Building high-performance teams involves more than just having a group of talented individuals. For a team to be productive, its members must share a vision and be motivated to bring it to life. They must share clear, measurable goals, and be committed to playing their part in the overall success of the group.
Starting a team from scratch
Adding new team members to our company is a clear and set-up process. We are always looking for skilled developers that believe in company culture, and have strong soft skills that will help them integrate fast within the team. A developer’s soft skills are just as important as their coding abilities within a distributed team, because, let’s face it, nobody enjoys working in a toxic environment with people that, even if brilliant, have trouble expressing themselves or are passive-aggressive.
We take into consideration their previous experiences working with distributed teams because they understand the expectations and challenges of the context, and we also take into account the opinion of the team, as our colleagues are involved in the interview process all throughout.
If you have ever been involved in hiring new talent, you must know how time-consuming the onboarding process is. Luckily, onboarding process is thought out – we give as much information from the beginning to our new teammates, from company culture and structure, core focus and core values, to the clients and the projects that we have, as well as the processes portfolio. One thing that helps us a lot, especially in the remote context, is Maxcode Hub – an internal product built by Maxcoders that displays a virtual chart with details about everyone, from photo, birthday and team, to their spot within the office, team leader, as well as skills. So if you’re in a jam and you need someone to help you on a specific topic, you know who to go to.
Determining the purpose
The purpose of the team must be clearly defined: What do we want to create, improve, or change? Once the team is united behind a shared purpose, the next step is to break the vision into goals and tasks, with the help of the client. This is where Agile comes into play, and helps in creating a manageable outline of the project, as well as helping in setting up expectations, adapting, and improving on the process.
Learning and growing the team
We are active in some of the fastest-growing and regulated industries; therefore, our commitment is to constantly learn and improve our knowledge and skills to meet the highest industry standards. For us, investing in both personal and team growth gives significance to all our endeavors and makes us proud of our achievements. This is one of our core values and we encourage our teams to not only devote time to learning, but also to share their knowledge, which they do so regularly, during Learning Clubs, Training Days, or Maxcode Meetup sessions.
Working with a client’s distributed team
Having a self-organizing culture and teams working sometimes on a daily basis alongside the client helped a lot. Most distributed teams don’t have enough exposure to clients and end-users. From our point of view, being there to test the product or even get customer feedback greatly improves the productivity of distributed teams.
Also, adopting the Agile methodology together with the client helps in having a common way of working and a common vision. This works well to better understand and adapt our project stages. At the same time, because we add creativity to this game, it helps us form alliances between different distributed teams so that they learn to respect and support each other.
When it comes to distributed teams, organizational culture is an important topic. Common knowledge suggests that co-located teams have an easier time building an internal culture compared to distributed teams. This is why when building this culture, the first step is to hire the right people and to integrate them successfully.
Monitoring and reviewing
At Maxcode, we have a clear process that helps us regularly review the groups’ performance, as well as the team member’s individual performance, with the goal of adjusting and improving the team’s path along the way. Agile ceremonies such as retrospective greatly help the team members look back at what worked and what did not work so well during the sprint.
Celebrating and rewarding
We always take the time to regularly recognize, reward, and celebrate both team and individual performance. This helps build up morale and bolster the motivation of the group to continue their hard work. From e-mails pinpointing people’s merits and hard work to team lunches or achievement cards, we find ways to ensure that recognition is consistent and that we inspire team members to continue their positive contribution to the team’s progress.
Communication is key. From our experience, remote teams are maintained through communication, communication, comunication. This simply means team members communicate with each other asynchronously and through project management tools. We use tools like Teams, Slack, and Zoom for pair programming and calls, and TFS for project management. Thus, for every remote team, it is important to set up the right channels of communication. And what’s more important is to keep those channels open for everyone.
High-performing teams are critical in helping a company survive, and in building a stable product in a faster time to market. Yet creating such a high-performing team is not a matter of chance: it takes time to identify strengths and group people who complement themselves on the different skills to create a force that works towards meeting the business goals. This is what we do, and what we do best – build strong teams with happy developers that write great code, so that our clients’ focus is strictly on their product.
Learn more about the benefits of working on distributed teams in one of our previous articles.
About Ilona Radu
Ilona’s experience of over 13 years began in human resources, in recent years deepening the fields of organizational development, team management and coordination, training, and performance management. What motivates her the most is everything about working with and for people, the leaps of faith they take together, and the results and effects we can see when guiding others to their true potential.
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