Methods of Building High-Performing Teams
Knowing that teams are the most integral part of software development, companies need them to be high-performing and functional.
Building high-performing teams may become critical and challenging for many companies, especially with the changes in the working mode, where the majority of the companies work a hybrid or fully remote setting or have teams consisting of employees from both working modes.
Let’s go over the key characteristics of high-performing teams overall, and from there, delve deeper into the principles that contribute to building high-performing teams for the working mode mentioned above.
General Key Characteristics of a High-Performing Team
Here is a short overview of what makes employees perform consistently well:
- Clear communication of values and ensuring that employees embody the company values.
- Defined expectations and regular feedback.
- An environment of trust and commitment.
- Engagement activities.
- Enabling and supporting team members for continuous professional development.
Once the company makes its policies easily accessible and understandable and regularly reinforces their importance, employees will start to consider them as a trusted source whenever they experience doubt in their day-to-day work.
It’s important to transform company values into team values and ensure that they are truly accepted at an individual level.
However, experiences, whether positive or negative, tend to happen in the opposite way when individuals are first impacted by action or behavior.
Now, there comes the challenge of keeping the team committed to the tasks and the project. It’s not only about having the best resources with the right skills because you may be lucky enough to attract and hire them. But for them to perform at their maximum, it takes additional and continuous effort.
It’s more about how to make them work together and maintain good work while embodying the company values and benefits.
Key principles for teams that have been formed/are working in the workplace (brick and mortar mode)
These teams can bond more quickly and overcome communication constraints by providing support in real-time. The possibility to quickly allocate some time and meet with relevant stakeholders helps team members build relationships that create a foundation for future commitment.
Efficiency improves over time by observing similar examples of behavior that empower the team members to take responsibility and become accountable for results. Communication improves over time as it is nurtured on an hourly, not just daily or weekly, basis. Best practices are quickly developed and easily accepted. Going the extra mile is a common behavior due to the supportive environment.
When faced with challenges, team members have the chance to show their personalities, which may trigger some of them to communicate and rely more on similar to them.
These teams embody company values and are very aware of the discrepancy between what they’ve been told/promised and what they are experiencing.
The main challenge for this team when moving to a remote mode is maintaining discipline and conducting work more independently, avoiding compensating the office communication over communication tools. Becoming aware of the importance of being responsive in official communication is more than welcome.
Teams that have been formed in remote mode
Teams that have started working remotely from day one, more often than not, need to be written policies as their personal guideline. The company needs more time to reach out to every team member when it comes to values. It’s also not that easy to make them contribute to the company’s remote events or engagement activities for various reasons.
The question is how to ensure they perform at a high level while also transforming into loyal and reliable employees who have recognized the company’s efforts to engage, recognize, and support them.
The company should establish checkpoints and track the progress of engagement and the level of acceptance and relevance of the efforts made.
A bigger picture and the project goals should be reinforced so that everybody can understand how they contribute over time (per month/quarter/year). This team’s behavior should rely on system reports and tools that can measure and support their efficiency.
On the other hand, performance feedback should be more frequent, and coaching action plans with written and agreed action points should be tracked and followed up.
The more team members are aware of their contribution and performance, the better and quicker corrective action can be set in place.
Teams that consist of members who have worked in both ways
These team members are more likely to perform at a different pace and may need time to align priorities. Leading by example is one of the key aspects. Think of ways to provide equal opportunities to work and cooperate. It’s worth mentioning that every high-performing team tends to share certain values:
- They are highly skilled and respect the skill sets of their colleagues;
- They are result-oriented and ready to go the extra mile to complete work;
- Team success is more important than individual goals;
- Readiness for continuous learning.
Despite the differences between the company and project needs, the big question is how to make the team perform well over time. Therefore, work with them on developing strong work ethics by providing a clear Code of Conduct and social conduct of the company, as well as a clear definition of expected behavior supported by examples such as appearance, participating in meetings, attitude, respecting diversity in the team; introduce a zero-tolerance policy.
On the team level, explain how dedication, accountability, and collaboration contribute to achieving team goals. Encourage trusted work and a spirit of reliability among team members:
- Help the team understand and respond to the goals and accept leadership;
- Recognize and support the team every time they show good teamwork and collaborate on tasks together;
- Set a clear vision when there is a need to go beyond what is expected (increased workload) and support each other;
- Encourage open communication that allows sharing concerns like lack of skill set, time bounds, and personal mindset, especially regarding remote teams.
Make sure team members are challenged frequently or assigned to a specific task so that they reach and exceed their potential by:
- a strong delegation of tasks;
- creating an atmosphere of learning from mistakes;
- being open to hearing the employee’s concerns or suggestions;
- implementing non-financial and financial bonuses by giving team members tasks outside of their regular scope of work;
- letting employees contribute to developing a curriculum or innovative approaches.
Provide regular feedback and support the team’s needs by providing:
- resources, tools, and training;
- group training webinars;
- tuition reimbursement;
- attendance of relevant industry conferences;
- continuous improvement of tech and soft skills.
Top 3 exercises to introduce for boosting team performance:
- Create an example of a high-performing team every quarter; follow up on how the perception is changing and how the team is becoming more mature.
- Rotate team members across teams. Give them the opportunity to explore different projects and work with other team members. Encourage them to be flexible and adaptive.
- Discuss the top three strongest and weakest professional traits in the monthly meetings with the team and ask them to suggest a list of how they would like to be supported by others.
As Agile is all about communication, the methods of keeping the teams high-performing should be a matter of constantly exploring what works best given the circumstances and resources available.
Therefore, the better you know your team members, the quicker you’ll find the best way to reach out to them, encourage them to respond, and make the most out of them by bringing the bigger picture of the project to the forefront.
Create an inclusive environment by using different techniques tailored to different personalities and team dynamics that will help ensure that everyone feels as comfortable as possible to engage.
What are 5 important elements for building high-performing teams?
The most important elements for building high-performing teams are clear communication of company values, defined expectations and regular feedback, building an environment of trust and commitment, engagement and supporting team members in their continuous professional development.
How do you build a strong performing team?
If you want to build a strong preforming team, create an environment of trust and collaboration, allow team members to explore different projects and roles, clearly communicate company values, conduct regular performance review and give feedback, so that the team knows their strengths and weaknesses, and encourage them to grow professionally.
What are the four pillars of a high-performance team?
The four pillars of a high-performance team are defined as collaboration, communication, contribution, and commitment.
What are the 3 key mindsets of high-performing teams?
High-performing teams have a growth mindset, nurture their curiosity in exploring all aspects of their role and the project in general, and are interdependent and highly collaborative.