今日推荐英文原文：《Engage Your Development Team》
今日推荐英文原文：《Engage Your Development Team》作者：Christian Muehle
Engage Your Development Team
How to get your team to stick togetherLet me start this post with a short German saying about teams:
TEAM — Toll, ein anderer machts!If you translate it to English, it would come out as: “TEAM — great, somebody else will do it!” Obviously this is the anti-pattern of a team; every development team following this will fail over time.
I work as a team leader for an international team, so remote working/home office was nothing new to us. Of course, due to the current situation, this has increased and now we are a 100% remote working team all over Europe. One of the most important points for the team is to stick together and ensure we follow our short and long term goals.
Key pointsFrom my experience, the following three points are key to a successful development team:
ResponsibilityIf you feel responsible for something, whether it’s a part of your project or tooling around the company, you will treat it differently compared to something from somebody that you have to do now because “it’s your job.” Of course, handing over responsibility comes with a level of trust; nothing that can be granted on day one, but over time it should be clear who in your team can take a specific role that fits the skill set of that person.
CommunicationFrom my point of view, it’s very important to be clear, honest, and direct inside the team between each member, and also encourage the team to do the same to other departments. Communication is a skill that has to be learned over time, there are ways to help introverted people to feel more secure and coach people to get used to it.
CreativityOffering the possibility to suggest a solution instead of presenting the way to accomplish a goal or providing the freedom of choosing a technology to finish a task helps to onboard a new person but also keeps existing teammates motivated to get involved and learn new skills.
You might have already thought to yourself that the above points are interconnected and are not single points to address — you are right! If you clearly communicate what you expect and what are the goals, team members will be able to focus and take over responsibilities because they understand what should be done. If people take over responsibilities, they will think about a task more detailed, using their creativity to come up with solutions and present it to the team or other stakeholders.
What Worked For UsI will provide one example per key point. Like I already mentioned, you can’t isolate each key area completely, but I will try to provide examples focusing more on one side to get you started.
CommunicationFor this one I will come up with two examples, I’m sure at least one will work in more or less any project. For over two years, we have hosted a development blog. The blog is only available inside our company (to everybody) but you could also go with an online version. Every month, we post at least one status update; everybody is free to hand in sections for this update or publish articles in between. You achieve multiple goals in one go:
- Inter-department communication — everybody has a source of news and is more aware of upcoming challenges and developers learn to express technical topics in a more general way.
- Developers engage with your project, and they will write their article about their part of the project — increasing the feeling of responsibility.
- Feedback based on a blog post might raise ideas that didn’t pop up so far — people start looking at a project from a different angle that could spark some creativity in your team.
ResponsibilityThis one might be a bit tricky and will require some more time, but for us, the following idea worked out well:
Host a development project with a limited time frame (for us, one workweek, aka five days). Everybody can suggest a project around the company or a technology that could be beneficial in the future. Each suggestion gets pitched to the team to recruit other team members to join the project. You will notice that people work differently inside their project, and a team-leading role (inside this project) could support further personal development.
Besides this project approach, you might spot fields that fit the character of a developer (like UI/UX focus, backend, database architecture, etc.) and sit down and discuss if she/he would like to focus more on this sector and review tasks/work inside this topic.
CreativityHelping to spark some creativity can be challenging. Let’s be honest: we are all a bit lazy from time to time. Let me explain my point:
If you are facing an issue and come to me for a solution (and we assume I’m aware of a possible solution) it’s not always the best idea to present it to you directly.
“Change is the end result of all true learning.” — Leo BuscagliaSo am I saying to suggest less/nothing to spare creativity? Yes and no. It depends on the specific case and person, but sometimes it’s more productive to coach and provide ideas instead of finished solutions. This is especially important for new developers; they need to learn, and if they accomplish something on their own, it’s something more valuable as a provided solution from somebody else. The process of actually finding the answer opens different paths to explore— possibly leading to a solution that is even better as a known answer.
SummaryIt’s part of your job as a team leader to keep your team working together to achieve more than a single person could. On the other hand, you have to keep in mind that your team is built out of individuals, and each person has to be taken care of and guided to fit into the bigger picture. There are several ways to move along, and the ones shown here are working for us; nevertheless, this list is by far not complete. I would be more than happy to receive some insights and ideas from other teams to try out because right now, this is more important than ever.
Thanks for reading!