An effective team isn’t an accident or fluke, it’s about the little habits of the team and how they connect and grow together.
Each person understands their role in the team and assumes their responsibilities. They understand each other and work towards a well-defined goal. Each individual is on the same page about what is expected.
Individuals not only try to give their best, but they also push other team members to give their best. There are many things an effective software development team does well.
Here is a list of the 7 best habits for effective software development teams, in no particular order.
1. Connect with each other
An effective team starts with establishing and maintaining mutual trust and respect. To achieve this, a good team tries to invest time in learning each other’s strengths and weaknesses. This allows them to be more efficient with their work plans.
They keep a good balance between the personal and professional side of things. Their relationship is not only one-sided. They know what a person is like in their personal life, which allows them to understand each other professionally as well. The team also knows when to get work done and put personal matters on hold.
They have fun together. Enjoying each other’s company and working with each other is important.
2. Velocity vs Visible Progress
In software development, it’s very easy to get lost in the weeds and keep refining a feature or API that shows no progress. Effective development teams understand the balance between feature stabilization work and the user side. Ultimately, what a user sees is what the product is.
In the project lifecycle, it is important to keep a balance between what is delivered and what you do behind the scenes to make the product more stable. Most of the time we spend weeks working on the invisible side of a project and that makes it difficult to share a project with the Product Owner/Client.
Here are some questions that an effective team asks before planning the work:
- What is our next deliverable?
- At the next meeting, what are we going to demonstrate to the product owner?
- What is the priority of the week?
- Which feature is most important right now?
- Are there any dependencies for further development that we need to consider this week?
Once the team has answers to these questions, it becomes very easy to align the team on what is important and what needs to be completed.
3. Small goals
Small goals are important for each individual to focus on the important things. It’s easy to get lost in the demands of a big project and this can introduce feelings of difficulty and confusion.
Here are some important elements for setting a small goal.
- Specify with a clear problem statement.
- Have enough details about what needs to be done.
- Set a deadline.
- If the goal takes longer than a week, break it down even further.
It is important to share these goals with the team so that everyone is accountable for the work they do.
The effect of goal setting on a team’s effectiveness is not widely explored, but there is still research on team effectiveness by setting goals. In this context, small goals are like individual goal setting and arguably, it’s a great way to create a sense of control and growth.
For our teams, setting these small goals is powerful. This holds each member of the team accountable, creates transparency about everyone’s role and what they need to accomplish.
4. Everyone has a goal
Since team members have their own individual goals, the team is always aligned on achieving a single goal. So even though they are working on different parts and different technologies, they are all trying to achieve a unified goal.
For a small project, the goal may be to successfully complete the project, ensuring all requirements are met. Or, for a large-scale project, the goal might be to complete the sprints or features in a week or two. The goal will totally depend on what you are working on and how big it is. There must be one objective and the definition of this objective must be the same for each member of the team.
One way to do this is to document it in the project’s release notes document. We share this with the client, which helps ensure that the team and the client are on the same page with expectations.
In our case, our goal mentioned in this document is a list of features that we plan to put into production for the next release. We may have different people working on different features, but everyone is working towards the version mentioned in the document.
The important thing to keep in mind is that even the unified goal shouldn’t be too far in the future. As the duration to reach the goal increases, it becomes difficult to keep everyone aligned on the goal.
Communication is a key aspect to be on the same wavelength and avoid alterations and especially conflicts. With the hybrid working style we find ourselves in right now, communicating via chat or just voice makes it difficult to send the right message at all times. This can lead to confusion about requirements or even miscommunication between team members.
We prefer to communicate too much because it helps us to stay in tune with the requirements. When it comes to a complex topic, just have at least 3 people in the mix, so more perspectives can be added. Do not exceed 6-7 people in a virtual meeting, as this will only extend the duration of the meeting to be able to hear everyone.
It’s all about balance and the more clearly we communicate with each other, the better. Little things can save a lot of time. Like sharing meeting notes in the team group when 2 people are discussing an important topic. This avoids communicating the same thing to someone else on the team later.
Keep a single channel for each type of information, so everyone knows where to find the information. It can be your
- PMS (Project Management System) to track project requirements.
- Slack for team chats.
- Release notes document to define the purpose.
- Master document for all links to project-related documents and meeting notes from client conversations.
6. Give your opinion
Sharing feedback is one of the most important habits of an effective team. All the members of the team do not hesitate to bounce ideas. This not only helps each team member grow, but also improves the quality of the product.
There are two sides to feedback. One gives feedback and the other takes feedback. Everyone on the team understands the importance of giving feedback at the right time and taking it in a positive manner. Feedback becomes very powerful when you strive to keep improving.
They even like to receive feedback from outside the team. When you’re part of a team, it’s easy to be part of groupthinktherefore taking into account comments from the outside can help to have a fresh perspective on things.
7. Not self-centered
Team members who understand that not all characters in the film are heroes, but that everyone is important, help create effective teams. A good team player does not focus on himself and his personal growth in isolation. An effective team focuses on growing the overall team that benefits everyone.
These effective team members want everyone to succeed and take pride in everyone’s success. They don’t blame themselves when things go wrong and they don’t take credit when things go well.
A good team has a combination of diverse skills and an individual’s weakness is not the team’s weakness. They balance each other’s strengths. While working together, they get the best out of each other. Not by covering up each other’s weaknesses, but by focusing on each other’s strengths.
Forming or being part of an effective team is all about doing the little habits right. Each team is unique in its own way. There is no formula that makes a very effective team. You will have your own habits and tricks to form a good team. These habits discussed here will help you find or create a highly effective team.
A team, ultimately, is a group of people and wherever there are people, there are challenges. Once a group has overcome a few challenges together and begins to understand each other, integrating these few habits into daily work can make the team very effective. Clients will appreciate working with efficient teams!
We create complex web and mobile applications. We bring together expert Indian developers – ranked among the best in their field – and India-based US relationship managers who provide US context for client needs and expectations. This combination creates a new type of contract development that does not trade quality for cost.