Shared Understanding on Teams

I guess we all know that couple, who are too good on Taboo game. When you’re struggling to explain the word “Science” to your mate, they can easily think the same thing/event after hearing just a word. Or that two football players. They pass each other easily, they know where will he go next. They know if he can take the long ball, they know what will he need to pass the defender and so on. This strong communication is generally developed after a long time together and shared experiences.

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Just think about this with your best friend / partner. How can you both be able to think the same way? How did your brains connected to each other? This, I believe is a loong process and really hard to achieve. But I just want to connect this with the work-life and software development teams. I believe there are same stages to get a shared understanding on a work.

This, has a huge area on software development, too. The teams eventually create their own vocabulary. They have a communication way, they have words that carries on information about the code/domain/incidents experienced before… Teammates suffer together on same topics, they learn together & from each other, they hate the same stranger in the office, they share the favorite TV show… Soon or later they create their way of doing work and this will carry differences with other teams on the company.

This may lead the team you want to take the shape or mislead. It’s critical to decide on terms & words that are spoken. We think what we hear, we even think in our brains with words, so words are important. It’s important if you love the word client or customer. It’s important if you mean something technical or a business thing. Clarifying technical terms first, allows team to make healthy conflicts on technical issues, develop ideas together. Otherwise the technical terms may turn into dangerous weapons. When a team member develops fear, she may use the technical word the other one not knows and try to go on top. Successful teams do not do it that way.

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They just share the knowledge, accept the unknowns and know their limits and if possible how to develop their abilities. Successful teams help each other.

So it’s a critical role in management setting things up and shaping teams and even their culture. Team cultures shapes the organization culture.

So what to do? What are the main subjects we should focus?

Clarify Technical Terminology

Give words their meanings at first, do not use confusing / hard-to-understand values in the teams heart. Use them regularly, reference events/experiences with them. Clarify what is needed and what is NOT most importantly.

Make Reviews & Pair Work

People engage better when they do the training / play matches together. Make sure communication is not broken or separated inside the team.

Clarify Roles — What will be asked to who

Clarifying who is responsible on what, removing gray areas will obviously help people to gain expectations and easy-to-ask for. If roles aren’t clearly setted up, there’s no way to create healthy conflicts on team members or put quality pressure on work.

Track Conflicts For A While

Eventually people will think differently or have knowledge&experience on different topics. Other members must use this for good of team, team members must have conflicts. Track them, notice the behaviors and lead by example on discussing.

Thanks for reading.