Getting software developers to talk to one another is not always an easy task. Many developers are introverts who would rather stay in their caves alone (or with one trusted friend) than attend meetings. But collaboration is the linchpin in productivity and employee retention. How can you, as a leader or manager, boost teamwork?
Start with the company culture
The general mood of your company is derived from its culture. If your company has a culture that revolves around selling, most of your employees will pick up on this and try to imitate it if they can. One of the best culture shifts that your company can undertake to increase teamwork is to create a culture of happiness.
It’s true, happy employees are productive employees. When your employees are happy, they are more likely to work well together. A happy team is one where employees know each other, share mutual respect, and enjoy spending time together.
A great starter for making the culture shift toward one of happiness is to dedicate time to social activities were employees can relax and have fun. Things like outdoor parties, themed casual holiday events, and even dedicated company “happy hours” are great starts.
Celebration is another great way to boost happiness. Recognition and victory go hand-in-hand to produce happiness — try celebrating individual and team victories together.
Equip the team with appropriate tools
In order to promote collaboration and efficiency, your team needs to be equipped with the right tools for the job. Wes Wright, CIO of the Seattle Children’s Hospital calls this the “cardinal rule for any information technology manager.”
According to Wright, "even the best team is only as effective as its resources and systems that they use day to day.” In order to not only get more out of your team, but to increase collaboration, invest in the right tools.
The tools that increase collaboration are ones that increase visibility and shared metrics between members of the team. Metrics such as the overall health of an application, the development stages, and team member names and locations are desirable. Avoid deploying solutions that are unintuitive or that don’t remove extra steps.
Build Communication Between Employees
The cornerstone of good communication is good listening. What motivates one person might mean nothing to another, and a manager is in a hopeless struggle to solve problems if they can’t listen to each individual and encourage them to listen to each other.
A great way to get developers to communicate is to pair senior developers with junior developers in a team coding scenario. One person is at the helm, writing the code, and the other is either dictating or suggesting changes while watching for errors. This may slow development, but the goal is not to pump out software at a blinding pace, but instead to build camaraderie.