High performing teams can achieve unbelievable performance multipliers over sets of like minded individuals. I have spent the last few years working on building high performing teams and from this experience I have found the foundation of high performance is communication and trust.
It takes time
It is hard to get communication right within a team, even when they are sitting next to each other. Often it can take months rather than weeks to build up the right cadence of communication and understanding that are required to build trust. This process is even harder when you are also in the midst of creating a new company as it is only one of the many things that require focus. Luckily there are templates that help you hack these processes to make them happen quicker.
Working with an agile mindset encourages regular feedback and can provide templates for the flow of information and cadence of communication. It also gives you the regular opportunity to tweak your process to ensure that it fits your environment in the form of retrospectives. Proximity is another clear hack and the closer that people sit the easiest it is to get them to communicate.
I have found that daily stand ups are a great way to hack communication within teams. I do daily stand ups with development teams and at least weekly stand ups with the business and stakeholders. These are best done around the agile wall and include new features as well as an overview of roadmaps. Regular feedback in the form of small regular conversations beats larger infrequent conversations as they allow for regular course correction. This helps prevent waste that comes from working on things that are not the most important for the business.
Consistency of language
The other benefit of regular communication is that both sides have the ability to learn the others language. Having a commonly understood language takes time and reduces the waste caused by miscommunication. Trust is much easier to lose than it is to build and in the majority of cases it is a miscommunication that leads to erosion of trust.
Find common ground
When people are under pressure to deliver it can be easy to blame something you don’t understand. There are many different cultures that make up an organisation and how you build a software system isn’t the same as how you create budgets. In order for cultures to understand each other you need to establish regular communication over common ground.
Have a clear vision
Common ground should be a clear vision based around a set of hard but achievable goals that everyone can affect. Clear goals enable decision making to be decentralised which helps to avoid one person blocking progress. Maintaining flow is essential to the creation of momentum which forms the baseline of high performance. Making your vision and current goals very visible should allow your team to see how the work that they are doing is affecting the key business metrics.
When teams are communicating well within a clear framework of success it allows everyone to focus on delivering value. The ability to influence business goals with regular feedback creates an ideal environment for high productivity. Communication is an often over looked discipline when forming teams and especially companies. It is the foundation of common understanding and this builds trust that will allow you take your performance from good to great.
Music to write this code to
Bonobo stepped up to the essential mix and the resulting two hours are outstanding.