3 Steps to Develop a High-Performing Team for Your Nonprofit - Heller Consulting

3 Steps to Develop a High-Performing Team for Your Nonprofit

Your nonprofit might have a lot of talented staff members. But are they performing at their best within your team?

Building a high-performing team takes time. It requires nurturing, developing individuals’ capabilities, and improving how those individuals work together. And it’s worth the time and effort.

Developing a high-performing team leads to greater efficiency. Your organization will get more (and better!) work done toward your mission, and you’ll get it done faster. You’ll also get greater value out of new technology and business process improvement projects. Plus, having a high-performing team often leads to greater job satisfaction and lower employee turnover.

So, what does it take to develop a high-performing team? Here are some steps to get you started:

1. Identify where your team is today.

In my work with Heller Consulting’s nonprofit clients, I recommend using the Tuckman Model to understand where your team is in their development journey. This model helps to define and identify the development of a team through phases, while providing a shared language for open discussion. The phases are:

  • Forming – This is when a team first develops and begins working together. They’re in the “getting to know you” phase of working with each other and understanding the team’s purpose.
  • Storming – This phase typically involves stepping on each other’s toes as team members try to determine their place on the team. There is a lot of conflict, resistance, and emotions. Often, teams get stuck in this phase and do not progress to the next phase.
  • Norming – In this phase, team members find their groove – understanding their role and how to get things done. They are starting to develop a healthy way to discuss conflicts and work as a cohesive team.
  • Performing – This is the ultimate stage in which all team members are working at peak performance and producing results. While there might be conflict, the team understands how to resolve it, and problem-solving is done as a team.
  • Adjourning – This phase is applicable for for short-lived teams, like project teams, and does not apply to building a high-performing team.

It’s important to note that no matter what phase you’re in, if there is a significant change to the team, you will always come back through forming. A sign of a high-performing team is one that can quickly adjust to the change and progress through storming and norming, back to performing.

2. Build a foundation of trust.

To move your team through phases of development toward becoming high performing, it’s important that they feel safe providing feedback and empowered to complete their work. This environment starts with a foundation of trust.

Two fundamental aspects of building trust are being transparent and following through on promises. Even if transparency involves saying, “I can’t share this with you because it’s confidential,” providing a statement that is honest and clear will help to build trust.

Once you establish a foundation of trust, you can then build and grow successful communication and feedback mechanisms, and eventually empower your staff to not only to do their job but to improve upon it.

3.Train your team members.

To build a high-performing team, your team members must know how to do their jobs. That might sound simple, but it does require a thoughtful approach.

For example, it’s important to provide a strong onboarding process for new team members. They need to know about the history, mission, goals, and strategies of your organization. They also need an overview of each department across your organization, what they do, and the technology/processes they use.

It’s also important to provide software and process training for new and current team members. As employees join your organization, as team members change roles, and as technology and processes change, team members must be properly trained on how to use them.

Here at Heller Consulting, we incorporate these principles of high performance into our change management services as well as the way we engage with our nonprofit clients through technology strategy, selection, and implementation projects. We work to establish a foundation of trust, keep lines of communication and feedback open, and provide training for all stakeholders in technology implementation projects.

Contact us today to learn more about how our technology strategy and implementation services can help your organization work more efficiently and effectively.

About the Author

Dana Larkin
Dana has worked in the nonprofit industry for over 10 years, specializing in operational excellence and Salesforce solutions. Past organizations she has worked for include the Daniel Pearl Foundation, mothers2mothers, and most recently Tides. She is passionate about striking a... Read More