Team Group Therapy

2 min min read - August 12, 2014

No matter what is demographic structure your team has, sooner or later you will find that it’s not only a set of great skills, but also characters. It really doesn’t matter what age or gender, education or background your team members are. Team as any other group works under laws of sociology, has the same problems as any other group and can be enhanced by the same simple rules.

Be an example

As team leader you are the shepherd. Your team is your precious and bellowed herd that follows you. How you behave, will make how they treat each other. If they lose faith in you, they will lose faith in your company or the product. If you will favorite one of them, other will feel abandoned. If you won’t take consequences from others misbehavior, rest will stop to respect you. But first of all, never ever expect form them anything you aren’t doing.

Don’t make it public

Respect is based on rules. You all are adults (or almost in some startups). You all are worth respect. If you have something pointing person tell it directly, without witness. Make sure your team feels comfortable pointing your mistakes, but does that in one to one discussions. Maintain discreet discussions, but don’t turn them to blame session. Try to learn about their issues and wished, goals and ideas. Five minutes can make people appreciated. In the end, if you find conflict between two members, take them aside. Ask them kindly to discuss the issue and leave them alone to resolve the issue. Remind them that they are stronger as a TEAM.

Power of the magic words

Most people who feel unappreciated aren’t thinking about salary or benefits. They need simple “Thank you”, “Good job”. It shouldn’t be abused (kind words lose meaning often in British small talk as are used as comma or full stop). Never underestimate need of “hi” in the morning, and “bye” when you leave. Address each person individually. No one is transparent. Teach your team to respect their time. No one dies of asking “sorry, can I interrupt?” No project will fail, because team would wait to agreed discussion time slots. In the end people needs to focus on work.

K.I.S.S. for hello

Keep it Simple, Stupid. Simple, clear rules are keys to salvation. As in your code definition of done is important, in your team plan of the day, scheduled, regular catch-ups are key to success. Codification of base rules (sensible ones) can allow you execute them. It’s your constitution that makes team feel more comfortable. What ever it is about: deployment process, meetings timings or dishwashing duties. Of course, not to many rules… K.I.S.S.

See flowers blooming

Appreciated, worry free team is far more productive. Even, if your team does small gear in corporation, your team needs feel ownership of that gear. Ownership is never built by attaching duties. Ownership is created by emotional attachment. Same like with children, pets, own house or car. People giving heart to the project owns it, care about it and give more and more. Team as family has worse days, but in the end is still a one. A lot depends on you, no matter who is on the board with you. But, if you find pests… watch video.

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I have been working in IT for about 10 years and worked with plenty of great developers, architects and designers. Many of those people formed my current skills and way of thinking. They also have shown me the biggest obstacles for developer to grow. Funny enough during the years I started to see, that few colleagues who didn’t fight those issues ran into kind of developer limbo. More successful have made one product/project and do it for years alone. Others wonder from team to team and always end up leaving because conflicts. Despite anyhow character and cultural challenges, there were always some habits that refrained them from breaking that circle of madness:

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3 min min read - September 29, 2014

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Many times recently I met a statement that people with startup experience come often with very limited set of skills. Compared to enterprise environment that spend huge amounts of money on human resources, it's obvious that level of learning may differ. Anyhow often startups delay any investment in their teams backing up that by leak of proper funds. I believe in most cases, it's because they don't see short term value in education.

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2 min min read - August 8, 2014