//WORK MOTTO: “Team, Team and Team”
“Coming Together is a Beginning, Keeping Together is Progress, Working Together is Success”- Henry Ford
I’ve been teaching for 12 years and was fortunate to meet all sorts of people: from highly educated, to those with low education, unemployed people to employers, from small business to big companies. However, there seem to be some common mistakes done by employers and team leaders, a sort of pattern of complaints among employees that ends up decreasing team productivity.
Wouldn’t it be perfect if only we could program teams to be exactly what we need? Or run some mathematical formula that could give precise results? Personally I say YES! It would be very productive to have such tools and execute work at its full capacity. But the truth is, when dealing with human behavior there is no guarantee or automatization.
When faced with the challenge of building a team to found #Evodeck Software there was much to consider, after all the learning from other companies, I was determined not to repeat the same mistakes and to take organizational considerations into practice:
1.Recruitment: Time spent on recruitment isn’t a waste of time at all! When building a team the first mistake that normally happens is not investing enough time and effort in picking the right person for the job, it’s a complex process and should be taken seriously.
There is a very common mistake I have come by in corporate business: when growing teams (or even departments), the existing people in the team are not informed. Team members should be informed, as these changes might affect their work directly. A strategy should exist that allows them to have an input or even be part of the decision process.
It is common sense in work psychology, to assume employees are always resistant to change, mostly because changes are usually perceived as threats, but if people are involved in the process things should go smoothly. After all, it only takes one rotten apple to spoil the barrel.
Although it’s hard work and time consuming, try to include your development team in the interviews or even create a proper moment so you can all grab a beer with the candidate! Let them ask the questions and evaluate the candidate for themselves. Once you’ve managed to create a relaxed interview environment, you’ll get even better answers from your candidates and might get a peek of his/her “dark side”. The amount of complaints and lack of productivity because of one bad employee is considerable. If you’re skeptical about it, just give it a try!
2. Working Long Hours: Sometimes less is definitely more. In Portugal it’s 40 work hours per week, but in many companies you end up doing more. Does your team benefit from working long hours on a regular basis? The answer is NO! If employees are doing extra hours on a regular basis, probably it’s due to the lack of human resources, so solve it FAST! Lets be honest, even if the tasks differ from job to job, on average how long can you endure on a task and still be productive? Are you aware of the latest #AttentionSpanStatistics? Maybe we should try to consider to #GoSwedish on working hours and empirically understand that sometimes less is more. But above all be fair when taking employee time and effort into account.
If your team needs to work extra hours because you have a deadline, make sure they are compensated for that time.
3. Boredom: It is known as basic human behavior that doing the same thing over and over again makes you bored, even if you like it. Well I guess we can compare having a job you really love with marriage! Even when you choose well and even knowing you love them, as time goes by you need to find new ways to spice things up.
Make sure your team has at least a decent access to new knowledge and is faced with new challenges once in a while. Because of the supersonic speed things are developing in IT, developers need to constantly learn how to do something in a different and/or better way. Although learning things fast is a great skill, it also implies that people will get bored faster than average unless they face a challenge once in a while.
4. Balance and Adaptability: When you pick team members they should be like a football team. They all have their parts and roles in the game but if one of the teammates can’t do his job, the rest of the team needs to adjust their position in the field. And this is where SoftSkills can be a huge benefit when building a good team. Courses and academic knowledge are a good criteria but a team only composed of “Cristiano Ronaldos” wouldn’t work. It’s a well known fact that teams with high levels of empathy perform better in terms of cooperation and thus problem solving.
When experiencing the daily events at work, this will affect everyone and your team will react to this, be sure they have the right feels in terms of what it is to be in a team. That’s why Portugal won the Euro 2016, with good leadership, a bit of talent and a lot of team spirit.
5. Lack of Leadership/Guidance: Whether you are the boss or a team leader, or even if you are working in a flatter hierarchy system, every team needs to have guidance of some sort, even if its not inspirational. When employees don’t have anyone to report to or solve their problems, they usually decrease in both motivation and productivity. For a team to have a strong commitment to their work, the leadership needs X-Men’s Mystique shape-shifting abilities -not literally of course, but in the sense of shifting between delegating, having the ability to breath on someone’s neck when needed, but also to trust their professionalism. Learn to relax because in a well balanced team people will do their share. Not an easy thing to do, and sometimes it won’t be perfect so adaptation and balance are the keys.
Good leadership is also to create the conditions in which everyone in the team can contribute to find a solution for the emerging problems. #Simon Sinek explains an environment of trust and cooperation drives people to action. All companies struggle with the same business problems - it’s the circumstances inside the organization and leadership that differ.
6. Working Conditions: Take as much as your team can give you! How many companies do you actually know that often look at their employee working conditions? And I don’t mean the salary, I mean basic things like adequate equipment adapted to each worker’s needs. Like in Software Business investing in a decent chair, mouse pad, monitor, laptop and a good desk is the minimum of standards. Does this sound basic or even expensive? Well even the simplest things like access to natural light, the room temperature and CO2 concentration can severely compromise your team’s productivity.
In the end it all sums up to one thing: happy employees produce more and if they are producing your business will grow. There’s no perfect formula for a team, as Charles Darwin would say “To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact.” A good work Motto can be “Adapt and find balance constantly” or as successful entrepreneur and CEO of 5 businesses #Margaret Heffernan says: “Let’s not play the game, let’s change it”. If we guide our thinking and determine our actions in this course a stronger and a much more perfect team will naturally emerge.