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25 Hints You’re Working on a High Performing Team

Published: November 26, 2017

1 SVb edCl0ucLRpdlOd CgA 2x I have this weird habit of (obsession with?)

writing lists and checklists.

I was thinking to myself …

Let’s say you have a couple days to interact with a team. How might you know that you’re working with a high performing team? How might you — John — know that this is a good fit for you personally?

Here’s the personal checklist I came up with. Of course, it is always a journey. You’re never done. As I point out in #1, my primary “signal” is a growth mindset and some awareness of what better might look like. You’ll frequently find teams with incredibly capable individuals…but they are not operating as a team. Similarly, teams exist in a broader system. A great team cannot function in a broken org. Also…sometimes a team is the black sheep. They’re struggling, but the org isn’t exactly helping.

  1. Growth mindset. An intrinsic (not extrinsic) focus on continuous improvement. An awareness of what better and awesome might look like for their context
  2. Infrequent production issues. Infrequent interruptions. Calm focus
  3. Team members from different disciplines collaborating
  4. Tight feedback loops. More rapid learning
  5. Regularly expanding what is possible (and valuable) for users/customers
  6. Direct contact with customers/users. Able to pick up phone without proxies. Access to usage data and insights
  7. All the required disciplines embedded and instantly available
  8. Less “getting ahead” of team. Whole team engaged in solutioning
  9. Pairing. Informal, spontaneous “meetings”
  10. Room/time for “maker time”, exploring novel ideas and creative solutions
  11. Less multitasking and context switching
  12. Able to respond more effortlessly to change. Less drag
  13. Junior team members meaningfully contributing sooner
  14. Less specialization. Any team member can pull any item from backlog
  15. Less preoccupation with keeping individual team members “busy” / high utilization
  16. Refactoring is “business as usual”. No need for permission
  17. High trust levels. Able to “get real”. Higher levels of psychological safety
  18. Fewer backchannels, fewer repeating same conversations. Sense of momentum
  19. Awareness of how work connects to higher level business and customer outcomes
  20. Attention to tooling & situational awareness. System not “too complex to explain”
  21. Regular collaboration with other teams to resolve more global blockers
  22. Sufficient slack to continue learning, try new technologies, experiment
  23. Team adapts process to challenge at hand. No one-size-fits-all approach
  24. Higher trust levels with surrounding organization. Higher confidence levels with surrounding org. Less desire to micromanage
  25. Team-level, not individual-level goals