Blake Fisher

Unveiling the Secrets of High-Performing Agile Teams: A Roadmap to Success


Unveiling the Secrets of High-Performing Agile Teams: A Roadmap to Success

Blake Fisher
Unveiling the Secrets of High-Performing Agile Teams: A Roadmap to Success

High-performing teams are contagious and rewarding to be a part of, which is why organizations are constantly looking to build them. If you’ve been fortunate enough to be part of one, then you know how good it feels to be a part of a team that consistently exceeds expectations while working towards a mutually shared goal. You can participate in decision-making, you have processes in place to help you move quickly, you collaborate well with your team, you trust and respect your team, and your team's conflict is creative rather than destructive. So how do we get there?

Breaking Down the Basics
To be considered high-performing, a team must consistently do better than expected. To achieve this, high performers must:

  • Have clear goals. 
  • Seek clarity in their goals. 
  • Embrace the fact that a goal will evolve.
  • Continuously maintain a constant pace. 

So to be specific, High-performing teams sustainably exceed expectations. It is important to note that this does not mean one of these teams should be able to complete 100 more story points or tickets than any other; what it does mean is that they have found a comfortable balance of work and challenge, and they are always up to that challenge. 

High-Performing Processes 
High-performing teams use minimal processes. No, they don’t skip over important steps; rather, they only use the important steps. High-performing teams develop just enough processes to streamline and facilitate their work. If you mix this type of process with their urgency and focus, they will easily be able to achieve their goals, meet their deadline, etc. 

You’ll find that it’s easy to spot a high-performing team simply by listening to them work. What does a high-performing team sound like? 

  • You will hear them collaborating. 
  • The best teams communicate early, often, and effectively. 
  • Not only do they communicate well, but they also choose how to communicate well. 
  • Rather than avoid conflict, they allow it to serve as a place for healthy growth and manage it head-on. 

 How do we know where our team is at? 
The Tuckman Model of team formation is a great place to start learning about your teams, recognize where they are currently, and where they could go. This is a 4-stage process of team formation. 


This is the initial stage of a team. People are just getting to know each other (even if they have met before). A lot of people are nervous, shy, and polite during this stage. During this stage, the team leader or project manager will play a bigger role in guiding the group, making expectations known, and encouraging the group to get to know and trust each other more. 


This can be a challenging stage. This is normally where team members start facing challenges, conflicts, or confusion within the group. This is also the most frequent stage where most teams fail or get stuck. The team leader or project manager needs to put their coaching hat on here and coach the team and individual members on how to manage the issues that may arise. 


During this stage, most members have settled into their roles and most conflict has been resolved. This is where everything starts coming together. By this point, team members have learned about each other, trust each other, and work well together. This will increase their collaboration and feedback for one another. By now, the role of the team leader(s) is respected and cemented. This creates the ability for the team leader to step back to more of a ‘facilitation’ role. 


By now, the team is killin' it. Members manage inter-team relationships mostly independently and feel emotionally safe with the group. They communicate openly and honestly with each other and the team leaders. The sense of purpose and team identity is rock solid. In this stage, the role of the leader will adjust to a focus on upcoming team goals, development of team members, and delegation of work. 

How do we improve our team performance? 
It may sound simple, but to have high-performing teams, you must have high-performing team members. These kinds of professionals are efficient, capable of delivering high-quality work, and eager to take on new challenges and grow professionally.  Once these types of high-performing team members are at work, it will be the team leader or project manager's job to 1) promote transparency and 2) provide the necessary tools and resources to the team.

Communicating information quickly and properly will create more transparency. When an Agile team is open about their progress, blockers, challenges, and lessons learned, the entire team will benefit. When our team benefits from increased transparency, the organization as a whole will also begin to reap those rewards. 

Along with transparency, Agile teams also need the proper tools and resources to be able to work effectively. These tools may change from project to project based on the objectives at hand. Three things that are known to help teams succeed are:

  1. Collaboration tools (Slack, Teams, Figma, etc,)
  2. Project management software (Jira, Shortcut, Asana) 
  3. Access to training and development resources

Always listen to your team about their blockers and needs; you never know when a team lead or project manager can help fill a gap by providing a new tool or resource. 

In conclusion

If you feel like your team is not performing as highly as you’d like, ask yourself:

  • What are my expectations? Is this a consistent problem or just a downturn after a project shift?
  • How is our process? Are there too many unnecessary steps?
  • What stage of the Tuckman Model is our team in? Do we need more team development?
  • Is our team transparent enough? Are they getting the information they need quickly enough to perform efficiently?
  • Does my team have the tools and resources they need? How can I identify what they could be missing?

Pouring into your team dynamic will benefit more than just the project alone; its members will upskill, and the organization as a whole will feel the shift. Even the smallest investments in your team can produce an enormous return.