The Science Behind High-Performing Teams

Noelle Ihli

Unlocking Amy Edmonson’s Team Learning Model

How can leaders turn a good team into an excellent one? 

Amy Edmonson’s Team Learning Model breaks down the conditions, beliefs, behaviors, and performance indicators that separate the good from the great. 

This blog post will explore Edmonson’s model—the ultimate framework for cultivating team greatness. So get ready to learn practical insights about where your team has room to grow and helpful strategies to bring everyone closer to their full potential. 

Let's dive in!

Conditions: Creating the Fertile Soil

You'll need to create the right conditions to set the stage for growing an exceptional team. Think of this step as tending the soil before planting seeds. Here's what you need:

1. Leaders as Coaches: Goodbye, old-school bosses! Exceptional teams thrive under leaders who act as coaches and mentors instead of unapproachable traffic directors. These leaders guide, support, and multiply the efforts of their team members.

2. Ample Resources: Give your team the tools to shine. Ensure everyone has sufficient resources—relevant and up-to-date tools, financial support, and skills—to accomplish their goals.

3. Information Flow: Break down those silos! Encourage a culture of free-flowing information, where data is shared openly across the organization. Knowledge is power, after all, and a culture of transparency helps everyone make good decisions.

4. Clarity is Key: Don’t let your team wander in the dark. Ensure everyone understands how you measure success and make decisions—and where to go for resources and support when they need them.

Beliefs: The Glue That Holds Teams Together

With the right conditions, shared beliefs become the heart of exceptional teams. These beliefs bind team members together and fuel success. Here are the key beliefs you need to establish:

1. Psychological Safety: Create an environment where team members feel safe to take risks, share their thoughts, and be themselves. It's all about fostering trust and open communication.

2. Diversity: Variety is the spice of life—and teams! Encourage diverse perspectives and stay open to new ideas. Diversity sparks innovation and fresh ways to solve challenges.

3. Purpose and Impact: Give your team a clear sense of their purpose within the company and meaningful goals to focus on. When everyone understands why their work matters, their commitment to that work increases.

4. Continuous Learning: Keep the growth mindset alive! Encourage a culture of continuous learning where team members prioritize self-improvement and industry-specific knowledge. 

5. Reliability and Dependability: Trust is the cornerstone belief of exceptional teams. Foster a culture of dependability, where team members can rely on each other to deliver top-notch work.

Learning Behaviors: Unleashing Team Superpowers

With the right conditions and beliefs in place, it’s time to tackle the behaviors that separate high-performing teams from the rest. These are the superpowers that make magic happen:

1. Active Listening: Give your full attention and listen with empathy. It's not just about hearing words; it's about truly understanding and valuing each team member's perspective.

2. Collaborative Problem-Solving: Foster a collaborative environment where team members work together, leveraging their collective intelligence to tackle challenges and find innovative solutions.

3. Powerful Curiosity: Encourage your team to explore new ideas, ask questions, and continuously seek fresh insights. Curiosity fuels creativity and growth.

4. Big-Picture Thinking: Help your team understand the bigger picture. Encourage them to look beyond immediate tasks and consider the broader context, enabling better decision-making and problem-solving.

Bridging Team Learning Gaps: Skills for Success

Teams face challenges of all sizes. But the scope of each challenge matters less than how you approach them. Equip your team with the right skills to overcome any hurdle together:

1. Learn Together: Encourage skill development as a team, not just individually. Invest in training, workshops, and knowledge-sharing to let team members practice supporting and collaborating. (Hint: A book club is one of the best ways to do this!)

2. Tackle Challenges Head-On: Encourage your team to embrace challenges as opportunities for growth instead of roadblocks. Praise effort and tenacity rather than results to help your team cultivate resilience and a can-do attitude.

High-Performing Teams: Soaring to New Heights

Exceptional teams are defined by their performance. This is where your team’s conditions, beliefs, and behaviors come together. Here's how great teams measure and display greatness:

1. Meet and Exceed Expectations: Great teams consistently meet or surpass expectations, whether by delivering high-quality work, meeting deadlines, or providing exceptional service. 

2. Strive for Excellence: Great teams set high standards for themselves and others. Encourage a culture of excellence where each team member takes pride in their work and strives for continuous improvement.

3. Celebrate Success: Recognize and celebrate achievements along the way. Celebrating milestones boosts morale and motivates everyone to keep pushing forward.

Unleash Your Team's Potential Through the Team-Learning Model

Building exceptional teams isn’t just a goal; it's an ongoing journey. By understanding and applying the Team-Learning Model (and identifying the areas where your team has room to grow!), you'll gain the tools you need to reach new heights of success.

If you're hungry for more insights and want to dive deeper into the science of exceptional teams and this learning model, check out the whitepaper "An Exceptional Team is Closer Than You Think.” It's a complete guide to the conditions, beliefs, and behaviors that will help your team soar to new levels of performance and success.

About the author

Noelle is a content creator, author, and editor. She lives in Idaho with her husband, two sons, and two cats. When she's not writing, she's either reading a good book or scaring herself with true-crime documentaries.

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