The anatomy of a high-performance team

Analyse your own team in terms of its heterogeneity and cohesiveness

Studies comparing the performance of teams and individuals at problem solving reveal that teams tend to brainstorm problems more effectively, consider a wider range of factors, develop an enhanced logic flow, generate more new ideas and original thoughts, discuss and consider a wider range of potential solutions and implications, develop better approaches to weighing up the consequences of a range of potential actions, and solve problems more accurately and quickly.


It is generally possible to analyse the strength of a team in order to promote, enhance or improve something within the team itself to help overcome or prevent specific problems, weaknesses or hindrances. When analysing expectations, it becomes important to focus on three types of project-related outcomes, namely; knowledge, processes, and deliverables.


Knowledge includes the team's understanding of terminology, concepts, and relationships among team actions and results. Processes are the methods adopted in an effort to achieve the required results, and they include factors such as professional attitudes, self-awareness to know when project steps are executed, and self-control during transitions between project-related steps. Deliverables, quite simply, refer to the end product, which resulted from a team project activity, such as a plan, method, system, document, or process to meet specified needs.


The strongest single factors in determining a multi-disciplinary team’s performance are heterogeneity and cohesiveness.


Heterogeneity refers to the extent to which the team members are unlike each other, whether in terms of qualifications, experience, outlook or a range of other factors that could affect team performance. Generally, the greater degree of heterogeneity, the more effective the team will be at solving problems. However, the increase in efficiency is at a cost of increased discussion and conflict


Cohesiveness, on the other hand, is a combination of how much the members of the team work together in terms of how well their personal goals are aligned to the team goals, and to the overall commitment and morale of the team members. Generally the more cohesive a team is, the better it will perform. In addition, cohesive teams have a history of satisfying members’ needs in the important areas of inclusion, stress and personal anxiety reduction, and self-esteem.