a legendary figure, just to achieve conceptual reinforcement and ensure easy understanding on readers’ part.

He adds “Practical Application” segment at the end of each chapter where additional tips are offered, to ensure practical involvement of readers.

However, the phrase “High Performance” in the title needs to take a hyphen (“High- Performance”) so that it becomes a compound modifier to the noun “Teams”. Also the uncountable noun “Behaviour” is pluralised in chapter two.

Generally, Massey’s intellectual efforts in this text are commendable. If you want your organisation to surpass previous achievements by building highly-effective teams, then this text is a must-read and the tips must-apply for you..


GOKE ILESANMI, Managing Consultant/CEO  of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is a Certified Public Speaker/Emcee,  Communication Specialist, Motivational Speaker, Career Management Coach, Renowned Book Reviewer, Corporate Leadership Expert and Editorial Consultant.


Tel: +234(0)8056030424; +234(0)8187499425

Email:  gokeiles2010@gmail.com; info@gokeilesanmi.com.ng

Website: www.gokeilesanmi.com.ng




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