What If My Team Isn’t An Open Team?

January 25, 2011

Chapter 8 – Open Teams

Working remotely works much better with an open team because being distributed makes communication more difficult. Your teams needs to go out of its way to make this happen. If you aren’t a manager you probably feel like you make your team change the way they work. If you are a manager you know you can’t.

If most of your team is located in the same location you probably won’t have much luck making them change the way they work just for you. Calling a meeting and announcing that you have read a new book and want to make the entire team change will get you nowhere. However, you have an awesome power to change your team; even more than your manager. Your manager can only tell the team to change, you can show them how.

When you want to open your team the process is simple: fake it until you make it. Act like your team is open and it will become open. Open yourself up to your team’s criticism. It is simple, but also really scary.

Ask someone on your team for help or advice. Do it publicly, and make it someone more junior on the team than you are. Start by asking for a code review. Make it clear you want their help to make your code better. Then comes the hardest part: take some of their advice and thank them publicly.

Let everyone on your team see what happened. You picked someone, asked for help, make your code better, and thanked them. Then repeat the process again. It doesn’t take long before one of your coworkers will try it, probably the person you were asking for help. This process will make your code better, but it will also make your team open up.
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