blogAugust 21, 2020

Programmers are people too

A team player manifesto

Article presentation
If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far go together.

Teamwork is something you hear often, it’s in job descriptions, in resumes, in advertising, but sometimes it can feel like it got emptied of meaning. But what is “teamwork” really and have we reached the proverbial “you can’t see the trees because of the forest”?!

From working on your own to teamwork

Contrary to mainstream personal development, there are also some disadvantages to working in a team. We are so used to ignoring them, but that doesn’t make them disappear. Here are some of the not so pleasant ignored facts:

  • You have to put effort into working in a team;
  • It takes time (more than you would think);
  • You have to adapt to different personalities;
  • You sometimes don’t get your way
  • You share the standing ovation.

Also, you might not think, but working alone has its perks: you get the whole credit for the work you do, there are no comparisons of who worked harder or who is to blame for something, and, of course, you get to be the one who makes the decisions.

For this reason and probably many others, software development players choose to work alone. Many would argue that there are lesser challenges. Nevertheless, most of us choose to work in a team. Here are a couple of reasons why:

  • You improve faster by receiving feedback;
  • You improve your social skills;
  • You often get better ideas from debates;
  • You remember better when you teach others;
  • You get to see from other perspectives;
  • It can be fun;
  • Others might teach you something too 😊

But HOW do we get to be a team and not just a bunch of developers who work next to each other?

Sometimes it happens naturally when everyone is happy and everyone is on the same page. But, let’s face it, most of the time we are not all on the same page, and becoming a team will require time and effort. In order to successfully establish a true community YOU:

  • need to understand and accept the difference in others;
  • must focus on what you can learn from others rather than what you’d wish your colleagues would do in order to accommodate your needs.

Notice how the emphasis is on the "you" and not "they". The fact is you can only change yourself, not others, but you can (and you should) state your views and opinion. Making sure that your voice is heard is important because this will help shape the team as a whole. More often we can find ourselves disconnected from the team simply because we didn’t say or state where we stand.

So when voicing your own ideas make sure that you keep in mind:

  • It’s perfectly fine to say you would like to turn on/off the light, or that you’d appreciate if that colleague that was late comes on time next meeting.
  • Don’t be afraid to verbalize your needs and wishes, but be prepared to negotiate.
  • There are no rules when it comes to working together, you are the creators of your own team and it can be however you want it to be.
  • Try not to assume, to understand the role of each other, and to set your expectations right.
  • Ask and give real feedback as often as you can.
  • When a conflict submerges try to see the big picture, ask yourself: is it life-threatening? If not, treat it like such and try as hard as you can to focus on finding the solution not to find blame.

Over time our team had gathered some tips that will help improve your communication with your team workers because let’s face it communication is key. Knowing how to make your statement is crucial. This will help you not just integrate but will contribute to the collective enrichment of the team and the quality of your work and energy.

Here are our recommendations on how you should share your voice in order to improve the teamwork environment:

  • say “thank you”, “sorry” and “please” non-ironically;
  • understand you do not own the truth;
  • avoid gossip at all cost;
  • talk about yourself, not others;
  • be mindful of the reactions of others;
  • ask rather than say;
  • use phrases like “as far as I understand”, “in my opinion”, “correct me if I’m wrong, but”, “I think that”, “when you do that, I feel that”.

Using these tips and tricks will not only help you improve your communication process but also it will improve the quality of the conversation. Having a truthful and well-thought conversation will lead to better team energy, clearer objectives, and an understanding of the "teamwork" mindset. So as a final thought to you...

Each team is unique and it’s your responsibility to make it great. Enjoy the process part and enjoy each other. The results will be worth it!