Friday, June 08, 2012

Shaping a Team

A Correspondent Writes
I have taken over a group of folks that I need to shape into a team. There are many issues including getting developers to write unit tests consistently, training my test engineers and deploying more test automation. More worrisome is that they do not want to change out of a poor pattern of behaviors. I suppose since they hit their delivery schedule they think things are OK. On the plus side, they say they are committed to quality.

What would you look more into? Tackle first? Is there an inspiring story I might share at my upcoming team building event to highlight the need to change?

Any advice is welcome and greatly appreciated.

Jerry Replies
Well, you're certainly experiencing a classical problem, one I've described in a number of places, including my Becoming a Technical Leader (in terms of my pinball expertise). They're stuck on a plateau, and it's going to take some skilled leadership to move them up to the next level.

The first thing you have to do is create a safe environment that will protect them while they are changing to new practices. Although those practices must be designed to improve the quality of their work, there is no doubt that at first they will slow them down and probably hurt quality. That's why they need protection.

Start small, with some step that ideally they will choose from a list you develop together. Choose something that's as sure to succeed as possible, and it will help them in some obvious way. In other words, you want to start with a guaranteed success, and then build up from there.

 Beyond that, I suggest you read my books on change

- CHANGE: Planned & Unplanned
- Change Done Well

1 comment:

Andrea from Consultant Journal said...

I find it can help to approach them with the "what's in it for you" hook. Tell them what they'll get out of this, what it will do for their careers and so on - and also tie it into the company's survival and job security. If you can find out where they are headed and what they want out of their work (even if it's time to go snowboarding), it can make it a lot easier to get people on board.