Do you have a bunch of stars, a team of people, or a High Performance Unit (HPU)?
World class individuals and teams succeed because they are part of a High Performance Unit.
Cycling is a sport that is perceived to be an individual event. However, it’s more about the High Performance Unit rather than the individual, as demonstrated by British Cycling and Team Sky in the Tour de France.
Recent TV documentaries on Bradley Wiggins and Victoria Pendleton uncovered some valuable nuggets – highlighting how the cracks that appear in the support team directly impact on performance and results. There is a clear correlation between the unity of the High Performance Unit and the results on the track or road. The difference is measured in centimetres and fractions of a second; the difference between being world champion and being second.
So what’s the difference between a Team and a High Performance Unit (HPU)?
In my experience as a business strategist boosting the effectiveness and performance of MDs of owner managed and family run businesses, a team is the visible presence, the players on the field, the sales people on the road and the people on the help desk.
A High Performance Unit is the visible plus the invisible people, the behind the scenes people the support workers. In motor racing it’s the drivers as well as the team management, designers, engineers, mechanics, pit crews, race strategists, dieticians, trainers etc.
In discussions with sports psychologist Simon Hartley who is spearheading conferences in Yorkshire and the North East to inspire the region’s business leaders and entrepreneurs to harness world class techniques – I learned his research has identified four keys building blocks of a High Performance Unit?
1. A Clear Purpose and Goal
There is one simple purpose or goal which is known and understood by everyone involved in the HPU. For Team Sky it was – Within five years to be the first British team to win the Tour de France. They did it with two years to spare.
2. Total Alignment
Everything, every person and what they do is directly and clearly related to the goal of the HPU and everyone knows what each other does and why – along with the contribution each makes towards the achievement of purpose and goal. Everyone is valued, everyone counts towards the success – and every person’s contribution is equal.
3. 100% Buy In
The pig and the chicken were walking down the road when they passed a sign outside a cafe saying “All Day English Breakfast”, after some thought the pig turned to the chicken and said “The difference between you and me is, you are involved in the breakfast – you provide the eggs while I’m fully committed to the meal! Doing just enough is not acceptable in an HPU, its all or nothing. Turf wars and empire building have no place in HPUs.
4. Truth and Honesty
There are no secrets in HPUs – either professional or personal. Openness, honesty and trust are the glue that holds the unit together. Yes there are going to be differences, disagreements and fierce conversations however, the key is they are ‘Carefrontational’ – we care about each other which means we have the courage to confront the uncomfortable in the pursuit of the purpose and goal of the team. Victoria Pendleton’s performance after the Beijing Olympics was not about her determination and ability to win – it was a consequence of a breakdown of trust and honesty within her HPU.
For help in creating your own High Performance Unit leave a comment below, or e-mail me via email@example.com, go to @richardwhatif on Twitter, Richard Bosworth on LinkedIn or post on www.whatifforums.com.