When collaboration doesn’t feel organic, it can seem incredibly tiresome. When practised effectively, however, the importance of teamwork in software development, or any type of business for the matter, is paramount.
In this post, I’ll be exploring the following:
- Agile methodology x teamwork
- The basics of working together
- The benefits of working as a team
- How to work effectively as a team
- How you know if you’re working effectively
Let’s get started!
Agile methodology x teamwork
Here at We Are Mobile First, we follow Agile methodologies.
Agile methodology, however, can be used for so much more than just the development of projects that require speed and flexibility. It’s a philosophy that requires a model of continuous improvement in which you have to plan, create, analyse and reflect in short bursts.
One of the most defining characteristics of Agile methodology is the use of multidisciplinary teams that work together, side by side, throughout the process. This open communication, combined with efficient and effective deliveries, results in a product that meets both client and user expectations.
Considering its focus on multidisciplinary communication, it’s easy to see teamwork as a fundamental pillar of the philosophy. Our interpretation of group work is thus heavily informed by it.
What is teamwork?
Humans are social creatures. Our very existence is dependent on the actions of others, from our professional lives to our social lives, from the food we put on our table to the clothes we put on our backs.
As a sportsman, I can’t think of a better way to analyse teamwork than to look at it through the lens of sportsmanship. Sport creates a sense of community and cooperation, with players working for a common goal and rectifying mistakes as and when they happen.
Teamwork is about asking what you can do for your team, as much as it is about asking what your team can do for you, and it’s this harmony that forms the very foundation of teamwork as we know it today. It’s about recognising how our skills and actions affect our team, as well as our own individual performance, and it’s also about adopting an attitude that leans on courage, self-love, appreciation, surrender and sacrifice.
Imagine your co-workers were your fellow players. How could you best complement their skills? Where could you position yourself in order to make yourself available to anyone that may need your expertise?
The benefits of teamwork
Teamwork can sometimes come with negative connotations thanks to school projects of yesteryear when teammates would display varying levels of effort and enthusiasm.
If you can shake off those preconceived notions, however, you may find that the benefits of working as a team can often outweigh those of working alone. Nobody ever reaped the rewards from working as a team and wished that they’d completed the project on their own!
Here are some of the benefits that I’ve experienced firsthand:
1. Encourages creativity and learning
How many times has your creativity and thirst for knowledge been sparked by other people sharing the fruits of theirs? It’s only natural to feel inspired by our peers and a work environment that actively encourages and stimulates this serves to reap the benefits.
Combining different points of view helps to create more effective solutions to problems as everyone brings their own experience and skill set to the table.
2. Mixes complementary strengths
Teamwork is often born out of the realisation that we can achieve more together than we would be able to achieve alone.
To draw upon the sports analogy once more, one player may stand out for attacking well whilst another may stand out for their effective defending. The union of these two skills generates a greater chance of success that would not have been possible were they were to have worked independently.
Apply this thinking to your work environment and you’ll find that your skills can be greatly amplified and enhanced by those of your co-workers.
3. Reduces stress
When you’re attempting to manage a project alone, you often have to wear a variety of hats to get the job done – from project management to product design, from market research to customer satisfaction.
Being part of a wider team decreases the level of responsibility you have as an individual and thus reduces stress levels. This also helps to speed up the process without losing quality.
4. Improves performance, efficiency and productivity
Teamwork allows individuals to focus on what they do best and gives them the time and space they need to work on their specific assigned tasks.
When working as a team, these skills are united and harmonized and their efforts are thus strengthened.
How to work effectively as a team
Teamwork isn’t defined by working in close proximity with others. It’s about displaying a set of qualities and values. It’s about championing solidarity where possible and favouring the common good over the individual and prioritising what the team needs over massaging personal egos.
It isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s a culture that you must nurture with regular communication. How else can you seek to work effectively as a team?
Here are some examples:
1. Build trust
Promote an environment where everyone feels able to share their ideas without the fear of judgement or ridicule.
2. Establish common objectives
You need to ensure that you’re all working towards a shared goal, as well as your individual ones, in order to keep everyone on the same path.
3. Create a sense of belonging
As we’ve discussed, we can be sensitive creatures that need to feel as if we are part of something.
Develop a common identity across the board and define each individual’s part in it. Set values, outline boundaries and make each member aware of their impact on the team.
4. Involve people in decisions
We’ve all come into contact with someone who raised their voice a little louder than the rest and, thus, decided that they should be the sole decision maker. Nothing affects morale more than decision making gatekeeping.
In order to avoid this, it’s important to promote a collective generation of ideas and encourage everyone to share their opinions.
5. Form an understanding
Make sure everyone understands one another’s role so they can both appreciate it and look at how they can contribute to make it better.
6. Breed mutual responsibility and commitment
Encourage everyone to appreciate that they have a shared responsibility for both the success and failure of each project.
7. Promote communication
Ensure that everyone is communicating effectively with one another, whether that’s during focused work or during feedback sessions.
Communication is sometimes about compromise, make sure everyone is able to see both sides of an issue so that they can work harmoniously to create better strategies.
8. Take advantage of diversity
A homogeneous team can operate efficiently enough but they often inspire much less innovation and fail to take into account a wide range of users and their needs.
Whilst you want everyone to be able to come to each project with shared commitment and values, it’s also important to create teams around different personalities, interests and experiences.
This will breed innovation and wider thinking.
9. Celebrate group success
Stop and smell the roses!
Take adequate time to celebrate your achievements as a group, as well as recognising individual involvement.
10. Teambuilding and socialising!
Get out of the office every once in a while and have some fun.
Hold teambuilding events decided upon by everyone. Go out for team lunches. Get to know one another’s interests.
Encourage the sharing of knowledge and passions. You might be surprised just how much progress can be made outside of the office!
How do you know if your team is working effectively?
Whilst you may not all initially agree, you have the ability to reach a general consensus and devise ways for everyone to be on board with one another.
- You hold productive meetings.
What do productive meetings look like? They will often generate new ideas and strategies that you can go forward and focus on!
Furthermore, after each meeting, the attendees know exactly what steps to follow and also feel that their presence was essential.
- Creativity and innovation are encouraged.
When all members know what to do and are aware of the impact they have on the success of the company and the new ideas and innovations that promote said growth.
- You listen to each other.
Everyone is on the same page and when a problem arises everyone is willing to support one other.
In addition, everyone actively listens to the opinions of others and looks for solutions to each problem.
Teamwork makes the dream work
In conclusion, teamwork is the easiest way to forge long-lasting working relationships and promote positive company culture.
On an individual level, it can help to motivate, strengthen and encourage each and every member of the group. Knowing that you have a team to fall back on in times of hardship or confusion has medicinal qualities and, as such, acts as a striking reminder that not all familial relationships are based on blood.
We spend a big chunk of our working week surrounded by our co-workers so it’s important that we feel a kinship, a sense of identity and belonging, with one another. A home away from home.
Whilst it’s important that each member of the team focuses on building and maintaining their relationships outside of work, knowing that you have a work ‘family’ to turn to, day in, day out, no matter or who or what you face is incredibly powerful!
Use that power to charge each and every one of your projects. Who knows what you could achieve!
Do you work well within a team environment? If so, have you got any further advice for making the most of collaboration? Tweet us and we’ll retweet your responses!
We Are Mobile First is a digital product agency based in Barcelona. Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Medium to be notified of our future posts and stay up-to-date with our company news. We share weekly content on everything from developer motivation to the benefits of Open Source software.