Simple trick to improve team productivity
The modern notion of software development requires to work in team. We work as individual contributors, but it’s the team that delivers the final outcome. From development through production, it is a team effort that enables quality at speed.
I look around and most teams are not as productive as they might have been. To individuals that I talk always tell that they are putting their best, but somehow the net result is not what they want. Those who have such feelings include Project Mangers, Scrum Masters, Development Managers, Testing Managers, Developers, Testers and the list goes on.
I think I have a fix to suggest. In fact, a very simple one and that is “Show Respect”.
You might be thinking, oh now we’ll get some sermons on the old philosophies of respecting people and we are in 21st century. But humans are humans, they only work at their best when they are respected.
Google did a famous study just couple of years ago which was summarized in this beautiful (though lengthy) article in New York Times. It suggests:
In the best teams, members listen to each other and show sensitivity to feelings and needs
More details of the study are here where “Psychological Safety” is defined.
Now you might think or claim that you already do that as a leader or team member. Your organization may have “Respect at the workplace” as one of business values. But how do you know if you are practicing what you preach? I’m suggesting following 3 tests for you to get answers to questions like these: “Am I respectful to my team members?”, “Is my manager respectful to all?”, “Who is not showing respect in the team?”
Respect the presence
I learned this from my grandfather when I was about 8 or 10 years old that whenever anyone in the family visited him, he greeted them by standing from his seat. He was in his eighties at that time but he’d stand up for his 2 year grandson or grand-daughter.
So here is the test: when someone approaches you at work, how do you respect them? Do you stand up to greet them? Do you offer that person the time one is looking for? Do you respond as if you want them to go away from you?
(the picture is taken from: https://www.practicaletiquette.com/how-to-show-respect.html )
Respect the opinion
When two people have the same opinion, one of them is redundant
So here is the test: when someone offers you opinion at work, how do you respect them? Do you always want people to offer opinions which fit fine in your frame of things? Do you listen to any opinion coming from any member of the team? Do you follow the advice given in the opinion?
Respect the feelings
Respecting someone’s presence of opinion gets you at a position where you start respecting people’s feelings. Just like we have different skin tones, our reactions to same incident can be very different. Respect that difference and try to understand that not everyone thinks the same way about any thing in this world.
So here is the test: when someone feels differently than your thinking, how do you respect them? Do you empathize with them to understand more? Do you give space to be able to share their feelings? (what we call Psychological Safety in Google study above)
Before I go, let me tell you that I’ve personally seen this respect trick to be working. In teams where everyone was respectful, team members were more influential and they cooperated with their best efforts to do wonders.
How has been your experience? Do you also believe that Respect is the root of team productivity? You can have a different opinion and I respect that.