Insights Debbie 2

I’m helping put a man on the moon

About the author: Debbie Olds is the Learning and Development Manager here at Fasthosts. She shares a unique insight into the structure of a high performing team and organisation while providing us with tips to help you create a high performing team. Debbie has an incredible wealth of knowledge and experience in management development, performance management, team building and leadership development.

Welcome to our Insights article series brought to you by the Fasthosts employees. We’ve experts in a wide range of areas such as team management, web design, networking, and much more. We believe that by tapping into the expertise within our organisation we can bring you informative and helpful advice, tips, news and views.


The year was 1961. One year on from his infamous speech, John Kennedy was being given a tour of the NASA compounds. He passed a cleaner hard at work ensuring the grounds were spotless. Kennedy stopped and asked “What do you do here?” The response he received wasn’t the one he expected.

I’m helping put a man on the moon.

Few would argue that it was an extraordinary feat: putting the first man on the moon less than 10 years after first setting out to accomplish it. A monumental moment in human history.

One factor that any organisation needs to reach the highest levels of performance is vision. Vision – and the two-way communication of the vision – both help create a high performing team and organisation.

By implementing a strong, clear vision you can establish relevant goals. These can then be communicated both vertically, reaching everyone from the CEO to third-party contractors, as well as horizontally between departments.

This communication of the organisations goals and vision also needs to be two-way. The employees throughout the business should be empowered by giving them a voice – allowing them to provide feedback that management listens to and takes action on, ensuring that they buy into the vision and are motivated by it.

People are more motivated and committed to achieving their goals if they have a sense of direction, sense of purpose – if they know where the organisation is going.

If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will do.

Motivation is a key factor to creating a high performing team. What motivates one person may not motivate another.

A fantastic model for creating an environment for extra effort to emerge within the team is called “AMO”.

AMO stands for – Ability, Motivation, Opportunity – a system for increasing the performance of individuals and teams.

  • Ability – employees need the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to do their current jobs, and be willing to learn new skills for the future.
  • Motivation – employees need to be well motivated to apply their abilities. Factors affecting motivation may be financial or include social rewards and recognition.
  • Opportunity – employees need the opportunity to perform well and add value to the organisation.

When these three factors are in place it leads to employees putting in extra effort – which makes the difference between a high performing team and one that is merely “good enough” – drive the business forward.

People who feel good about themselves produce the best results.

Meredith Belbin

In 1981 Dr. Raymond Meredith Belbin, a British researcher and management theorist, published a book called Management Teams. He presented the conclusions from his work studying how members of teams interact with each other during different tasks.

One of the key conclusions was that a high performing team has members that cover eight key roles and that there should ideally be one member of the team per role.

The ideal team consists of a Plant, Resources Investigator, Co-ordinator, Shaper, Monitor Evaluator, Team Worker, Implementer, Completer Finisher, and Specialist.

If you can create an eight person team where each person’s main strength covers one of these areas then your team has a greater chance of high performance.

It also presents a few problems, especially if you have more or less than eight people in a team. If there are fewer than eight people, team members may have to take on two roles to cover the skills gaps. And if there are more than eight people in the team then it might be a good idea to create sub groups or assign people primary and support roles.

I wish I could work for a company like yours!

So how can we identify whether a business is high performing? There are several ways beyond recognising the obvious revenue or profit gains. You can identify high performing teams with:

  • One to one feedback
  • Annual employee engagement surveys
  • Market share
  • Retention rates
  • Ease of attracting new talent

I believe creating a high performing organisation is the aim of most business owners. Whether your goal is to put a man on the moon or provide a hosting space for great websites, don’t underestimate the importance of high performing teams.

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