What can you do to make a team productive ?
From the outside you can not make a team productive, but you can provide the right circumstances for a team to be productive.
But as a team-member on the other hand, there is a lot of things you can do to make your team more productive;
Use agile principles, try to implement TDD, be open, communicative and transparent.
And in my view the most important thing you can do is to keep an positive attitude.
Spread positive vibrations, be positive to your team-member, listen and be empathic, and give a lot of credit when they done something good can make a huge difference on the mental atmosphere in the team.
Productivity has a strong connection to joy and joy is nurtured by feeling safe, well and positive.
All of us can contribute to this on our work, by focusing on contributing as good as we can in the given circumstances.
There are som great obstacles that can destroy a positive mental atmosphere in a team though, and in my opinion the worst two ones are these:
1. Bad self-esteem
2. Negative feelings around some types of challenging tasks (e.g. bugs).
Bad self-esteem is a sickness that is everywhere in the industry. It has to be fought every day, within yourself and your colleagues. Everybody feels insufficient and incompetent waiting to be disclosed at any time. One reason is that we as developers often work with cutting edge technology and have therefore naturally not yet learnt everything. Almost noone has. But we have unrealistisc expectations on ourselves that we should. We do know most of what was cutting edge a few years ago but we don’t give ourselves credit for that. Instead we feel bad for not having studied all new stuff enough. Stupid.
Another reason for low self-esteem is the lack of feedback in the organizations we work in. The cure is to give credit, positive feedback and encouragement.
Every day, to all of your team-members!
Giving credit has a double-sided positive effect, both the one giving it and the one getting it feels better and might therefore be more productive.
Challenging problems is a natural part of our work. But all to often we view it as something negative. We let demanding tasks lower our temper and create negative feelings. This often happens when we face errors in our constructions and don’t know where the errors are.
But our profession is to be problem-solvers, so why don’t we view the problems/challenges for what they actually are: a source for inspiration and development of our competence.
The harder to solve, the more interesting it is, whether it is a bug or a complex construction we need to create.
And if it is a bug we have two interesting problems to solve;
1. How can we identify it and remove it.
2. How did it get there, and how can we change our way of doing things so we don’t create another one the same way.
To be able to think positive and contribute to a productive atmosphere we need to view our team-comrades positive. That is easiest if we can learn to appreciate them just as they are with their faults and short-comings. Some of them are negative and complaining, others are perfectionists, some are much more competent than we are and others might be pretty incompetent, compared to us we think.
All these assessments is better to put aside and instead view the team as one body, a unity of which we are part in. If we shall contribute in the best possible way we need to be helpful and willing to do good for our team-members.
Help them to develop when we can share of our ourselves and our own competence. Be humble and understand when we ourselves have a chance to develop by listening and learning.
There is so much more to say about mental attitudes and circumstances we can help to create to raise the productivity like the importance of having fun, the importance of finding the meaning in ones work, the importance of trust.
I will write about these things further on, but in the meantime I must say thank you that you took time for reading my blog.
If you have time to make the effort I will be even more thankful if you write comments irrespective if you have other complimentary or differing thoughts in these matters.