How to Build a High-Performing Team

by | Feb 9, 2024

Your key ingredients for business success are capital, talent, and customers. So, you already know that learning how to build a high-performing team is essential to success. But what does that look like? How do you know you have the right people in the right seats to get you where you want to go? 

My biggest headaches have always resulted from having the wrong person in a seat or the right person in the wrong seat – especially when they think they are in the right seat. Talent acquisition, improvement, and deployment are the most important jobs of a leader. 

Just as you need a customer system that paints a picture of your ideal customer with an acquisition, retention, and upsell pipeline, you need a people system that recognizes your ideal talent, then sources, upskills, and rewards. 

This framework helps you nail your ideal talent and organizational chart to achieve mission success. It’s your “Team of the Future” Framework.

Quick caveat: You will significantly benefit from this exercise if you’re a very early-stage startup. However, realize that you may have to initially place the same people (including yourself) in multiple roles rather than immediately hiring many people. Overhiring and over-titling simply increase your failure risk.

Crafting a great team goes beyond hiring the best people you can find for your existing open roles. It requires understanding the team and skills you need today and in the future, hence the team of the future.

First, be clear about what your organization of the future looks like, which means doing the necessary work of establishing your core business foundations. With clarity on what your organization of the future looks like, you can begin to build what your team of the future looks like.

A Guide to Building High-Performing Teams

High-performance teams mean the right people doing the right things in the right way, in unison.  

For CEOs and founders who already have a team, creating a system for building a high-performance “team of the future” can sometimes be difficult, but it has to be done. Things can get very complicated if the wrong team members have high-level roles too early.

We’ll assume you have the right people, but I doubt you have all you need to accomplish your mission. You may also have some wrong people. Or, you could have the right people in the wrong roles. Using your existing team for this exercise limits you.

Hence, to build a great team for the future, don’t build your organizational chart around the current people alone. If you focus on the people you already have, you may set yourself up for failure by optimizing for what you have instead of creating what you need.

“Trust the process and the team you need will become clear.”

1. Know Where You’re Going: Vision and Mission Clarity

Start by asking yourself these questions:

  1. Do we understand our mission?
  2. Are we clear on our vision?
  3. What outcomes do we need to achieve our mission and realize our vision? 

If you and your team cannot answer these questions, revisit your core foundations before you start thinking about your team.

2. Getting There: Skills Mapping

You’ve got your destination, and your team’s skills and expertise make up the path there. What high-level skills will your talent need to possess for every major goal needed to accomplish your mission? List them out and be as detailed as possible. 

This process is deliberate on purpose. Focus on specific, demonstrable skills – not the roles or titles. For example, if your mission requires delighted customers who rave about you, don’t just say “customer service.” Think about the skills that make for a great customer service leader within that environment.

3. Bringing It All Together: Role Synthesis

Now, you can start identifying the roles you need. Take the skills you’ve listed and start grouping them into roles. Did you list “SEO,” “audience creation,” and “ad campaign creation?” Looks like your team of the future includes a variation of a growth marketer, probably not yet a brand marketing expert.

Not every skill fits neatly into a role, and that’s okay. It’s part of what makes every team unique. Be sure to note these attributes so they can guide your decision-making. For example, you know the core skills, and when two candidates demonstrate them, but one also has a skill that does not fit neatly, you know your winner.

Construct a chart with the roles and skills you’ve identified: this is your map to the team of the future. Periodically perform this exercise.

Making It Happen

With the roadmap in front of you, it’s time to execute. Your job as a leader is to find the right people to put in the right seats over time. 

How do you do it?

1. Look Internally

Are there gaps that someone already on your team could fill? Look for opportunities for upskilling. Identify team members with growth potential. Coach them to give them the skills they need to fulfill that future role. Invest in professional development to get them where they need to be. 

2. Build a Hiring System

Hiring is a critical component of being successful as a business.  That means it needs a system.

“Let your hiring system be the hero.”

Every company’s system looks different. The key is clarity on what you need and how you evaluate it. You’re essentially building a talent funnel, like your customer acquisition funnel.

Work together as a team to describe your ideal hiring profile. Then, decide how you’ll evaluate it. Will you use assessments? One-on-one conversations? Group interviews? 

Sometimes, you’ll get it wrong – it’s impossible to hire 100% accurately. You just work with your team to tweak the system and keep improving.

As a leader, you should always be recruiting and periodically redoing your “team of the future” exercise with your leadership team.

The Bottom Line

Building a high-performing team takes work and time, but there is no large-scale success without the right team.

Be clear about your mission and values, the skills you need to accomplish your mission, and the system for evaluating, upscaling, and rewarding people.


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