How to build a high performance team

How to build a high performance team

Teams come in all shapes, sizes and types…such as marital partnerships, families, sports teams, political parties, small business and large corporates.

Regardless of the type of team though, there is a process that can be applied to accelerate team performance. You will be introduced to this process shortly.

First though is this cold-hard reality about success – be it in business, sport or any other performance endeavour for that matter.  And the reality is that:

Human behaviour is the core driver of performance and success

In other words, our behaviour determines our results.

Now having said that, it is important to understand that there are many factors that dictate how well an individual or team performs. Put simply, high performance/behaviour is not just about having the right skills or being mentally tough.  Other factors that affect performance include:

  • Clarity of vision
  • Strength of leadership
  • Strategic positioning
  • Environmental factors and uncontrollables
  • Structure and systems
  • Personality type
  • Response to stress
  • Ethnicity
  • Religious affiliation
  • Genetics (Nature)
  • Upbringing (Nurture)
  • Social status
  • Personal values, beliefs and worldview
  • Team culture and dynamics (Values and beliefs in action)
  • Skill sets (Technical, mental, social and emotional)
  • Relationships (And whether they are high-functioning or dysfunctional)
  • Strategic alignment
  • Training and practice

Some performance and HR experts believe that all you need to do to improve individual or team performance is put people on a training course or give them a pep talk. Oftentimes though this approach is too short-sighted. As an example, there’s often no point sending someone on a training course to upskill, when that person’s values system is at odds with the organizational culture.

The secret?  It all boils down to this simple equation:

Success = High performance mindset x Good strategy x Skilful strategy execution

It can’t be any simpler than this.  

This equation highlights the need to take a strategic approach to high performance and look at all the factors that determine performance results, such as those outlined above. Don’t cherry pick a short-term “solution” in the hope that it will solve the problem. Be strategic.

How to be strategic?  First, you need to apply a strategic high performance model.  Second, you need to build a team using principles of strategic human resources and behaviour.

To help you apply these approaches, let me introduce you to the Champion Team Formula and STARMAP.


The Champion Team Formula is built upon my view that getting people to perform to their best requires a strategic approach to people development and performance. In other words, it’s not just about throwing in an advert for a new employee and hoping for the best, or sending your people on a leadership course.

The model integrates elements of business, sporting and personal performance into a comprehensive blueprint for developing and improving high performance.  As a result, it can be effectively applied to a number of domains, including:

  • Business growth and development
  • Career development
  • Improving sports performance (individual and team sports)
  • Developing and improving personal performance (weight loss, health and fitness, personal relationships)

As the model shows, the centre piece in all performance endeavours is human behaviour, which can be measured on four levels – physical or technical, mental, social and emotional.  To optimize performance, a strategic process must be implemented.  This encompasses the following steps:

    1. Spark a vision and values
    2. Establish your master mind or leadership group
    3. Analyze and develop your strategy/game plan
    4. Create your team culture and brand
    5. Identify required skills, roles and behavior patterns. Who do we need? What will be their roles, tasks, accountabilities and rewards?
    6. Recruit good buggers via behavioral patterning.  Use STARMAP, which represents the 7 keys to identifying the best talent.  These 7 keys are soft skills (emotional intelligence), technical skills and tools, academic background, relationship and culture fit, motivational and values drivers, achievements and track record, and personality and thinking type.
    7. Develop culture and relationships.
    8. Improve your team’s skill base and strategy using effective “Game Sense” training, coaching and mentoring. Adapted from high performance sport, Game Sense is one of the most powerful performance improvement concepts you will ever learn.  Coaching needs to focus on developing emotional intelligence, technical skills and strategy.
    9. Execute and manage your strategy with purpose. Build a high performance environment through Example-driven Leadership. Ensure that behavior – particularly at the leadership level – matches proclaimed values. In other words, “being the sermon”, and not “giving a sermon.”

It doesn’t matter what type of organization you run – be it a corporation, small business, sports team, non-profit – these steps must be followed if you want to build and maintain high performance.

The STARMAP Visual

As introduced above, STARMAPS is a talent ID and recruitment process which focuses on the 7 key attributes of high-performers. Here is a visual overview of STARMAP.


Unfortunately, when it comes to recruitment and team-building, most leaders rank potential team members in perhaps 2-3 of these 7 keys.  But, to get the highest performers, they need to rank highly in all 7 areas.

When you take a strategic approach to high performance and recruit team members using a method such as STARMAP, your overall strategy will be much stronger, and you will execute your strategy more successfully.