7 Steps to Build a High-performance Engineering Team

As customary themes in our blogs, we cannot stress enough how important Agile and DevOps are for companies – especially if such companies are looking to build a high-performance team. We often mention how we offer advisory in these subjects – microservices, agile and DevOps. They are keys to when one wants to understand how to manage a team well.

Agile is a set of practices for companies to manage and perform better – the focus on teamwork, communication and efficiency makes all the difference when it comes to deliver well-done projects fast. And DevOps is an extension of Agile, focused on simplifying and speeding processes for Developers in a team.

While the DevOps trend continues to grow, it is known that 84% of Developers are a part of an efficient Agile team. Agile is known for turning professional individuals into capable teams that deliver results quickly and efficiently. With that being said, a high-performance team starts with its people.

In this article, we will discuss how a high-performance engineering team operates – and how one can be built.


Steps on how to build a high-preforming engineering team

The first step leaders can take is, therefore, appreciate the duties of their developer team. Even if they hire new people rather than use current employees – they have to make sure such people are the right ones.

These Developers have to be open-minded people and possess a high self-esteem. The reason being for the sake of a successful project – when team members are confident and professional, the roadmap of the project can be correctly followed.

Therefore, the second step is – to make sure they understand the mission of the product they are about to develop.

A successful team makes decisions based on data value rather than personal opinions, and members communicate often. Therefore, the third step is this one: define a practical communication method.

An efficient team has to be adaptable and agile. In Agile, collaboration is of great importance – and this is the fourth step: optimizing the group culture.

The fifth step is to make sure team members have skills and knowledge that complement one another. This way, they will be able to communicate and work on the software in a better way.

With that being said – the sixth step is related to software. It is important that Developers constantly improve the delivery of the software they are working on. For instance, while removing blockers, they must deliver clean codes and architecture.

And the seventh step is to analyze the effort and the value of a project. When Developers are working on a software or application, they must calculate that their effort was efficient and the returned value on the minimum viable product (MVP) has a high offer.

For instance, if a team took 3 months to complete a project on a $500 budget and the return was of a $2,500 budget – that scenario is better than the one of a team who worked for a year and $500 on a project that returned them a $1,000 value.

To break it down in a simple way – the steps to build a high-performance engineering team are:

Step 1: assemble the right Developers and appreciate them

Step 2: clarify the mission of the project

Step 3: define clear communication methods

Step 4: optimize the company and project cultures

Step 5: complement Developers’ skills and knowledge

Step 6: constantly deliver improved software

Step 7: generate a positive MVP


The important role of engineering leaders

A high-performance engineering team has everyone involved wishing to do their work in the best way. Engineering leaders can observe and listen to the other members in order to understand and assist them.

Leaders have to simply lead by example – clarifying duties is one thing, while assisting Developers in their duties is another. Engineering leaders must provide kind words of support and create a safe environment for open questions, as well as for honest feedback.

For a high-performance team to be built, Developers also need to see their leader being passionate about the process. When an engineering leader has passion for the project being done at the company, they will pass this enthusiasm along to the other members of the team.


Measuring the performance of a team

Once team members are offered support and understand the scope of the project, they will have their performance measured – for the sake of always improving.

When a team performance is measured:

  • The velocity of team members versus the impact of their project in a company is calculated
  • Tasks are broken down into smaller ones so Developers can count their victories more accurately
  • Developers take ownership of certain phases of the project
  • The number of customers using a product will assist in measuring the success of the team
  • The communication between Developers and stakeholders will also assist in the performance


Mistakes to avoid

There is not much that can be said about how to fail building a team – except pointing out the exact opposite of what it takes to actually build one!

When leaders need to assemble Developers, they only need to watch out for 3 important things:


Number one: the hiring process

It is advised that the hired Developers must possess different qualities. Having members that contain personality traits or work ethics similar to one another – and similar to the leader themselves – can often hit roadblocks throughout the project. Keeping a more diverse team brings along different ideas and solutions to potential obstacles.

Atlassian has an interesting research on this that you can read here.


Number two: the expectations

Leaders must clearly communicate the scope of the project to their Developers – even if they are already very independent. This stops the project to go off-road.


Number three: the autonomy

Relating to the previous point, this one englobes the leaders that need to give their Developer team a bit of space. If a team is independent and knows the expectations well, the leader can trust to leave members tackling issues on their own.

When engineering leaders look for the right people and seek the right balance between assistance and independence, their team of Developers is only going to thrive.

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