Focus on nurturing teams rather than hiring and retaining individuals. by Luiz Schiedeger | November, 2022

The positive impact of a great team is much greater than that of great individuals

Unsplash. photo by Hannah Basing on

There is no recipe for an over-performing team, but there are several to avoid or destroy them. Like black pearls, such teams are rarely more precious. For this reason, you must nurture your teams so that they can become high performers earlier than expected and hyper-performers later on learning and growing significantly.

Here, I’ll talk neither about what I think teams need to (probably) become high/hyper performers nor how you destroy them, but why you should focus on nurturing teams. needed.

When I refer to teams, I mean stable cross-functional teams doing and maintaining digital products using agile practices. They can be stream-aligned or technical platform teams. If all of these prerequisites sound like science fiction, I don’t know if this article can be helpful to you, but I would say that companies are more concerned with hiring and developing single talent than building and retaining great teams. Work hard for it.

You need team talent. You cannot rely on single individuals to grow your organization and secure its existence. It would be best if you have more than one talent.

Think for a second about what kinds of people are most likely to be honored for their achievements:

  • very skilled heroes who solve very complex issues that no one else can solve or
  • A team-oriented “average” employee

Usually, the first one gets more bonuses, promotions, etc., which may be fair, but I suggest you understand that we should look at our talents not only through their technical skills and personal performance – but they are a What do you achieve in the group?

The seniority and influence of employees is not what they are individually capable of but what they enable the organization to be capable of. If you have seniors who don’t let knowledge flow through the organization, you are overrating them.

I also recommend googling “glue friends”. The Glu Guys are players who, despite not being leaders in individual statistics, keep teams together and make them outperform.

If you have teams performing higher than you expected considering only the skills of the team members, there is likely to be a glue boy or girl out there.

my question is:

Are your teams getting the same management attention or more than individual talents?

Organizations spend weeks determining promotions and defining each person’s bonuses and pay increases. All employees have (hopefully) at least one bi-weekly face-to-face, perhaps once a year, a development planning meeting, and a performance review.

And what about teams? Perhaps they get some attention in the sprint review and can solve their problems by doing some retrospectives.

As I said before, there is no recipe for a great team. Still, if your organization doesn’t invest the time and resources to nurture teams, they’ll likely never be a high-performing team.

I hope I’ve convinced you that you should focus more on your teams, but:

Developing and operating digital products, per se, is complex, and they get harder and harder as the organization grows. It is important to divide responsibilities across teams to have a viable cognitive load and to avoid knowledge islands.

Long story short: Each new piece of software is a long-term commitment to your team’s potential and will compromise the team’s time for further development. The more products a team creates, the more responsibilities and references it will have as new products and features demand release, testing, maintenance and support. I am going to talk about this issue in my next blog.

Achieving team “sustainability” is difficult for many reasons, such as the growth of the organization. Teams are built, employees come and go, and people change teams.

Another contentious issue is a team taking ownership of products created by other teams, which should never happen but often is, though.

Teams should be limited to a maximum of eight members and must have all the subjects they need to fulfill their responsibilities:

  • infrastructure/backend
  • API
  • front end
  • Operations (Monitoring, Logging, Alerting and Tracing)
  • quality (test)
  • Security/UX (Design)
  • product management

It is also very important to have all these aspects supported by at least two team members due to redundancy issues (#busfactor). You can see what I wrote about the importance of being T-shaped here.

Considering all these aspects of the famous general knowledge. it’s clear that:

Productivity and impact of high/hyper-performing teams is exponentially higher than that of normal teams

Hyper performing teams have clear roles and have all the knowledge they need. They communicate openly, reliably, directly and efficiently, and eliminate all aspects that impair their performance.

Information and ideas flow freely. They are curious about new perspectives and learn from mistakes without regret and finger pointing. By doing so, they become:

more than the sum of its members

Because everyone gets better every day, they are part of an environment where everyone has and wants to thrive.

A hyper-performing team is a very welcoming team, it’s the perfect environment for learning-hungry rookies, and they earn seniority very quickly, thus:

Teams have different seniority levels, and they are not always related to the seniority of their members.

You can have “junior” teams full of leads and seniors and not go anywhere with them because their team members don’t go past the storm, valuing their egos more than a positive impact on the team.

All teams storm from time to time, but senior, high-performing teams go through these processes much faster.

Being part of a hyper-performing team is addictive. Once you experience it, you always crave to be part of a great team.

We are not only individuals but also social animals. We need to grow and be a part of something. If you strengthen relationships with people on their teams and the company with their teams, you’ll achieve better retention than if you give your talent the outside carrot.

You can have the best employer branding, the most skilled recruiters, the least amount of time, and some rock stars to bring to your company, but don’t forget:

Rock stars need the right band to shine. Otherwise, their talent will be mostly wasted, and they will leave.

For this reason, if you have an over-performing team, taking care of it is the best talent retention measure you can take.

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