Knowledge Center: Publication

Team Effectiveness

Accelerating Performance in Teams

10/30/2018 Heidrick & Struggles
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The ability of an organization to accelerate its performance—in other words, to build and change momentum to get results more quickly than its competitors—is critically dependent on its teams at every level. However, most organizations fail to sufficiently consider the performance of teams when seeking performance improvements overall. Indeed, the vast majority of management research on organizations focuses on either the whole organism or the individual leader; the team is often forgotten.

After forensically studying data on the dynamics and performance of 3,000 teams across a wide number of organizations, functions, and geographies, in industries as diverse as banking, private equity, insurance, engineering, telecommunications, healthcare, and charitable institutions, we have uncovered both bad and good news.1  The bad news is that most teams—especially senior executive teams—struggle to build and change momentum quickly. But on the upside, the value that can be found by improving a team’s ability to accelerate performance is enormous. Indeed, our research finds that high-achieving teams enjoy a 22.8% boost in financial performance compared with underachieving teams (figure). Moreover, we find that high-achieving teams reduce costs more quickly, go to market more effectively, and launch products more smoothly.

Accelerating Performance in Teams

Though the specific plan for each team will differ, the method to accelerate teams involves mobilizing, executing, and transforming with agility (META). We have identified 16 drive factors aligned with the META framework that accelerate team performance.

Teams that follow our targeted recommendations for how to improve team performance throughout the organization will be well positioned to improve the acceleration of their teams and increase their odds of achieving breakthrough performance gains faster than their competitors.

To read the full report, flip through the interactive version above or click the download button for the PDF.


The findings in this article are drawn from a multiyear research project that underpins Colin Price and Sharon Toye’s recent book, Accelerating Performance: How Organizations Can Mobilize, Execute, and Transform with Agility (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2017). The research included a survey of 20,000 global leaders, investigation into the performance of 3,000 teams, and extensive research into the FT 500, including interviews with senior executives at top-performing organizations we call “superaccelerators.”

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