High-performing teams are characterized by a high sense of morale. There is a feeling of invincibility.
They deal with conflicts with ease and can prevent them from escalating. They rely on their team values and norms and focus on the results they get.
A high-performing team exceeds expectations again and again without burnout.
This sounds great, but it takes work to reach the state of exceeding expectations and continuous improvement.
The truth is it is a long journey.
For example, no team can become high-performing in a situation of constant chaos. Teams need to stay together for some time to know each other better to be able to perform. Teams also can go from high performance to starting over if most team members leave.
People tend to forget about foundations, retrospective actions, fall into the same loops, ask the same questions, and discuss the same issues, lose energy and patience, and end up doing whatever they were doing before.
Well, that's because most teams do not have these two key components:
- a structured and systematic approach to increase team performance
- a plan that would lead to long-lasting improvements
The key is to understand your team and all the factors that influence its performance and help them identify areas of improvement that will enable them to achieve more.
So, what should this system be addressing?
- Psychological safety - "If I make a mistake on our team, it is not held against me."
- Dependability - "When my teammates say they'll do something, they follow through with it."
- Structure and Clarity - "Our team has an effective decision-making process."
- Meaning - "The work I do for our team is meaningful to me."
- Impact - "I understand how our team's work contributes to the organization's goals."
You will have to run separate sessions and discussions with clearly defined facilitation techniques to address all those issues and agree on strict improvement actions. You can do those during retrospectives or some different time.
So, what should the plan address?
Think of this plan as your Improvement Backlog. One that you have thought about, researched, discussed, written, refined, approved, planned, realized, reviewed, and reflected on. It should be the sum of all the improvement actions your team defined during these discussions.
Things to remember!
People do not commit to resolving superficial challenges. People do not commit to obligations.
- clarified intention,
- focused attention,
- no obligations,
- and positive energy.
These are the characteristics of good goals and actions people would like to be accountable for.
Your plan should be simple, straightforward, measurable, achievable, and co-created with everyone.
Please make sure they separate decisions from actions. Decisions are our desires, like "I want to improve our meetings."
Actions are SMART, doable things, are under our control, or at least we can influence those like "I will set a timebox of 1h for this X meeting on Friday."
So what to do to have these 2 components in place?
- Have a clear system to make people talk safely
- Make a safe room for team members to know each other
- Welcome input and opinions from the team members.
- Share information about personal and work style preferences, and encourage others to do the same.
- Introduce rules like "no blaming," "no complaining," and "no judgment."
- Have a clear system to identify hidden obstacles
- Make sure you focus on one problem at a time.
- Explore reality. Discuss all the options and do not rush into concluding the meeting with solutions people came up with at the very beginning. The first solutions are the most obvious ones, not necessarily the best ones.
-Co-create strong preliminary rules, working agreements, values, and norms to rely on
- Use facilitation techniques to draw quiet people out and ensure everyone has a say to get as many opinions and perspectives as possible.
- Create simplicity and clarity
- Clarify the roles and responsibilities of team members.
- Create just enough processes to provide transparency into team members' work.
- Do not push them with frameworks. Focus on what is working in the process and what is not.
- Map the Agile values to real-life situations
- Link your DoD to your user story cycle
- Make sure your Backlog has just enough information to deliver what has been planned, nothing more, nothing less.
-Allow research and learning time within the sprint
- Align around shared goals
- Run exercises to create team goals if there are not any
- Regularly communicate team goals and ensure team members have a plan for achieving those.
- Ensure your team meetings have a clear agenda.
- Make sure you track the team's capacity. Suppose they are overloaded with different types of requests coming spontaneously. In that case, it would be hard to gather them around a common goal.
- Create meaning and appreciation
- Craft your team's mission statement
- Give team members positive feedback on something outstanding they are doing and offer to help them with something they struggle with.
- Publicly express your gratitude for someone who helped you out.
- Create a team growth plan and think of different ways to celebrate success once some milestones are achieved.
- Creating a clear vision of today (where we are as a team today) and tomorrow (where we want our team to be).
- Focus on the impact
- When defining improvement actions, make sure they focus on the things that are under their control rather than some hypothetical things that can not be changed within the company for the next 6 months.
- Take one small action instead of 10s
- Co-create a clear vision of how each team member's work directly contributes to the team's and company's goals.
- Reflect on the team's work and how it impacts users or clients and the organization.
- Create simple metrics or key results to measure the work's success, like quality of work, goal achievement, work predictability, customer satisfaction, and team improvement rate.
The best teams aren't more effective because they work all the time.
They invest time connecting in genuine ways, yielding closer friendships and better teamwork later.
By having simple, structured, evidence-based systems that foster better communication, profound alignment, and a better understanding of the fundamental issues to be addressed, every workplace has the ability to fuel people's basic psychological needs for relatedness and increase team performance.
Now, in case you want to learn more about how to have a clear system to help teams increase awareness, intention and impact to start performing…
I will be running my next group to help agilists identify team inner obstacles and turn those in a growth plan using a targeted coaching-facilitation system in early February.
Hope you found it helpful. 🙂
Whenever you're ready, there are 3 other ways I can help you:
1. Follow me on Linkedin to get daily tips on #agile, #team coaching, #scrum master growth, #agile leadership, #agilecoaching #culture
2. Work with me 1:1 to grow in your Agile leader role or help your team and company grow.