It’s a Thursday morning and you come in to work, log in to your workstation and start your day checking your to-do list and emails. You notice some that are out of the usual and then realize there is a chain of them: stacked responses (good morning right here). And so it begins, this usually occurs at a stage when the diverse team you’re managing has very broadly different mindsets, the usual loggerheads in Product teams being the engineers and business development execs. First glimpses of this are noticed right after you’ve completed documenting the key metrics and road-maps for testing.
You would then engage in one of two remedial activities: calling for a team-huddle or individually reaching out to these groups to understand who has a more sensible reason to feel the other “doesn’t get it”.
My experiments so far with every solution from several books and articles about Team Management have proved that for me at least, one thing works for sure – wait until the next team round-up, which could be hours away and provide no reaction.
It’s very easy to project your opinions digitally (ironic I say this on a blog) but that is the truth, when this group does sit across from each other in a physical or virtual meeting – chances are 1 in 20 that anyone would even bring it up. Seal this with an end of meeting “Is there any other concern? anything urgent that needs to be brought to attention?” I promise you that if there’s no answer to this you can easily brush those emails away and confidently label them as unimportant arguments.
In a team of highly skilled and capable people who have absolutely conflicting mind-sets and thought processes it becomes the team leader and manager’s sole responsibility that each of the contributors is fully and completely a believer of the work you are trying to achieve. The goal can only be one and it has to be the same for each person on the team.
Of course the metric of success would differ for each group within the team however the net outcome of the exercise must be clearly visible and understandable to those on the team as well as outside it.
Managing teams will always be an art however implementing the science of human behavior makes all the difference – if you can identify and recognize your own biases you would be successful in understanding others’ bias too.
After all we are all creatures of the same fabric – each of us needing attention, recognition and the opportunity to work towards something greater than ourselves, motivations can be different but as long as the goals are consistent, clear and just a tiny stretch outside of achievable teams would be professionally inclined to work together.
Being approachable and openly discussing your own mistakes would go a very long way in ensuring your team members can be transparent with you and reach out to you as soon as something seems to be off rather than trying to fire-fight on their own and possibly costing the team as a whole their time and effort.
One of the greatest measures of my ability to manage conflict and ensure a team’s symbiosis is when they can all come together to celebrate each other’s milestones – and genuinely. Once this is achieved, shipping out great products and solutions becomes far less daunting – your stakeholders may respect you more and be more willing to hear your proposed changes and pivots if the team as a whole is backing it.
This manner of work does not guarantee problem and stress-free sprints all along, but it definitely ensures that every member is confident and comfortable enough to see eye-to-eye with the others and no ideas that could help save resources and improve outputs are lost – the realized gains outweigh the initially sappy sounding theories.
(Design and Art by dreamstime.com)