What were the differences between these two types of teams? After struggling with some under-performing teams, I spent some time to reflect and talk to different people to understand why. 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?
Let’s say you work together with Annie and Joe. You may find that Annie prefers to work early in the morning, who usually finishes her work early and has some spare time in the evening. You may find that Joe usually comes to work much later in the morning, but finishes his work at around 9pm - of course, he goes to bed very late at night too.
Imagine that you give two similar tasks to Annie and Joe, hoping to see results in a week. Straight away, Annie breaks down the task into smaller pieces, makes a plan, and delivers it iteratively. Meanwhile, Joe, 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 puts in a huge amount of effort one day before the deadline.
Naturally, Joe is the type of person who will find fastest way to complete a task. From time to time you may notice a few bugs in Joe’s work, however there are also times where the team is stuck and Joe is the one that finds the magical shortcut that helps them achieve their goal.
You may have come across a situation yourself where people with very similar ways of working are put together into a team. They could work very well together but a team of “Annies” might not often achieve breakout results; and a team of “Joes” may run into quality issues.
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. Here are four tips to make this happen:
Tip#1: Assess the Emotional Intelligence of your team
- Social-management (or relationship management)
Starting with yourself, 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 Quotient tests which you can perform to help everybody understand their profile and provide advice on how to work with others who are different e.g. Myers-Briggs (despite the negative press, it’s still a good start), Geometrical Psychology, Strengths Finder, etc.
Tip#2: Practice empathy
Tip#3: Set ‘core’ and ‘flexible’ working hours
Instead of having a fixed working time for everyone, you could suggest your teams have a minimum number of hours of “core” time (assuming an eight hour work-day). This is the time that every member must be in office for face-to-face interactions with each other. The remainder of the time is flexible – for instance, “core hours” could be 11am to 4pm, so that Annie can start her day from 8am and finish at 4pm, and Joe could start from 11am and finish at 7pm.
By practicing the concept of “core” time, we can cater to individual needs and also make sure the team has enough time together to get the job done.
Tip#4: Align working standards, but start small
That’s it. Simple, right? Knowing this secret and following these tips have worked pretty well for me in avoiding the struggles of being in an underperforming team. I hope these tips work well for you too – if you have any to add, please feel free to share in the comments!
Quang Nguyen works as a Senior Consultant at why innovation!. He has more than 10 years experience in the Software Development industry. He has worked in eXtreme Programming, Scrum and Kanban environments with multiple Agile roles, from developer, scrum master, product owner, scaled agile product manager to agile coach. His job is about building up an Agile Culture and a Happy Organization. He focuses on three agile levels in the company: Agile at the organization level, team level and at the individual level.