Jan 10, 2018 | 3 min read

The Secret to Building High-Functioning Software Development Teams

By: Natalie Lopez

The Secret to Building High-Functioning Software Development Teams

Part of creating 99.99 software is building high-functioning software development teams. We’ve all been in situations where we’re enamored with a candidate or vendor that looks great on paper: they check all the technology boxes, have the desired years of experience, and a history of working with organizations or clients you admire. But once you get them in the door or sign the contract, you realize you are working with an order taker, they lack follow-through, or they don’t have the level of respect, initiative, enthusiasm, creativity, or whatever other unique attributes your team values. What gives?

If you’ve ever been in this situation, you’ve probably concluded that you need to refactor your vetting process. The secret to building high-functioning teams and forging transformational relationships is in your core values.

To leverage this powerful concept, you must first ask yourself, “What are our core values?” If you can’t come up with an answer or your team has a variety of opinions, you have some work to do! Core values must be real, not aspirational. They must be 3 – 5 positive qualities that your team lives every day.

A helpful strategy for identifying your core values is to look at your current staff. Do you know who your rock stars are? I’m sure you’re picturing a couple of people in your head right now. What makes them a joy to work with? What qualities do they share? List them out and look for 3 to 5 that overlap or recur most often. These are your core values. They are the guiding principles or standards by which you should hire, fire, reward, and recognize.

Once you’ve identified what makes your company special, you have the tools to not only differentiate yourself in the market, but also set the bar high for the relationships you forge with vendors, suppliers, and partners. You can apply the same core values exercise when looking externally to extend your team or outsource work. Who are your top 3 vendors? Again, I’m sure you can picture them in your head. What makes them different from other vendors you work with? Chances are, their culture and values align with yours.

Too often when we’re looking to build or extend our software development teams, we evaluate on technical acumen or product quality first and culture second - or not at all – even though the guiding principles for building strong teams are our core values. If, for example, you value follow-through and responsiveness above all else, don’t hire the candidate or vendor that responds to your emails 3 days late or neglects to follow through on agreements just because they’ve worked with big-name clients or employers. If you’re looking to build a world-class software team, consider buying on culture first and then determine G-W-C (whether or not they get it, want it, and have the capacity to do it). For more evaluation tools for building high-functioning teams and ensuring that you’re working with a true partner rather than just a vendor, contact DragonSpears.

About Natalie Lopez

Natalie Lopez graduated from the University of Illinois with a Bachelor of Arts Degree. She’s spent the past 20 years in Administration, Human Resources, and Operations and maintains a PHR certification. Natalie is passionate about continuous process improvement and helping to elevate her teams.