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Team Building

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The desire to praise people or teams should be firmly rooted in the mind of every leader. When someone does good work or puts extra effort in for the team it feels natural to praise them for it. I wouldn’t want anyone to think their effort has gone unnoticed. HBR’s blog – The Easiest Thing You Can Do to Be a Great Boss – focuses on recognising great work. Their survey results show giving praise improves the “Boss-Employee” relationship, boosts morale, and improves job satisfaction. I couldn’t agree more and believe that giving praise in part of what makes teams stronger. That was until…

…I came across the following while reading Lean Enterprise (p222):

Dweck’s work shows that if we reward people for the effort they put into solving problems that they find challenging, it shifts them towards a growth mindset. If, in contrast we praise and reward people for… Continue reading

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Over the years I’ve been part of many teams, both as a developer and leader, some teams worked well, others not so. There can be many reasons why teams struggle, some of these are clearly visible while others are more difficult to identify. Covering all the technical skills in the team goes without saying, but there is another important ingredient to take into consideration – the personality mix! The wrong mix can cause problems.

When I think back to the teams that worked well the first thing that jumps out is the people I worked with, they made it memorable, and enjoyable! Even when the pressure was on the camaraderie in the team helped us work for each other. The teams I’ve been in that lacked that togetherness struggled because there were clashes and disruptions amongst individuals at a time when we need to be united. Different personalities can affect… Continue reading

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How often do you go to conferences? Going to 2 one day conferences in a single year is my record! Although there are hundreds of tech conferences each year we often don’t get the chance to go to everyone we would like. On the positive side, most of the talks are recorded and shared online creating an opportunity for teams to watch the best talks together!

Of course, there are many benefits to attending conferences than simply watching the talks. They are a great place to network, catch up with friends and meet new ones! The live social media exchanges during the day or a particular talk can be entertaining too. You obviously miss out on the community feel by watching a talk online after the event, but the talk material is still there giving the chance to learn.

Even though talks are shared online it can be difficult to… Continue reading

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Regular retrospectives are essential for continuous improvement, but they can get a little tedious if the same format is constantly used. Having variation in location and structure helps to create some interest and hopefully a bit of fun! There are various places to look for ideas, here are a few I use:

For a recent retrospective, and as we’re in the Christmas season, I wanted to have a festive theme to set the mood. I’d come across the Many Faces of Jack Sparrow idea, which I really liked and with a small change came up with – Many Faces of Santa.

This is the board we started with (only a few searches to find the images):

Everyone could see the board as they came into the room which aroused curiosity and a few smiles. The… Continue reading

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Do you get that air of excitement when trying something different? The anticipation waiting for the outcome builds the tension. Will the result meet expectations or will there be a surprise? Whether it’s a personal or team change there is a sense of intrigue trying to prove a theory or simply a hunch. Then the feeling of joy or puzzlement depending on the outcome. Deciding to try out new things can feel scary, but I believe it’s important for keeping teams engaged.

Sometimes just a break from the normal routine can be a relief, if this is how you feel, imagine how you’re team feels? I tend to get heavily into routines, from when I get up to what exercises I do in the gym, to break from this I feel a bit of a rebel…but I enjoy the change! We can get stuck in our ways at work as… Continue reading

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I do see myself as a perfectionist, I’ve always seen that as a good thing. Constantly having targets that I work hard at hitting in both personal and work life, but I’ve never believed I can be truly perfect because there’s always the next thing to improve. So this makes me wonder if a hardened mindset like this is really good for me and those around me?!

The mindset basically means my focus is constantly looking for ways to change, sometimes even setting the bar too high that it’s not achievable. It took me a while to realize but looking back I can see I was never satisfied and seldom gave myself the rest that we all need. What I also noticed is this can mean that I would rarely appreciate what is around me and recognize achievements already made. This is not just important but it’s vital! Not only… Continue reading

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Geographically distributed teams are commonplace, for some larger teams you could say the sun never goes down on them. There are positives to having teams distributed across different timezones but there are negatives too, even if the teams are in the same timezone but located in different places you lose a certain dynamic in the team. It’s not a surprise that some organisations try to co-locate teams allowing them to self-organise and collaborate together more easily.

Co-location is not always possible, which means a strategy needs to be embraced for the distributed teams. Distributed teams will vary in many ways and one of the biggest barriers to team cohesion is ensuring everyone feels part of the team. If you have one location that has over 60% of the team and other people scattered around, those individuals or smaller groups, are in danger of being isolated.

One area that helps break… Continue reading