I am a chubby computer geek. No, seriously, I love food (which has lead to my marshmallowy midsection) and I love technology and sci-fi and reading and host of other things which lead to my junior high ostracism and labeling as a geek. Being a chubby computer geek does not (in my case anyway) lead to a great deal of team sport. Or any sport. Or really anything that involves breaking out in a sweat.
(This guy was Brad Pitt compared to how I was.)
I realize now that may have been a liability for me, even along the uber-nerd path that I have followed in life. I wonder if I had participated in any kind of team anything, would it have taken me as long to have this realization. It’s embarrassingly obvious when you think about it, but it took me years to really get it. The realization is this: Not only is it IMPOSSIBLE to do everything yourself, it is no FUN either.
A good team of technology people is an absolute joy to work in. A good team is orders of magnitude more productive than an average team (as is a good developer, according to Steve McConnell). For productivity, for morale, for ROI on those salary dollars (you know they ain’t cheap), every business should be striving to make their technology teams the best they can be.
So how is that done? A few thoughts:
- Communication – If you don’t have communication, you don’t have a team. It’s that simple. How can more than one human being work towards, or even agree on, a single goal without communicating. Once again, I feel like Captain Obvious saying things like this, but it seems that communication is one of the hardest things for teams to get right. I’m saying words and they are saying words, but we never seem to get in sync. Not getting this right will kill a team in a hurry.
- Trust – This one is a little trickier. Volumes have been written on the topic, but what can I actively tell you to do to build trust? Be trustworthy? It’s a true answer, but it’s fuzzy. How about, don’t undermine trust? Maybe that’s a better angle on it. When you want to say something you think is witty at the expense of someone on your team or their work, just don’t. It’s harder to build bridges than to build walls, but it’s essential that everyone commit to it.
- Value – You could use a word here like “results”. Or “outcomes”, or even “shipping”. What I mean is the thing that your team has to get done. The reason why the business is giving the team money. Whether it’s delivering a web site to a client, a working Exchange implementation to the company, or that new feature your accounting department has been waiting for, the team MUST be focused on the results of the labor at LEAST as much as on the labor itself. Value for the end-user should never be far from any team member’s mind.