Talking to the Wall and Listening to Silence

Headphones Hanging Over Cubicle Walls

There are certain things that you seem to miss just when you don’t have them. After experience some rather obvious problems in communication you finally see how much you value the. Last fall I was part of a team very we simply did not share a language. Officially the language was English, but one member of the team was less than proficient in it and prefered to talk in his native tongue unless we were in direct talk or in an “official” meeting settings.

This of course lead to situation where a lot of communication in my team was conducted in a language that I personally did not understand. Not only did I feel left out, but I also missed out on a lot of something that I call “passive” communication, I did not know what they were talking about, whatever the problem was, what conclusions they got etc. All that is hugely important as only a fraction of all relevant communication in a project happen during “meetings”. Meetings should be avoided anyway.

Small but important design decisions happen throughout the day and these are the decisions that in the shape how the project ends up looking, specially from the code point of view.

Geographical distribution is equally bad or sometimes even worse. It is very easy to disconnect from rest of the team and get sucked into your own silo even more. The counter this it is essential to communicate at least via instant messaging channel that should be widely used within the team and the nature of the banter should not be too official. Jokes should fly and funny links passed essential. The team needs to bond.

This leads me to argue that working from home works best in cases where the team is well functioning and barriers of communication are already removed. Working from home does have some obvious benefits

  • less time in commute
  • calm environment
  • quality of life can be better.

I am not against that, but I think that at least at the beginning of a new project or when joining a new team the team should sit together to get to proper and productive mood.

Well, not any situation is perfect and as a professional you always have the responsibility to do your job and contribute even if not everything is perfect. Voicing your concerns and making your criticism is the first step, but people who actually act instead of just complaining are so much more valuable. Nobody wants to sit next to a cry-baby.

Too much is too much and sometimes it just might be the best thing to take a cue from Daniel Temme, but just don’t do it too often. I have personally discarded a client for having too many jobs during the past 5 years.

Posted on 05/09/2013, in Agile, Team. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Yeah! Know about that, even at home :O 🙂 Anyway, hope you have better experiences in the future. Cheers!

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