Qualities of a high performing team

Hiraash Thawfeek
3 min readNov 17, 2019
The women’s eight representing GB at the 2017 World Rowing Championships © Naomi Baker

Today we live in a time where building and delivering high quality software, fast and frequent is a necessity. Having assembled teams who have done this relatively well and having worked with teams who have not managed to do this so well, I have come to appreciate certain qualities of teams that I thought I should pen down. So here we go.

They self-organise

The team can plan and get something meaningful done without needing a manager to guide them or define things for them. They understand the big picture and collaborate within the team to figure out the what and the how with productive discussion around the why. Leaders emerge out of self-organising teams who become drivers of initiatives and those leaders motivate the team to see the importance and value of those initiatives. They are mature as a team.

They have high emotional intelligence

They are quick to identify issues within the team and are proactive in resolving them. They are mature in the way they handle sensitive issues within the team.They create a safe space for everyone to be able to share and discuss issues openly. They frequently take the time to regroup and reflect to keep the team spirit up. They take healthy breaks and have good work-life balance which helps them have a positive mindset about their work on the long-run. They are a tightly-knit team who cares about staying healthy.

They are not afraid to fail

They are constantly learning and trying new things. They are aware of the developments in their space. They are not bound to one ideology; they explore alternate ways and understand why different ideologies exist. They are ready to throw away things they build and start again from scratch. They are not defined by their mistakes which enables them to move fast and make bold moves. They talk about their experiences and like to share them with others. They are not afraid to try new things; they get excited about it.

They are constantly improving

They are aware of their limitations and weaknesses and they work on overcoming them. They constantly look for impediments in their work environment and actively work on removing them. They use best-in-class tools and techniques to improve their efficiency. They use automation to remove grunt work and focus their time on creative work. They do this as a continuous process — a mindset.

They are data driven

The discussions are always constructive and productive because they ask the right questions and use data to answer those questions. They are not satisfied with a gut-feel or assumptions. They put in measures to identify various data points in the way they work, in the products they build and the way their customers behave. They work hard to validate everything they decide and everything they build using various testing methods. They collect sensible data and put in the time to make sense of that data.

They are quality conscious

They know their customer. They put effort into understanding their customer. They care about what the customer has to say and they take it very seriously. They would deliver a small thing fast, but only when it works well and delivers value to their customer. They put in enough measures to ensure bad quality does not reach their customer. The quality of the software they produce is the most important outcome for them. They are in it for the long-haul; they run a marathon not a sprint.