Hyper-performing teams do exist. I know teams that are an order of magnitude more productive than average teams. Achieving hyper-performance is possible if everyone on the team has the skills and a burning passion to do their best. Here are seven tips that can help your team become high performing, if not hyper-performing:
1. Know and trust each other
Group dynamics come into play whenever two or more are gathered in any activity. Teams typically go through phases sometimes referred to as forming and storming before reaching performing. To work well together we have to know each other, how we think, and our intentions. Doing things together both at work and at play is invaluable for bringing individuals together as a team.
2. Embrace a joint aesthetic
When everyone is on the same page and shares a common vocabulary for design and implementation, it fosters joint code ownership and cross-functional team members. This lets everyone on the team work on any part of the code.
3. Work in a common space
Being able to look up and see the people you work with, ask questions, or just share a laugh, is invaluable for collaboration. Knock down walls and cubical dividers so the whole team can see each other as they work.
4. Collaborate on everything
When used correctly, pairing, spiking, and swarming can more quickly solve problems and get tasks done. Working together brings team members closer and propagates knowledge across team members.
5. Embrace all the practices
Scrum is a minimal framework for effectively implementing eXtreme Programming practices. Every practice in Scrum and XP has a purpose designed to mitigate a common problem in software development. You don’t have to do all the practices all of the time, but the whole team should understand the practices of Scrum and XP, and if the team decides not to do some of them, they should have alternate means for mitigating the issues those practices address.
6. Get support and trust from management
Writing good software takes a great deal of creativity and courage. We have to know and support others visions to enroll them in supporting our visions. Part of being a good manager is doing this. Another part of being a good manager is getting out of the way and letting the team perform.
7. Encourage technical excellence
Technical debt is a huge productivity killer. Focusing on quality pays back dividends very quickly. Quality is important on all projects but in iterative software development where we are continually going back and enhancing existing code, it becomes crucial.
Every hyper-performing team I’ve ever worked with (and there are quite a few of them) embrace all of these strategies. They didn’t get there all at once but rather one step at a time. The more we do them, the better we become.