One thing I’ve learned in my years as a developer is that I am more eager to go to work, and am more invested in doing the best job I can, when I feel an emotional connection to my team and my employers.
That connection can take the form of friendship, or loyalty, or empathy, but if it’s there, I do better.
Knowing this about myself, I’ve always made an effort to build that connection to my team and to people in other teams throughout my company. I’m naturally a gregarious, goofy guy (sometimes to excess) and I try to use those tendencies to make friends. I also get to understand the business, what it’s doing, how all the pieces fit together and how each team contributes to the goal. And then for me, doing my part becomes more important because I know how what I do impacts everyone else.
I also know that I’ve worked for people at some of my jobs that have encouraged and facilitated this, either deliberately, opportunistically, or instinctively, because they understand that value.
Being in the lead role, it’s important I understand that I, now, also should take the time to foster that connection in my team. I don’t know if it’s in me to inspire loyalty, but even if it’s not, I think I’m not too bad at building a little friendship and empathy amongst my team. But beyond that, it’s important for me to help the people on my team get a grasp of the things that leads like myself have to get to understand implicitly, namely, the various parts of the company and how they work togther, how the work of our team impacts all those other teams, and how those teams impact our own.
By encouraging my own team to build those emotional connections, I encourage them to become more invested in their jobs. And if I succeed, I reap the twin rewards of lower turnover and greater productivity — as well as making some friends along the way.
The counterpoint to all this is an experience I’ve had many times as well — a company where those connections are not encouraged and are not valued. We’ve all been there, whether it takes the form of a boss who’s all stick and no carrot, a team that is every-man-for-himself, or a team so isolated from the rest of the company that they don’t care about anything that doesn’t directly impact them. Think on your experiences in places like this. Did you work harder, or not? Did you have an easier or harder time getting out of bed in the morning? Were you more or less willing to stay late to get the job done?
Yeah, me too.
So it’s really a no-brainer which kind of culture I want to foster in my team. So it’s just a matter of learning how.