In today’s competitive market, being a test leader and leading a software testing team is not easy. Test leaders rely on their teams to deliver a reliable experience to their customers. Teams are the building blocks of every organization. The success of an organization primarily depends on its teams’ performance. A High-performing team gives organizations a competitive advantage by achieving superior results. High-performing teams are not built by coincidence, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Building a High-performing team is one of the most challenging tasks for any leader.
- What differentiates high-performing teams from other teams?
- What makes certain teams excel in comparison with others?
- How can you elevate your team to the next level?
I’ve been building and coaching high-performing teams for several years. I want to share some insights and learnings from my personal experience in this article.
WHAT IS A HIGH-PERFORMING TEAM?
A high-performing team is a close-knit group of highly skilled people who are hyper-focused on achieving the agreed-upon common goals beyond their self-interests.
A high-performing team demonstrates the highest level of collaboration, has a strong sense of commitment, a heightened sense of integrity, and encourages innovation. Such teams often deliver superior results and outperform other teams by exceeding expectations. High-performing teams profoundly care about their work quality and strive for excellence.
- EXCEPTIONAL LEADERSHIP CREATES A HIGH-PERFORMING TEAM
Mediocre leadership cannot create high-performing teams. Traditional and uninspiring leadership styles are toxic to organizational culture and only cause dissatisfaction. Mediocre leadership leads to decreased morale, motivation, and productivity. Testers who excel as individual contributors are often promoted to a leadership role. However, many may not excel in their new roles as they fail to approach leadership the right way. New leaders may continue focusing on technical tasks instead of coaching and training their teams to succeed.
- Exceptional Leaders are the Champions of organizational culture.
Today, a solid corporate culture is no longer a luxury but rather a necessity. Organizations that build strong cultures succeed by attracting and retaining the best talent in the market.
- Testing leaders should transform into culture champions. Furthermore, contribute to defining and shaping their organization’s culture.
- Enable your teams to perform at their peak by providing the necessary support and creating an environment where your team succeeds and delivers their best work. Build an environment where every team member can impact work by allowing them the freedom to experiment and innovate.
- Exceptional Leaders are role models.
Setting positive examples is a crucial factor of leadership. As a leader, exhibit the behaviors you need your team to cultivate. You need to demonstrate your passion and commitment to quality so that your team can act in the same way.
Don’t settle for mediocrity.
- Set high standards for yourself and your team.
- Spread energy, enthusiasm, and positivity in the team
- Exceptional Leaders align their teams to the organization’s objectives,
Some Testing leaders focus too much on testing activities that fail to understand the business goals.
- Testing teams may not realize how their roles impact the business. Inspire your team members by helping them understand how their work affects organizational growth.
- Share the vision and over-communicate it. A good leader clearly communicates the vision/mission of the organization and helps team members to focus on the vision.
- Exceptional leaders invest in the long-term development of their team.
Firstly testing leaders need to stay updated with new technologies, trends, and tools to remain relevant. Furthermore, have a vested interest in the long-term professional development of their team members. As a testing leader, create a culture of continuous learning. Encourage your testers to learn and upskill continuously.
- Bridge skill gaps in your team by getting them the required training, courses, and certifications.
- Encourage them to attend software testing conferences, webinars, meetups, etc
- Guide them towards good books, blogs, and articles.
- Conduct internal training sessions to facilitate knowledge sharing among the team
- Encourage them to participate in testing competitions
- Guide them towards testing communities that can help them network with industry experts and peers.
- Good leaders are persuasive Communicators -Good communication is a crucial skill for every testing leader. Leaders need to communicate with their peers, stakeholders, and customers effectively. Remember, good communicators, are also good listeners. You gain a clear understanding of a person’s perspective by listening well.
- Good leaders gain the absolute trust of their team – Trust is the glue that binds the leaders to their followers. Trust is the prerequisite to inspiring your team members. Your team members will trust you when you lead them with empathy, integrity, humility, and honesty.
- Good leaders do not avoid conflict – Good leaders battle conflicts without fear and resolve them before they become more significant issues.
- Good leaders are data-driven – Do not rely on your feelings, instincts, opinions but instead on data to make critical decisions. Testing leaders need to establish and rely on quality metrics to guide decision-making.
- Good leaders continuously recognize and appreciate outstanding work –
To uplift your testing team to motivation, you must celebrate their wins.
- Testing leaders should not miss any opportunity to praise excellent work; Let your testers know that their hard work is being noticed.
- Help develop recognition and reward programs for your organization.
- Create a process where every team member can easily recognize and appreciate their peers.
- Remember that appreciation is effective when it happens instantly and at regular intervals.
6. Good leaders provide regular feedback to their team members –
- Build a process around giving constructive feedback to your team members regularly. Constructive feedback should be actionable and results-oriented.
- Be specific and tangible when giving feedback –
- Be clear and direct. Ensure your feedback is not vague. Let testers know what they did well and how they can repeat those actions in the future. Also, address the behaviour you would want them to change.
- Remember, feedback is effective when given at the right moment.
7. Good leaders build a diversely skilled team – Diversity is the mother of innovation. Diversity in your team will give you a new perspective and help you discover new and creative ways of working—additionally, leverage each other’s expertise and strengths to achieve the shared vision.
8. Good leaders select the right people for the right job – A leader should have a deep understanding of every team member and their potential. Testing leaders should assign the right people with the right skills and mindset to solve a problem. Ensure that everyone is clear about their tasks, roles, and responsibilities
2. ‘CULTIVATE PSYCHOLOGICAL SAFETY IN YOUR WORKSPACE
Even today, several organizations expect their testers to act as the gatekeepers of quality. They think it’s their sole responsibility to ensure quality. A tester’s role is challenging; testers have to disagree, debate with several people; criticize developers’ code; answer for the delay in releases. Every tester had encountered situations where they were blamed for a missed bug. A blame-free culture is vital for testers to succeed and show the impact of their work. A sense of psychological safety is what fosters innovations in teams. Innovations will never happen when people fear failure. Here are some ideas to create a safe environment for your testers.
- Create a culture that celebrates failure – Build a culture where people are comfortable to take risks and are not scared of failures.
- Stop blaming others for mistakes; figure out ways to prevent similar issues in the future. Set an example for your team by owning up to your mistakes.
“A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit.”
~ John Maxwell
- Encourage testers to speak up in meetings without fear. Inspire them to share their opinions, thoughts, and beliefs without hesitation.
- “My way or the highway” attitude to leadership is toxic as it kills innovation and creativity. Welcome and appreciate new ideas. Encourage testers to experiment and learn continuously.
- Educate the stakeholders about the role of testers and cultivate a whole team approach to quality.
- Value Tester’s in your team – Ensure that testers are involved in all the meetings and contribute to decision making.
- Teach assertiveness to your testers; teach them to stand up to their rights without being aggressive or passive. Additionally, mentor them to share their bugs in a fact-focused, neutral way without criticizing the developers.
Remember that it takes time to build psychological safety at work. Take a few baby steps at a time to make it happen.
3. HIGH-PERFORMING TEAMS BUILD STRONG AND POSITIVE RELATIONSHIPS AT WORK.
Quality relationships at work matter. We spend more time with our colleagues than our families or even spouses. Workplace friendships significantly boost productivity and engagement at work. Great teams value each other at work and beyond. Furthermore, meaningful relationships at work result in –
- Improved teamwork and collaboration
- Improved job satisfaction – Team members tend to enjoy their work as they experience social life in the workspace.
- Lower churn and higher retention – Team members are less likely to look for another job when they are good friends at the workspace.
- Increased morale in the workspace.
Foster an inclusive social environment where team members know each other’s interests –
- Create opportunities for your team to connect over non-work topics. Encourage testers to interact by facilitating team outings, team building activities, informal get-togethers, online games for team building, etc.
- Conduct regular one-on-ones with your team members.
- Take time to know your team members and understand their interests, strengths, and development areas.
- Be Empathetic – recognize the needs, emotions, and try to see things from their point of view,
- Dedicate time to have friendly conversations with the team members before and after meetings.
- Don’t limit yourself to formal conversations; try to connect with your team members on a personal level. Have conversations about their interests outside of work. Find common interests that can help foster a deeper relationship.
As a testing leader, you play a prominent role in creating a high-performing team that significantly impacts the organization’s success. However, building and sustaining such a team is easier said than done. It is one such task that leaders need to work on relentlessly. Testing leaders need to proactively create the required conditions to maximize their teams’ impact and unleash the full potential of every team member.
What do you think it takes to build a high-performing team? Share your thoughts in the comments.