Many IT organizations are under the impression that success comes from using the most modern tools, frameworks, and methodologies. Yes, they do play a role to a certain degree, what most organizations don’t realize is that it is the people who use these tools and technologies that truly make a difference.
Building a team that has the ability to consistently produce results is not easy. However, if you focus on finding people with the right team characteristics and values and nurture them throughout their journey within the organization, you can create a team that is ready for any challenge.
High performing Software and IT teams pave the way for collaborative success by providing clarity that builds trust and accountability. Teams with the right traits and values unlock their true potential, and constantly feel motivated and empowered to contribute towards the same goals – so everybody is a winner!
Based on our experience of working with and helping several Software teams, here are some of the values that I see are consistent amongst the most high-performing teams.
Given the fact that software project requirements constantly change, teams can end up becoming siloed, with no knowledge of what others are working on, or towards.
However, most high-performing teams know what has to be done, when, and how. There is clarity on the purpose – one that everyone is committed to. Members have a good understanding of their individual as well as team roles and responsibilities.
Building a team with shared purpose and a unified goal means everyone is aware of what they are all trying to achieve – together. It is the responsibility of the leaders to support open, honest and frequent discussions between various team members, so everyone feels they can contribute in their own little way. Building a culture of open communication; driving efforts towards transparency and constructive feedback ensures that they can take risks and share their thoughts and opinions – without fear.
Teams at Twitter, for instance, are both good at and love what they are doing. It is not the programs, activities or rules that make them good at their job; but happy and fulfilled employees who feel what they are doing matters.
Trust and Respect
With software projects getting increasingly complex, the final outcome is a well-planned, well-coordinated effort of a number of people who work together to realize objectives and goals. However, success only comes to those where trust and mutual respect is high.
Teams that care about others and depend on each other for the different abilities they possess are necessary for a project to be completed – in time, within budget, and meet the intended quality. It is important to rope in members whose talents complement each other rather than compete with each other. Teams need to be enabled to appreciate others and feel appreciated themselves. While disagreements are natural, valuing differences in opinion, and enabling teams to deal with conflict in a way that maintains human dignity; allows them to overcome the differences in the way that delivers creative solutions. Every conflict should be underpinned by a healthy mutual respect for different ways of viewing things. It is only when there is a high level of trust between members that they can respect each other and support the capabilities they bring to the team.
Commitment to Quality and Results
Most high-performance teams have a shared commitment to quality and results; such commitment from every team member is key to foster strong team dynamics and achieve goals more quickly.
By continuously thriving to achieve the highest standards and the best outcome, high performing teams make learning a continuous affair. Every new skill learned is applied to the work, in a bid to improve the quality standard.
Given the pace of technology advancements, it is important for organizations to bring in people who are open to learning; a desire to adopt the latest innovations can greatly increase both the speed and quality of the team’s output.
I often suggest the following to ensure it –
- Have the right policies and procedures in place to enable the team to do their work efficiently.
- Provide continuous access to relevant information and resources and make sure members have the skills needed to succeed.
- Ensure everyone understands the importance of their role, and how their specific strengths and skills contribute to the success of the team and the organization.
Netflix, for instance, doesn’t judge employees by the number of hours they have worked; instead, they’re evaluated according to their abilities and accomplishments. This allows the company to build teams that are self-sufficient and have employees that take the responsibility of policing on themselves.
In an age where customers are driving businesses, and not the other way around, software development is no longer centered around large, pre-configured milestones. It is about being customer-centric and driving all efforts towards ensuring customer satisfaction. It is about looking out for the needs of the customers you serve and ensuring every requirement is taken into consideration, every iteration is carried out with precision, and every feedback is taken seriously.
High performing IT teams take a customer-centric approach in whatever they do and work towards ensuring the product they develop exactly meet the requirements. With customer demands changing ever so frequently, the team members need to be open to implementing frequent changes. Making them proficient with concepts such as Agile help in boosting engagement, driving instant feedback, and ensuring that the changes are quickly and easily incorporated.
It is important to lay out processes that allow teams to have regular communication with customers. The teams should be able to maintain an open stream of feedback and adaptability throughout the project.
Southwest Airlines, for instance, allows its employees to go the extra mile to make customers happy, empowering them to do what it takes to meet that vision.
Domain and Technical Depth
No matter how motivated teams are, how frequently they communicate or how flexible they are to changes, unless and until they have domain and technical depth, the end result is not going to be up to the mark.
With software products being developed for the most complex of customers, in the most complex of industries, domain, and technical depth is requisite that defines high-performing IT teams. With technology changing at lightning-fast speed, the onus of making sure that the team has knowledge of the latest entrant is entirely on the leaders. They need to make sure that they offer training courses on the latest tools and technologies, so the team is always at the forefront of IT landscape.
How technology can help IT teams in delivering high performance?
High-performing teams share a range of traits and values that allow them to meet (and exceed) expectations. However, when combined with technology, it paves the way for high performance – not just of individuals, but of the team and organization as a whole.
Here’s how technology can help IT teams in delivering high performance:
- Integrated requirement, development, testing and deployment tools can offer teams with the visibility they need into project status and progress.
- Modern traceability tools can quickly and accurately generate traceability matrix, provide impact analysis, and offer inconsistency reports.
- Integrated infrastructure management tools can allow for effective coordination between various teams across boundaries and processes to maintain alignment.
- Collaboration tools ensure teams are on the same page with respect to code, testing, changes, and more – while having anytime, anywhere access to knowledge and experts.
- Integrated dashboard and metrics can highlight areas of concern, and allow teams to work towards improving upon them as soon as possible.
- Communication tools such as instant messaging and intranet portals provide timely alerts and updates so everyone in the team is in sync.
- Configuration management tools allow for timely tracking and control of software changes. They also help in the reduction of costs and risks through constant maintenance, record keeping, and checks.
High-performing teams often find their work fun and satisfying. This is mainly because they are motivated to contribute at their highest potential, and strive to learn all along the way. They all work towards the same goals, they understand what is expected out of them, they have trust in each other, as well as in the team’s purpose. They feel free to express their ideas, and actively diffuse tension and friction in a relaxed and informal atmosphere.
If you’re looking to build high-performing teams, make frequent and extensive discussions a reality. Give everyone a chance to contribute; view disagreements as an opportunity to brainstorm new ideas, and manage conflicts easily and amiably. Make sure criticism is always constructive and oriented toward problem-solving.