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The Case for High Performance Teams
The Case for High Performance Teams

The Case for High Performance Teams

image For some time now, we have been hearing about a looming labor shortage in ‘10-15 years.’  That forecast has been out there quite a while now.  It seems odd that, even as we’re suffering higher unemployment than we are accustomed to, that this remains an almost certainty.

Why is that?  If you’ve not monitored labor trends, there are at least two key drivers.  One, is that the following generations (X-, Y-, …) are smaller than the baby boomer generation.  As the boomers begin retiring, there are fewer to replace them.  At the same time, other major parts of the world, such as India, China, and Brazil, are rapidly developing and more effectively competing for those same people we’d normally bring to the U.S.  Now, they’re returning or simply not coming to our shores to begin with.

To remain competitive, U.S. companies are going to need to become much more people-focused.  No longer can managers continue to treat their ‘staff’ with less respect than they do their family dog.  Competitiveness will not only be a function of ongoing investment, innovation, and process refinement, but also in how well a company can retain its skilled workforce.

Think about where you work, either as a manager or as employee.  Does your workplace culture support development, retention, and consideration for its people?  Or, does it feel like working at a fast food restaurant would have greater camaraderie?

One of the things I enjoyed most in my life, was the true feeling of team developed while in the U. S. Navy.  You first experience it during boot camp.  As a company of 80, marching down a sidewalk singing cadence, there is a feeling of execution, of performance, of invincibility unlike anything I had experienced before.  Later, as the member of a CNO’s SpecOps crew, it was incredible to be part of a 12- man team, flying missions in the middle of nowhere, only able to perform because you all worked together.  It becomes clear, as a trained, polished, experienced team you can accomplish things you never could otherwise.

Trained (development), polished (detail focus), and experienced (retention) teams only occur if you make an investment in them.  And these teams are a must if an organization is to be competitive into the global future.

Is your company supportive of developing high performance teams?  Or, is the culture such that you’re just a cog in the transmission, interchangeable with others sitting on a shelf in inventory?


(photo credit: Brett Nutter)


  1. Toye Begbaaji

    Thanks for putting these thoughts down. The definition of a team does seem to have changed of recent.

    Can you reference any published forecasts on the looming labor shortage?

  2. JT

    Hello Toye,


    The looming labor shortage is of global concern.  While my focus in primarily in the U.S., you can readily find concern for the topic in Australia, Canada, Thailand, and even (believe it or not) places like India.  China too, is facing smaller follow-on population sizes.  According to this article, China expects its labor population to stop growing by 2011.  That’s next year!

    Looking more at the U.S.:

    Companies Facing Labor Shortages

    The Looming Labor Crisis

    Looming Labor Shortage…Wyoming

    Bureau of Labor Statistics: Employment Projections*


    *One challenge in reviewing projections/forecasts is in making sure the numbers are equivalent.  For instance, when counting ‘job’ growth, one person can hold more than one job.  However, when counting labor workforce size, one person can only count for one person<g>.

  3. Nabil Sater


    Two of the links above “Companies Facing Labor Shortages” as well as “The Looming Labor Crisis” are from 2005 and 2007 respectively. Do you think they are still as relevant today as they were during publication.

  4. JT

    Hello Nabil,

    Yes, for the most part I do. Our current unemployment spike is a momentary deviation. The rate at which boomers create vacancies is going to outpace the subsequent generations’ abilities to back fill. On top of that, the population as a whole is not expected to be able to fill vacancies, in aggregate, as the overall economy attempts to resume growth.

    So together, economic growth combined with attrition, are forecast to outstrip the nation’s ability to provide qualified workers.

    Today’s unemployment is masking the situation. As growth resumes, this will rapidly become apparent, I believe.

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