Building High-Performance Teams

JoAnn Hackos, PhD
CIDM Director
www.infomanagementcenter.com

Based on her presentation at the October Best Practices conference, Beth Barrow (Motorola) suggested that we begin an interest group focused on performance management. I would be interested in receiving emails from those of you who might want to participate. We recognize that many managers are struggling to move staff forward, especially at a time when many opportunities arise out of a move toward content management and structured authoring.

I have long subscribed to a very useful newsletter that anyone managing people should consider. Managing People at Work is published monthly by the McMurry organization in Phoenix, AZ, and is available at mpawsubs@mcmurry.com.

In their January 2005 issue, they reference a new book by Susan Lucia Annunzio of the Hudson Highland Center for High Performance. The Center surveyed 3,000 people world wide for their publication, Contagious Success: Spreading High Performance Throughout Your Organization (Portfolio, 2004). In the newsletter article about the book, McMurry focuses on the important characteristics that distinguish high-performing groups from others: valuing people and showing them respect, optimizing critical thinking by being consistent in your own words and actions and living your values, and developing an environment in which people are encouraged to “learn, take risks, generate new ideas, and even make mistakes.”

Annunzio also points to what happens in non-performing workgroups. They are studies in micromanagement. The leaders hoard information and act for their own benefit rather than the benefit of the group. Team members feel overworked and “at the mercy of short-term goals.”

Apparently, many team members reported that the groups they work for used to be better performers. The push in many corporations toward more and more productivity increases by stressing that the workforce seems to be counter-productive. Under high-stress conditions, workers may appear to be producing more output, but the quality of their output suffers dramatically.

As managers, we need to balance the constant stress on productivity increases with opportunities to remove unnecessary work from the system. Only by creating high-performing teams will we have success in building information products that actually add value for our employers and our customers.

Please let us know at info@infomanagementcenter.com if you would like to participate in a performance management informal group.