Do you ever wish the word “team” really did have the letter “I” in it? In school did you slowly climb under your desk when the teacher announced a team project? Were you the one hiding in the back when people were being picked for the dreaded team sports? When it comes to software development, working with a team can be a tricky, but necessary part of the process. There are personalities to navigate, the project to manage, and the desire to just do it yourself. But playing everyone’s part won’t get that software built faster or better, despite what you believe in that frustrated moment.
There are simple steps you can take to make your experience on a team more productive. Spoiler alert: they boil down to your favorite playground rule: golden rule. Here are some ideas for a smiley face emoticon at the end of day:
Communication on a team must move beyond rapid fire emails. Don’t underestimate the power of a phone call and a face-to-face conversation. Often a call or a quick visit to a teammate’s desk is faster than a lengthy email exchange and will lead to clearer conversations.
Before having a tough conversation, be sure to think about the resolution you want from the conversation. Ask yourself what you think the other party’s hope for the conversation is. Often goals will be the same, but the communication styles will be different. If the goals aren’t the same, are you approaching this conversation in the right way?
Set reasonable expectations
Enthusiasm is imperative to keeping the team going, but don’t mistake the early enthusiasm for a project with reasonable goals, or timetables. Like remodeling a kitchen, a software project will likely cost twice as much and take twice as long as expected.
Setting reasonable expectations for the project and for the smaller milestones mean that people have space to make mistakes without team members growing impatient. Set reasonable expectations of the team, too, and model those behaviors for others.
Play to your strengths
Let the subject matter experts do their thing. One of the toughest parts of working on a team is adapting to other people’s working styles. Trusting people to do what they do best in the way that they do it, can relieve the tension of teamwork. Give team members clear titles with clearly spelled out roles so everyone knows what they should be working on and where they can go for help.
Observe the golden rule
If a rule is golden, you know it’s gotta be pretty good. Treating others like you want to be treated is a very simple way to remember to be respectful, kind, and patient with others.
What are some of your tips for working successfully with a team?