Team Building Best Practices
Software development is teamwork. Nevertheless, specialized literature gives much less attention to team building issues than to technology.
Project managers are aware of two types of methodologies: knowledge and project management. People management methodologies have not yet been invented. Management books are more likely to teach what should never be allowed in managing employees than what to do to make them one team. Earlier, my colleague wrote an article on this topic. This, in turn, inspired me to describe my vision of this problem.
Project managers sometimes turn to psychology literature for advice on team education. But the fact is that psychologists write books about common problems of interpersonal relationships. The topics of development of mutual assistance and an increase in the number of manifestations of initiative in them are touched much less frequently. In my memory, this issue was considered in an article by my colleague.
Perhaps for advice on team building, it makes sense to turn to other, more studied areas of collective activity. For example, to the theater.
Why to him? At least due to similarities. The theater also combines completely different areas of activity. Nevertheless, everything works on stage as a single organism. Probably because in the theater there are a number of tools that allow a variety of people to work for a common result.
Let's consider some of them:
- Table period;
- Super task;
- Role of the actor;
- The role of "resistance";
- Role drawing;
- Construction of a staging area.
Unfortunately, we are not talking about fun feasts at all. Under the table period, it is customary to understand the period of time when the reading of the material takes place. Before the rehearsals on stage, the actors pronounce the text of the role at the table. Without intonation, not playing anything. This is not memorization of the text and not familiarity with the plot. Actors reveal the inner dramaturgy of the text, make notes in the margins of the script. At this stage, the turning events of the play are determined.
For the manager, turning events are the milestones of the project. Involve developers in project planning. At the first stage, it is not necessary to determine all the nuances of the technology, it is enough to outline directions and identify potential risks. Developers learn to think and express an expert opinion on the specifics of the project.
A super-task is an individual interpretation of the main idea of a work. The purpose for which it was written. The director dictates the super task to the actors.
What is the super task of the manager? Do the project on time? No, managing the progress of a project is the job of a manager. The goal always lies outside the work. This question was best answered by Frederick Brooks in his book Mythical Man-Month:
“The main task of a program project manager is to create an organizational structure and workflow that promotes creativity and initiative, rather than overwhelming them.”
What is the supertask of the developer? To develop functionality efficiently and on time? No, this is his job. Developer goals include:
- Mastering a new technology for him;
- Desire to become a project architect;
- The desire to train a beginner, etc.
The situation when the developer does not have a super task is a failure. He comes to work only to serve time.
Role of the actor The
role of the actor is a certain kind of roles corresponding to the external and internal data of the actor. In simple terms, there are comedian actors, there are tragic actors.
Knowing the luggage of each developer is an important component in the process of recruiting a team. Give people projects that match their inner self. Among the complaints of people about working conditions there is such: "I performed a bunch of duties that did not apply to me." This is a blatant thing. Equivalent to the fact that the masters of sports in swimming will be forced to lift the barbell.
The role of "resistance"
The “resistance” role is that role that categorically does not correspond to the role of the actor. If it does, it means that it can go beyond its own “comfort zone”. If it breaks, it means that the director incorrectly selected the actor for the role, set him the wrong super task.
The importance of the developer’s interest in the project on which he works is difficult to overestimate. Therefore, the manager must sometimes give the developer projects "for growth." In this sense, you need to be able to correlate the greatness of design and the ability of the developer. Find a balance between knowledge and potential.
Role drawing Role
drawing is the range in which an actor acts, departing from or surpassing a super task. During rehearsals, the director clearly fixes in which row the actor submits the text, at what tempo works, where he squats or replayes.
The manager must give subordinates the right to make a mistake, while recognizing their ability to exceed expectations. Create conditions in the team under which the developer, even in his worst form, will not be able to overwhelm the project. For an actor, such conditions mean intolerance of falsehood. A trained actor in this way, accurately determines the replay in the films and performances that he watches. Develop developers intolerance to bad code.
Building a staging scene
Building a staging scene is a conditional division of the scene and the actors on it into the first, middle and long-range plan. Stage scenes are momentary. How they change determines how interesting it will be to watch the performance.
Every manager at least once in his life heard from the developer the phrase: "I pulled the project on myself." The leader did not feel the support of other team members. People did not work together. Each was brewed in its own juice. The system has not acquired new features. The manager should: feel when the employee should be taken away from the front line; understand which of the team members will substitute a shoulder for a friend. Even an experienced employee will not pull on a project alone. He will tear.
The project is a kind of performance. Some productions live in the hearts of the audience for years. Others fail after a few hits. Contrary to popular belief, the play is not the main thing. The main thing is how the team works harmoniously for the result.
The absence of one of the listed tools in the it-team’s work is not critical. The absence of all - guaranteed to lead the project to failure. Before you come up with new ways to motivate your team, see if your team uses these techniques. If not used, this is an occasion not just to think, but to sound the alarm.
Summarize the above:
- Involve developers in project planning;
- Clearly set a goal;
- Study the strengths and weaknesses of team members to know where they can and should be developed;
- Declare a boycott of bad code;
- Do not give the leader a chance to tear, but give the average specialist the opportunity to prove himself.
Of course, this article does not provide a complete list of the secrets of theatrical backstage. The purpose of the article was to demonstrate that learning from representatives of other industries is possible and necessary. Studying unfamiliar areas, at times, allows you to make amazing discoveries.
In conclusion, I add: often go to the theater. There you can at least turn off the phone and take a nap.