1 Secret & 4 Tips to Build a High Performance Team
I’ve worked with more than 100 different teams. With most of them, I felt that we worked very well together, and achieved a lot. However, there were a number of teams that I could not find motivation to work with. We suffered to get work done. What were the differences between these two types of teams? After suffering with a few not-yet high-performance teams, I spent time to reflect and talk to different people. I found one secret that “magically” turned my team from suffering to a high performing one. Do you want to know what that secret is?
The Secret is: We are different.
Yes, this is the secret I found. Different people prefer different ways of working.
You may find that Annie prefers to work early in the morning. She finishes her work early and has some spare time in the evening. You may find Joe, who usually comes to work at around 11AM, only to finish his work at 9PM – of course he goes to bed very late at night too.
Imagine, you give two similar tasks to Annie and Joe, expecting to see results in a week. Annie, right away, breaks down the task into smaller pieces, makes a plan and delivers it iteratively. Joe, on the other hand, feels he has a lot of time and doesn’t need to be in a hurry. He works a little bit every day, and he only really works hard one day before the deadline. Due to his very limited time, he tries to find the fastest way to complete his assignment. You may notice a few mistakes/bugs in Joe’s work, however when the whole team is stuck, a great idea from the ‘laziest’ member of the team – Joe, is what eventually sees them through. Do you notice the same? (Or does that sound familiar?)
How about putting people with similar ways of working into a team? They could work very well together but you wouldn’t see any breakout results from Annie-s’ team; or you would suffer with the delivery of Joe-s’ team.
Having a mix of characteristics in a team is the best setup for success. However, you will need to overcome the challenge of making different people work well together. How to make this happen? Follow these four tips:
Tip#1: Emotional Intelligence
Performing an Emotional Intelligence (EI) test, a.k.a. Emotional Quotient (EQ) in your team.
According to Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist who helped to popularize emotional intelligence, there are four main components in it:
- Social-management (or relationship management)
If you know who you are, how to manage yourself to overcome your weaknesses, and you understand who you are working with to make your relationship better, then you would have more chances to work in a high performance team.
There are a few different Emotional Quotients such as MBTI, or Geometrical psychology, which have different approaches to classify people into different groups of personality. From this, we can figure out how to work with other people easier.
Tip#2: Put your feet into other team-member’s shoes
Sometimes, you don’t understand why your teammates behave in a certain way. Put yourself into their position before judging them. Imagine if you were them, what would you do in that case? You may find a lot of insights that may help you to manage your relationship easier. This is also my simplest but the most effective way to help you to earn respect and trust from your mates.
Tip#3: Synchronize working time
It is very difficult to make people who are more productive in the mornings to leave office late in the evening. Similarly, it’s challenging to make people who are more productive later in the day to land up at work earlier in the mornings. Besides, we cannot give people too much freedom of choosing their own time to work because they’d still need to collaborate to deliver faster and better.
Assume that we work eight hours a day. Instead of having a fixed working time for everyone, you could suggest your teams have a minimum of 6 hours of core-time. That’s the time every member must be in office for easier, face-to-face interactions with each other. They could be flexible with arranging the remainder of two hours. Annie could start her day from 8AM and finish at 4PM, Joe could start from 11AM and finish at 7PM.
By practicing core time, we could satisfy people by not violating their personalities and make sure the team has enough common time to communicate.
Tip#4: Synchronize working standard
Definition of Done (DoD), Coding Convention or team ground rules are good tools to align team’s quality standards. However, don’t apply a fancy DoD which some members find challenging to fulfil. You would rather start with 2 or 3 simple checkboxes, and then continue to improve progressively according to the team’s capacity.
That’s it. Simple, right? The secret and following these tips worked pretty well for me and my teams. I hope they work well for you too.