29 February, 2020

What really drives a high-performing team

What really drives a high-performing team

What is it that makes a great employer? Is it all subjective, or are there some common and essential ingredients?
According to Nicki Drinkwater, Coca-Cola Amatil's General Manager of Public Affairs, Communications & Sustainability - Alcohol & Coffee, there are a few factors that have the greatest influence in high performance teams and they all down to culture - it's less about who, and more about how.

She believes the biggest opportunity for leaders in today's disruptive, agile and connected world is not what they bring or even what their team brings, but how they create an environment where the team's impact is more than the sum of its parts.

"This is often cited as the critical factor in defining victories and successful teams In the world of professional sport" she notes. "And recent Google research found it holds true in the corporate environment. What really mattered was less about who is on the team, and more about how the team worked together.

"From my experience, great leaders create cultures that demonstrate true honesty, embrace constructive tension, consistently empower others, and constantly challenge for the best outcome – not only do they get the best out of others, they feel the most energised and fulfilled, and ultimately they drive sustainable high performance."

Drinkwater was proud to accept an award for Coca-Cola Amatil's Kids@Work program at the inaugural EnergyFest19 Awards last month.

The EnergyFest19 Awards celebrate Australian and international organisations and leaders for cultural leadership through employee engagement and experience.

Kids@Work earned Amatil the runner-up award in the overall best employer category.

Drinkwater reveals her top three ingredients for creating a great corporate culture.

1. Psychological safety

Drinkwater says she believes this is the number one attribute for achieving great outcomes.

"I really related to a recent article by Suzie McInerney, Why high performing teams are the most uncomfortable. In the past, you'd often hear management speak proudly about teams and businesses where 'everyone was on the same page’ or 'everyone got along so well'. Thankfully now most leaders recognise the tangible business benefits of diverse teams in bringing different perspectives to the table.

"But high performance means taking it a step further and encouraging constructive tension and embracing extreme candour, even demanding differences in opinion. It was hugely inspiring to hear our Group Managing Director Alison Watkins and fellow leaders Peter West and Shane Richardson talk about this recently, acknowledging how active we need to be in encouraging this to support an engaged and inspired workforce."

2. Trust

"At Alcohol & Coffee we defined this behaviour as ensuring our people have the freedom and trust to be their best selves and work and at home," she said.

"I love the way Rich Hirst described this at EnergyFest19 as 'Context' in his high performance equation, HP = MC squared, defining high performance as a product of mindframe (M) and context (C). The square in the equation reflects the exponential impact of context (he uses mindframe to reflect the fact that a mind is not set).

"In our team environment, the value of flexibility and trust comes because it's something everyone can embrace. While it might result in initiatives that benefit specific groups, like families and carers, the real organisational significance of programs like Kids@Work is that they offer visceral proof of a cultural commitment (and in the case of 25+ kids per day in your office, very vocal!) which brings permissibility and helps empower everyone to be their best self, whatever that means for them. Awards like #EnergyFest19 are really rewarding because they acknowledge and help share this broader cultural commitment".

3. Purpose and impact

"As humans, what gets us up in the morning is being connected to or part of a worthwhile cause and feeling like you're making a difference," Drinkwater explains.

"Having that sense of purpose for what you do or the team you do it with, feeling part of a greater good, is a determining factor in high performance teams. In the sporting world, it's why every man or woman of the match gives the credit to their team, and why every elite sportsperson will tell you they'd always trade individual glory for a team victory. In fact they'll put their body on the line for it, day in, day out.

"As businesses, we often instil purpose in mission statements, and recognise impact through feedback and gratitude. Great leaders don’t motivate, they inspire. In the words of Simon Sinek, they Start with Why, because people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it."