Team synergy is a very important factor for a successful project and thus organization. Over the years while I worked on various international projects and worked with different individuals I noticed that if we lack team synergy then many things go for a toss. Sometimes it can impact recent or current releases and sometimes it can have a bigger impact across organization.
There are many team synergy issues which we come across at workplace. However important is to identify those issues and proactively resolve them rather than just leaving them in limbo. Many times it happens such issues are not resolved and there are big losses. Some of challenges which I have experienced in my career are:
I know It All#
Some people have attitude that I know everything. When such people work in a team then ego issues arise. Main trait of such individuals are, they will never accept their mistake easily. You have to prove it to them. As per them they know everything and others knows nothing and they think they are doing the best.
These kind of traits are common in both, new joiners as well as experienced individuals. I have come across both the cases in my career. Some new joiners think they had better grades in college so they are the best.
Same way some seniors thinks they know best as their years of experience is much more than the other team members. In both the cases, Project and team suffers, because such individuals will not listen to other team members.
Experience cannot be counted just based on number of years, it majorly
depends on how much and what kind of exposure you had in those years.
One of the best way to resolve this challenge is again Open and Clear Communication with such individuals.
Individuals with good attitude and listening skills are willing to improve once you explain or discuss such issues.
He/she may become one of yours, go to person. It is also important that other team members should become vocal about such individuals causing team harm or problems, rather than living with it. If team member ignores such traits in other individuals causing harm that then it is team’s mistake too. We need to think this from broader perspective and help groom each other.
I have also noticed that sometimes such individuals are quite stubborn. They will not agree to anything until you prove it to them. Then you have to prove your points with valid data points to them. Also make sure such discussions happens in front the entire team. Then that person will start thinking twice before making a remark of “I know everything”.
However, it is quite possible that these both approach does not work. I would say, then you should really think, is that person really a right fit in your project, team or company?
Bug Finders & Creators#
These are the most common groups/teams in IT (information Technology) which has an ongoing battle ☺ Dev vs QA. It’s quite common notion, many Dev teams thinks QA is their biggest enemy, a roadblock and time waster.
Because Dev feels they work hard on stuff, and nothing can break it. However, when QA starts with testing, they keep finding bugs. Some developers have notion that they do not write buggy code. If any of their delivery gets rejected by QA then they become furious or defensive.
On the other hand, QA teams feel that when they report any bugs, many of the Devs do not take it positively, so they step back and stop asking certain things which they should be asking or collaborating on.
Sometime QA teams think; they do not know enough. Because they do not know technically what is happening in the system ☺. For some Devs, it is tough to distinguish when they are talking in a technical language or in layman terms.
So all in all it leads to a team synergy issue. Because people start expressing their emotions, when bugs are reported or when someone gets a technical detail instead of functional.
I think there is no perfect solution to this challenge. However, we can try multiple approaches as one approach might not work.
First and foremost, make your Dev team understand that QA is there to help you and not to bother you. QA is to improve over quality of your work and to work on same common interest for product. They might take your few extra minutes to understand things, but the end result is worth an investment.
They are your best friend because they save project and team from disaster. Many times it happens, some of the major cases are missed by developers and QA catches those. You should think, what if QA was not there, what would happen?? You will get your answer.
Also one strange behavior we will see in service industry, if some issues QA reports to Devs, they will ignore those. However, if same issue comes from the client then they will feel it’s really an issue.
That kind of differentiation should be avoided. Because QA is just like a Client to Devs. They are not keen to know how you have done it technically. They are like your end-users and stakeholders, who wants things to work as those are requested. If they let you know something is not working as it should be, then simply acknowledge it and work on it.
There is a possibility, sometimes QA report bugs too late, right before the release in last round of testing. I would say in those cases we should have a Metric / KPI. How many times it is happening? Is it happening every release? Or once in while?
It is important. if it is happening once in while then we should acknowledge that, as they are also human and they can also make mistakes. Because if they have found bugs that means you have also missed those. In that case both the parties are responsible. However, we should be happy, they still found it before going live.
However, if the frequency of reporting last minute bugs is too often then it's an indicator that QA team has to be tighten up. They are taking testing too lightly and missing key processes.
Educate your Dev team How they should be communicating with the QA team. They should be using layman terms not technical jargons. Do not explain QA about background technical stuff, i.e. not their cup of tea. They need not to know it. They need to know the feature as user and not technical person.
Educate your QA team They should start working on any story/feature from the beginning. When a developer starts writing code, they should start writing scenarios. So that when Dev is ready with their code, QA is ready with their scenarios too. That will reduce unnecessary questions and missing scenarios at the later stage.
Also QA should not hesitate to highlight bugs or to stop a release with buggy stuff.
They should also develop understanding, when they will report an issue there is a possibility that they might not get a pleasant response. So they should not take it to heart. Their goal is to find the issues. So They should be happy about it.
Competing Against Each Other#
Team synergy challenges might be very evident during the merger of two companies. Associates of both the companies has to prove their worth. Teams or individual keeps trying to prove that they are better than the other team or individual.
Fun part is, when companies merge, their thought might be to have best of both the worlds. However due to lack of synergy, there are many underlying issues within the teams. Many times there is hardly any effort to handle these issues. In such cases if we take long time to sort out, we lose good people, deliveries gets delayed and no synergy between the two teams.
In my opinion the best way to address the challenge is Communication and Openness. If we communicate clearly what is the deciding factor to select one project and discard the another. An open discussion with everyone in the team to talk about their insecurities and confusions. That way many things could be resolved. I feel such initiative must be taken by leads and managers, because i.e. the reason they are leading the team.
Many such day to day conflicts arise in every other team. However, in my opinion Open, Precise and Action Oriented Communication is the key to avoid such issues.
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