Building a world-class team in five simple steps

By Adam Kurdas

Published on 01-01-2013

Building a world-class team in five simple steps

Many corporate performance improvement activities focus on developing leadership skills. But is it possible to get a team to not only manage themselves, but also continually strive to improve their own performance to a world-class level?

In his book Scores on the BoardTM - the 5-Part System for Building Skills, Teams and Businesses, author Bill Lang provides a set of practical, repeatable steps that cover most skill development and performance improvement activities. Here they are in a nutshell...

1. Vision

High-performing teams have a common vision - a compelling picture of the future they can work towards. It should be short and emotionally meaningful to the team. An effective vision is aspirational; it represents a perfect scenario or 'team utopia' which provides the team with a clear sense of purpose. All team members should be involved in creating the vision so they each have an emotional investment in striving to reach it.

Using the vision as a basis for all other activities ensures the team remains focused on what is most important.

2. Goals

Smaller, more attainable goals help the team stay on track to achieving their overall vision. Goals give clarity about what the team will focus on in the short term, and provide a sense of achievement along the way. Goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

3. Feedback

External feedback enables the team to objectively assess its performance, and identify ways to improve. Get feedback from internal and external stakeholders, and from team members, in a regular and systematic fashion. Always ask for specific suggestions on how performance can be improved.

4. Gap analysis

Periodically, the team should compare where they are (determined by feedback) to where they want to be (goals). Then identify the causes of any gaps, differentiating between causes within the team's control to fix, and those outside their control. Only focus on the things you can control - these will form the basis of your actions.

5. Action

The team can now develop and agree to an action plan to bridge the gap between the team's goals and their current performance. Action plans should be simple and pragmatic. Display tasks, responsibilities and due dates prominently so all team members are aware of their obligations.

Following these five simple steps has helped thousands of team members the world over achieve significant improvements. The system works across industries and functions, and avoids the expense and lost productivity of team-wide training. Importantly, it provides an ongoing framework for continually developing and reinforcing behaviours that drive performance to a world-class level.

It all starts with an effective team vision. To access Bill Lang's free Vision Creation Kit, visit and click on 'Free resources'.