Why Developers Hate Team Building: Page 2

Software developers groan at touchy-feely team building exercises. Yet they’re missing out on valuable experiences.


You Can't Detect What You Can't See: Illuminating the Entire Kill Chain

Posted November 12, 2012

Eric Spiegel

(Page 2 of 2)

Yeah, I was getting nowhere and Tim was choosing not to engage Jared. If Jared didn’t show up, Tim would just ding him for it in his performance review. Improving team productivity was included in all of our expectations for the year, so it wasn’t like it was an unfair surprise.

Jared called in sick the next day and missed out on what I thought was a great team building activity. The whole team raved about it the next day.

Jared, miraculously better, was back in the office and totally ignored the team building talk. Tim’s hands were tied because he couldn’t prove Jared was or wasn’t sick.

I had lunch with Jared that same day. He pre-empted me after the first bite of his sandwich. “Do not tell me how wonderful it was. I don’t care and don’t want to hear it.”

“Okay, but it’s your loss my friend.”

As we ate in silence I reflected on how after the team building activity I felt my attitude towards my team members had improved. As a result I trusted them more.

I knew who was better at communicating and who was better at problem solving, and had a better understanding of how they worked best with others. I genuinely felt stoked about what we could accomplish as a team.

Jared? Not so much.

Having long since moved into management, I continue to see the benefits of team building and would rather have a bunch of above average developers who are willing to buy into the team, instead of having a bunch of Jared’s who are lone wolves. The pack is always stronger!

But the wrong approach to team building can create resentment, fear and frustration. Management should work hard to explain the benefits and help the team see how it will personally benefit them in the long run.

Of course, no one size fits all. Activities should address the type of work being done. They need to be tweaked to focus on the interpersonal and cultural dynamics influencing the team’s work environment.

To get the most out of team building activities, it is better to hire a professional facilitator with an organizational development background. However, if you can’t afford one, here are ten quick and easy team-building exercises.

And finally, don’t make the same mistake as Tim. We never had another team building activity, so all the momentum gained was lost.

Team building must be an on-going exercise or the team will see it is a half-hearted effort by management. They won’t take the activity seriously.

So in the end, Jared was proven correct – it was a complete waste of time. He was thrilled about it and even acted smug when Tim was let go due to too many missed deadlines.

I believe those deadlines were missed because the team wasn’t working effectively together. As for Jared, his code was stellar – but he did nothing to contribute to the team’s success, only his own.

I believe Jared and Tim both failed in the long run. Jared failed to realize his full potential and failed his teammates. Tim couldn’t make Jared attend the team-building activity, but he could have implemented an ongoing team building program, and maybe eventually Jared would have seen the light.

Sadly, we’ll never know.

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Tags: programming, developers, IT Jobs/Salary

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