Sure enough, not all developers work in teams but those who do need to know how to navigate this tricky interpersonal minefield. Teamwork requires the ability to successfully draw on all of your soft skills for the greater good of the team. The most basic premise of teamwork however is the fact that (within reason) you cannot prioritise yourself and your needs above that of your team. The most effective teams operate in unison working with the same end goal in mind, while each person holds up their end of the project with the knowledge that in the end, everyone wins.
You Lack Empathy
For most this goes without saying but for many, empathy just doesn’t come naturally. What does it mean to have empathy and how can it be best utilised in the context of a team? It’s simple really, it starts with asking and listening. It may not be entirely necessary to conduct full-scale group therapy each morning but you do need to take into account different points of view, circumstances, privilege, skills and experience. Each person on your team was hired with all of these aspects of their personality in mind and while they may not always be convenient; the simple act of checking in now and then can really help you understand where someone is coming from and ultimately lead to a stronger team.
Inability to Collaborate
Lets just put this out there, your ideas are not the only ideas, they may not always work and they may not be the best ones either. A healthy team will be able to either gently shut your idea down while salvaging the better aspects of your contribution. It’s not personal, don’t make it personal – if everyone is onboard the empathy train that is. Stomping your feet, huffing and puffing, shouting and being passive aggressive will not help anything. In fact, it will make your teammates dislike you. Collaboration is the ability to share ideas, marry the good ones and store the other ones for later when they may be more appropriate. Collaboration is not one person saying ‘if you want something done properly, do it yourself’, that just doesn’t fly – its not a thing. It’s lame and it hinders the progress of the entire project.
Hogging the Glory
Alongside the inability to collaborate and the old adage, ‘if you want something done properly, do it yourself’; is the glory-boy or girl mentality. Are you being pushy and uncooperative so that you can hog the limelight down the line? Don’t. This is by far the worst way to treat your team. Even if you did collaborate successfully, the success of your project is never yours alone. In their own way an entire team works together and just because you aren’t quite sure what everyone in your team does (you should know this stuff though), that doesn’t mean they did nothing. No one is an island and nothing is created in a vacuum. When someone congratulates you on a job well done, give your team members the recognition they deserve and praise their hard work too.
Lack of Accountability
Some people are built to dodge and lie, it’s not cool though. If you didn’t unlearn these infuriating habits as a child its high time you did that now. Continual excuses, blaming of teammates and failure to complete tasks are massive red flags to those to whom you report. It gets old and you start to sound like a lacklustre government employee. Where you have failed and not delivered, be accountable for your misgivings, face them head on and do everything you can to rectify them. Your ability to hold yourself accountable will win you the respect of your colleagues and employer.
Not everyone is prone to introspection, it is, however, an essential part of life. Not only in work but also within a more personal context. Ideally one should not simply plough on ahead in life without the urge to continually be better and do better. If you think you are okay with that though, you’re lying to yourself because there is no way you would have read an entire article detailing something you don’t care about and don’t want to improve on. Give yourself some credit, go forth and be a team player!