Monday, September 30, 2013

Positive team culture

A positive and healthy team can have fun together. A healthy team is mature. Mature doesn't mean super serious - if you can't have fun, I can't see how you can enjoy your job.

Mature team members:
  • Don't complain about "too many" meetings but help improve efficiency & communication to reduce the number of meetings.
  • Don't play with their phones in meetings, but interact.
  • Don't feel embarrassed or under-qualified to question and correct other team members, even more senior team members.
  • Don't get offended or hurt when corrected by another member.
  • Don't get hung up on team hierarchy. We're all just developers.
  • Help and support each other. There is no point in individual success. There's no place for selfish behavior in a team. The product/company doesn't benefit if the team isn't working together.
  • Don't complain when asked for help. If you're the guy who always says "I've got my own work to do" then don't expect others to help you next time. I always remember this Ace of Base line from my school days: "To help another person will make you feel important". It's satisfying to help someone and a good learning experience on top of that. There is no better way to learn than to teach.
  • Have a sense of humor! Don't take things too seriously. We might as well try to have fun while we're doing this.
I admit this is much easier said than done. You need the right (i.e. compatible) people in the team and you need the right manager to motivate the team. There will definitely be some exceptions to the above, for example I'm sure there are some highly successful teams who don't see how I could even mention that I value a sense of humor, similarly I'm sure there are lots of funny but incompetent teams out there. However, I think these points above go a long way towards accommodating the widest range of personalities.

At a previous company, all teams had names. X-Men character names like Cyclops, Havok, Wolverine, etc. So when I started at my present company, I suggested giving the teams names. It wasn't a popular suggestion :-) Apparently I was the only one who thought that giving teams names like that was a 'fun' idea. Of course, that's perfectly fine, I just had to realize that this team has a different idea of what's fun than I did.
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