In discussing the concept of a high-performance team, it is crucial to establish its precise meaning. Some may refer to it as a high-performing squad, but this term lacks specificity. Simply put, a high-performance team consists of individuals working together towards achieving ambitious objectives, even if such goals may appear unattainable to the ordinary public.
Engineering professionals in high-performance teams often experience overwhelming feelings. Such feelings are not uncommon among team members, which highlights the significance of comprehending the three critical components needed for success in this kind of environment. In this article, I will elaborate on these three factors to enable you to acquire the essential skills for flourishing in a high-performance team.
Culture of Institutionalized Expansion
One vital aspect of successful teams is the acquisition of new skills and opportunities to enhance existing abilities. During my survey of Works engineers on their choice of employment, a common response was the desire for greater responsibility. Breaking into software engineering can be tough for those with limited experience, and seasoned professionals may struggle to develop and deliver products capable of competing with the standards set by Silicon Valley at a global level.
Continuous improvement through undertaking new challenges is a critical mindset for high-performance teams. To foster a culture of growth, every member of the team, regardless of their rank, must relentlessly seek out opportunities to enhance their skills and work. At Works, we embrace tough tasks to improve our technical and interpersonal abilities since we acknowledge that it is the sole path to progress.
Challenges can arise due to deficient soft skills such as communication or team integration, particularly for introverts who prefer to work autonomously and solve issues independently. To advance, having a growth mindset is indispensable. To determine the value of refining your communication abilities, ask yourself questions such as “would improving communication benefit me?” and “what merits do proficient communicators obtain?”. Such queries will assist you in adopting a growth-oriented approach, making you more inclined to develop your communication skills.
In a team environment that aims for high performance, it is crucial to comprehend the value of communication. As mentioned earlier, the significance of possessing a growth mindset concerning communication was briefly discussed, but now we will delve into it in more detail.
At first glance, communication may seem to be of utmost importance. However, upon closer examination, it is possible that this may not always be the case. While communication is certainly a valuable tool, it may not be the most crucial factor in attaining success. To elaborate, communication can be helpful for sharing ideas and receiving input, but it is not always a prerequisite for a successful outcome. Other factors such as a well-conceived plan or innovative problem-solving methods could be more critical. Consequently, communication should be considered a component of the overall equation, not the singular aspect for triumph.
Communication pertains to the exchange of information between individuals or groups to communicate meaning. It can be categorised into two branches: effective and ineffective dialogue. Effective communication utilises clear, well-constructed messages that are succinct and transparent. Conversely, ineffective communication is typified by ambiguous, vague, and disorganised messages. Effective communication is crucial in ensuring the intended message is conveyed, while ineffective communication can cause confusion and misinterpretation.
Frequent communication breakdowns arise when the sender neglects to verify if the receiver has understood their message. Such lack of concern can result in ineffectual conversation where no progress is genuinely made. To avert these predicaments, it is crucial to confirm the recipient’s comprehension of the message before proceeding.
An effective communicator recognises the value of confirming that their message has been comprehended by the recipient. This can be achieved by using polite, clear, and concise language. Open and honest dialogue is an important element in any team’s achievement as it enables members to attain their maximum potential. Consequently, it is crucial that all members of a team are capable of communicating successfully to achieve success.
Barnabas might perceive a query like “How can you develop the code from lines 102 to 107?” as a suggestion that he is not adept or skilled enough to execute the task. Such fallacious beliefs are detrimental to a constructive work environment. Additionally, this type of questioning could make Barnabas feel defensive, hampering cooperation and communication within the team. If this situation persists, it can lead to an ineffective group dynamic.
Barnabas, I hope you don’t mind receiving some constructive feedback concerning the code you wrote from lines 102 to 107. I believe that replacing the second for loop with itertools for iterations would enhance it. This could promote a growth mindset and enable you to further develop your coding skills. While this feedback may not be the most pleasant news, I am confident that you are a person who is not averse to discussing and expressing your opinions on the subject. Please let me know your thoughts; I would appreciate your response. To confirm your understanding of my message, I would be grateful if you contacted me after reflecting on my advice. I want to reassure you that I am always willing to assist, and I value your input. Thank you in advance for your time in considering my recommendations.
During a recent Atlassian User Group event, a speaker emphasised the significance of ensuring everyone is in sync while working within a diverse team with members speaking various dialects. They suggested that by acknowledging upfront that they may mispronounce certain words due to their local dialect, they establish a secure and welcoming space for individuals to freely express their opinions and suggestions. They also requested the same consideration in return. This approach promotes an atmosphere of transparent dialogue and encourages cooperation.
To summarise, a crucial aspect of effective communication is to have an equal concern for both the recipient and the message.
Mastering the 7Cs of Communication will be immensely beneficial.
Numerous programmers may struggle to promote their own work due to emotions of pride or impostor syndrome. Initially, I had always believed that my work spoke for itself, and promoting it indicated a lack of quality. However, after reflecting further, I came to realise that advocating for oneself is an essential aspect of professional development.
Promoting something entails actively endorsing it as a positive choice or a concept that one strongly supports. This could be an individual’s own undertaking, a proposal to enhance the effectiveness of a team, or someone else’s efforts.
Groupthink is a phenomenon that can manifest within high-performing teams when members are too comfortable with each other, leading to a reluctance to consider fresh ideas and the inability to assess decisions impartially. This can impede chances for creativity and progress and hinder teams from adapting promptly to changing circumstances while maintaining performance. It is important to comprehend what triggers this shift in mindset, which could occur after a proposed change is advocated. Therefore, it is important to explore how teams can cultivate an inclusive culture that fosters new ideas and innovation.
After recognising that our team lacked a system for recording our daily stand-up meetings, one of our interns proposed a solution. They suggested implementing a bot on Slack, which would document individual stand-ups along with the associated Zoom calls. This would enable us to monitor our development progress more efficiently.
His actions motivated a shift from conventional methods that had been employed by several software engineers, and it was ultimately approved. After observing that documenting these briefing sessions and extending the Zoom call promoted team cohesion, we integrated it into our daily practice. Despite already being a proficient team, it was his impetus that ultimately contributed to our success.
It is crucial to acknowledge and welcome the prospect of advancement, even when operating within a successful team. By voicing your opinions, you may be able to witness their implementation. For example, it may be advantageous to consider modifying the current workflow. You might have proposed the idea that each team member independently creates stories on Pivotal Tracker (or Trello) instead of the Technical Team Lead generating more than 15 stories at once. Similarly, you may have developed code that a team member thinks requires alteration. However, it is not always feasible to demonstrate the worth of your work; consequently, it is necessary to explain why you believe their suggestion may not be effective. Similarly, you must be receptive to their perspective and collaborate to determine the most advantageous solution.
Before I conclude, I would like to make one additional comment regarding advocacy:
Staying silent can be equally impactful as verbal communication since it is a mode of conveying a message. If someone fails to express disagreement with certain viewpoints or actions, it could be erroneously perceived as agreement. In other words, if someone does not take a stance against something, it could be interpreted as acceptance. For instance, if someone does not denounce the actions of an individual in Kent, Germany, it may be assumed that they support those actions.