Why you're failing at developing high-performance work teams

four colleagues gathered around a computer with smiles from to developing and sustaining high performing work teams

There's tons of advice out there on developing and sustaining high-performance work teams—so why are organizations still struggling to do it? Nearly 1 in 5 new hires quit in their first week1, and the 68% who stay but aren't engaged with their work2 cost the global economy roughly $7.8 trillion a year in lost productivity.3 Yikes.

The main problem is that there's no "one size fits all" when it comes to building successful teams—it differs depending on each organization's needs. So, what if you could predict—with 90+% accuracy— who your top performers will be before you even send them an offer letter? What if you could identify your existing high performers and set them up for success, and even identify your low performers, too, and coach them to become high performers?

The technology now exists that makes that—and so much more—possible. Fingerprint for Success (F4S) is a first-of-its-kind performance and collaboration platform that combines 20+ years of research with AI technology to help teams identify their strengths and blind spots and develop top performers.

Read on to find out how it works and how you can get started for free.

Table of contents
What is a high-performance work team?
What makes a high performer?
How to identify and model your high performers by building a custom XFactor Model for your business
Does the XFactor Model work? Case studies with real results
How to develop your high-performance work team
Get started on developing and sustaining high-performance work teams with F4S

What is a high-performance work team?

See, here's the thing: Everyone says they want a high-performance work team, but no one can define exactly what that looks like. That's because a high-performing team looks different in every organization.

Generally speaking, a high-performing team is one that communicates effectively, possesses the skills necessary to excel, understands individual and organizational goals, and is able to achieve both.

But speaking in generalities isn't helpful when it comes to developing and sustaining high-performance work teams at your organization, now, is it? Because without a specific roadmap that's catered to your business needs, you won't know how to get there.

The thing is, there is no single playbook to create a high-performance team. For every team and every role at your organization, the criteria for "high performer" will be different. Yet, many companies try to take a one-size-fits-all approach, which is why so many fail at actually developing and sustaining high-performance teams.

That's why every assessment of a high performer must take into account the unique needs of each individual organization.

What makes a high performer?

That's a great question and one that F4S has committed to answering through research.

Starting in:

The F4S assessment: Based on 20+ years of work motivation research

The F4S assessment is not a personality test. Rather, it's a measure of each individual's unique motivations; unlike personality, motivations are science-backed traits or affinities that influence the way we work, communicate, digest information, and make decisions.

This is crucial because the prevailing belief, backed by research, is that personality traits are pretty stable4 (they typically don't change much over time). So when an employee takes a personality test for a job, they can feel stuck or pigeonholed because if their personality isn't the "right" fit for the role, it seems there's little they can do to change that.

Motivations, however, are changeable, so you can turn a blind spot into a strength! In fact, that's what F4S focuses on, a growth mindset. Employees are not punished for having blind spots (traits where they score low in relation to the role); blind spots are just opportunities for growth, and we actively work toward strengthening those areas through coaching.

We score motivations along a spectrum with a numbered score. The farther away the score goes from zero in the positive direction, the more motivated you are by that specific trait. The farther away the score goes from zero in the negative direction, the less motivated you are by that specific trait.

F4S dashboard shows individuals motivations on a scale
F4S dashboard

Here's an example: One of the 48 motivations that F4S research has identified is External Reference, which is the level of importance one places on seeking external data, research, and feedback before making a decision. Someone who scores 165 on External Feedback is highly motivated by asking others for their opinions before they decide.

So, as a team leader, if you know one of your direct reports is highly motivated by External Feedback, you will demotivate them by telling them to decide now without allowing them to seek advice. Conversely, you will motivate them by connecting them to experts they can consult with before having them make the decision.

We don't want to throw around the word "science-backed" without showing you the research we've published over the past two decades. (Below are just some of the papers; dive in-depth into all of our research here.)

  • Can Entrepreneurial Success be Predicted 2016: This 15-year qualitative and quantitative study looked at businesses in three different categories: entrepreneurs (founders who started and exited a business within five years), business builders (founders/owners who profitably grew a business over 10+ years, and bankrupt (those who were currently bankrupt from a failed business). It then identified the work attitudes and motivations that set the successful founders apart from those that failed in business.
  • Startup Genome - Entrepreneurial Mindset 2018: For this study, F4S along with Startup Genome asked founders around the world about their founder mindset to identify the mental attributes crucial to entrepreneurship. It featured more than 12,000 survey participants and over one hundred interviewees.
  • She Loves Tech 2022 report: F4S and She Loves Tech analyze 2020 data from more than 2,000 tech startups in 60+ countries.

What is the F4S XFactor Model?

Simply put, the F4S XFactor Model is a scientifically proven way of identifying low, medium, and high performers, building a model of the unique motivations that drive high performers, and then developing and sustaining high-performance work teams by starting at the individual level.

An "XFactor" is the "secret sauce" that makes a recipe for success. The F4S XFactor Model is a science-backed method of using statistical analysis and contrastive assessment to identify the common characteristics that distinguish high performers from medium and low performers.

That specific group's XFactor Model is at the confluence of those key characteristics, and it can be used as a benchmark against which organizations, team leaders, teams, and specific roles can measure their progress. From there, you can conduct interventions to develop employees and coach them to succeed against shared goals.

F4S develops XFactor Models for specific roles at 2 levels

Global (Broad)

These global-level XFactor Models are loaded into the F4S platform and made available to the general public for benchmarking and ranking. That means anyone can take the F4S assessment and see how their 48 traits stack up against Entrepreneurs and Business Builders.

So far, we've built global XFactor Models for:

Organization (Narrow)

These organizational-level XFactor Models are developed for your organization and are not available to the general public. These allow you to craft a custom model for specific roles, such as sales representative or product manager, to identify and develop high performers.

Why does this matter?

Imagine what you could do if you had a personalized map to success for each role in your organization, an evidence-based way to predict who would be the best fit for each position.

Here are some uses for the F4S XFactor Model:

How to identify and model your high performers by building a custom XFactor Model for your business

Step 1: Have all team members take the evidence-based F4S assessment

It all begins with the F4S assessment, which takes 15-30 minutes to complete, and results are available online instantly.

This alone will give you a wealth of information about what makes your team tick, identifying everything from individual communication style preferences to the biggest sources of potential conflict among your team members (and how you can leverage this for productivity).

Step 2: Identify the high, mid, and low performers in a specific role of your choosing

What qualifies as a "high performer" varies by organization and role, which is why we let you decide which individuals are categorized as such.

Step 3: The F4S team runs your custom XFactor Analysis

We'll take it from here! Using the data from your team's completed F4S assessments and information you've given us on your low to high performers, we'll create a custom XFactor Analysis to identify which traits are necessary to be a high performer in this role at your company.

Step 4: F4S team presents the results

To help you understand how to leverage these insights, the F4S team will present a quantitative analysis for review. We'll then fine-tune the XFactor Model with qualitative input from your team.

Step 5: Load your custom XFactors into F4S for use in future hiring and development

Lastly, we'll load your custom XFactors into your F4S dashboard so you can use them in future hiring and development. The next time you're evaluating job candidates, you can have them take the F4S assessment, and F4S will load their information into the platform and benchmark these candidates against your top performers in the given role. You'll also be able to look at your existing team members, benchmark them against top performers and receive AI-powered performance coaching through Coach Marlee to develop their motivations to align with the high performers.

Accelerate understanding between teams

Breadth

An illustration of a woman holding a circle object on her hand.

Motivated by macro big picture thinking, these teammates value moving quickly to connect dots between abstract ideas to 'get the gist' of things.

Chart showing rage from Average, High and Ver High.

vs

Depth

An illustration of a woman holding and using a protractor on her right hand.

These teammates value being concrete and specific, getting into details to understand the steps or tasks required.

Chart showing rage from Average, High and Ver High.

See the different work styles in your team

Take the free assessment & set up your team

Does the XFactor Model work? Case studies with real results

Canva uses F4S at the core of its people strategy

Since October 2017, Canva, a tech unicorn with more than 130 million monthly active users and thousands of employees, has used F4S to optimize employee performance. One way Canva leverages our platform is by benchmarking teams against the F4S XFactor Models for both starting up and scaling up ventures and using the data to build a successful internal coaching program to develop employees.

The Singapore Tourism Accelerator used F4S to predict the top startups in the program—with 100% accuracy

Organized by the Singapore Tourism Board, the Singapore Tourism Accelerator (STA) selects the most innovative companies that are attempting to future-proof the industry as it navigates the post-pandemic travel and tourism terrain. Using F4S, the STA measured the motivations of each cohort and, 6 months ahead of the final demo day, predicted the top 2 startups who both had secured pilot projects with top partners.

Early-stage venture capital firm Investible uses F4S to de-risk investments and identify high-potential founders

Australian VC Investible uses the F4S Entrepreneur XFactor Model to evaluate early-stage investments and coach the founders of the companies in its portfolio. Though 60% of startups in Australia fail within their first 3 years and 90% fail overall, Investible's portfolio failure rate is only 12%.

Many companies have leveraged F4S in hiring

Companies that use F4S require 90% fewer interviews to identify the right hire and see a 752% return on investment in 1 year. Imagine how much better your recruitment, hiring, and onboarding process can be when you understand what makes each person thrive.

How to develop your high-performance work team

Okay, so now you've got your custom XFactor Model. What do you do with it? Here's where things get truly powerful because you'll be able to use science-backed, quantitative insights to build the highest-performing teams.

Form high-performing teams based on individual strengths

Team building matters. Using F4S, you can form an effective team made up of individuals with complementary talents. One team member's blind spot will be another team member's strength. That way, you can leverage each person's unique strengths to ensure all blind spots are covered and that the team is able to use critical thinking to make the best decisions.

Create measurable goals

No more guesswork. You'll be able to see the exact score an individual has in a certain motivation and actively work toward making that score higher or lower, depending on the identified desirable motivations in the XFactor Model. Map individual and team goals to business success.

Identify and adapt to work styles

In F4S, we've identified specific traits that fall under the Work Approach category, which is how someone feels motivated to do their work. By being able to understand how each team member scores in this category (and in other categories), you can better set up the company environment for success!

For example, you might discover that your product managers are highly motivated by Structure (one of the Work Approach traits). This makes sense, as product managers are tasked with developing and sticking to a product roadmap, gathering feedback from customers, finding alignment between team functions, and collaborating with the engineering team to make sure the project is on track.

By understanding their preferred work style of Structure, you'll know not to surprise them with new tasks or rush them to "get started ASAP" on something. Rather, you'll be able to adapt to their ideal work style by giving them plenty of time to organize and plan.

Identify and motivate high-potential talent

Let's say your top sales reps all score highly in Affective Communication, meaning they're very motivated by non-verbals (tone of voice, facial expressions, body language, etc). In this case, you can devise ways to further motivate them to do their best work by opting for video calls or in-person meetings versus text communication; that way, they can take in your "non-verbals" and better understand you.

For the low-performing sales reps, you can help them move toward a higher score in Affective Communication by enrolling them in our online, self-paced Increase EQ coaching program, which develops emotional intelligence and helps people "read" others better, a crucial skill for salespeople.

Increase team cohesion

Team cohesion does not mean team homogeneity. A cognitively diverse team actually has better business outcomes. The challenge for managers of diverse teams, however, is that because each individual thinks differently, there can be a bit more conflict. As long as one knows how to manage those differences and optimize team dynamics, this can be a healthy thing.

When each person understands the motivations behind the behaviors of team members, they'll have healthier conflict resolution. F4S will create a Culture Map of your team, allowing you to see how each person approaches and responds to things, so you can address issues and friction points and leverage differences for the better. This creates a collaborative team culture, regardless of differences.

F4S culture map sows this team is tolerant and inclusive
F4S team culture

Create a culture of continuous learning with F4S AI and human coaching

F4S promotes a growth mindset, understanding that every individual has the ability to change for the better. Because of that, we offer AI coaching through Coach Marlee as well as human coaching. Further, we provide insights within the F4S platform that your management team can use to complete their own coaching on direct reports.

Get started on developing and sustaining high-performance work teams with F4S

Need help identifying and developing your high performers? It's all about realizing that everyone can be a high performer when they're placed in a position best suited to their strengths and given the coaching they need for growth. This requires the right knowledge, proper tools, effective leadership, and mutual trust.

F4S sets you up for success. Our powerful people analytics and performance platform works for hybrid and virtual teams, regardless of team size. It cultivates a healthier company culture, where everyone can work toward team goals, business goals, and the business vision.

High-performing teams don't just happen—they're made

Cultivate a high-performance culture by identifying the unique motivations of each individual team member, building effective leaders, and boosting team performance through coaching.

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  1. Schwantes, M. (2019) 'The Surprising Reason Why So Many Employees Quit Within the First 6 Months'. Available at: Inc. https://www.inc.com/marcel-schwantes/surprising-reason-why-employees-quit.html
  2. Harter, J. (2023) 'U.S. Employee Engagement Needs a Rebound in 2023'. Available at: Gallup. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/468233/employee-engagement-needs-rebound-2023.aspx
  3. Pendell, R. (2022) 'The World's $7.8 Trillion Workplace Problem'. Available at: Gallup. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/393497/world-trillion-workplace-problem.aspx
  4. Bleidorn, W. 'How Personality Traits Change Over Time'. Available at: American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/pubs/highlights/podcasts/episode-30#:~:text=Two%20seminal%20meta%2Danalyses%20have,changes%20in%20their%20personality%20traits.

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