Aleksandra Stępska | Project management | 03.03.2021
Is recruiting the best IT specialists on the market and assigning them to one project enough to build a good team? Nowadays, in the developing world of IT, full of new companies, projects and specialists, hard skills, i.e. specialist competences or substantive knowledge, are increasingly not viewed as the most important factor when it comes to achieving professional success. Soft skills, meaning “personal, social, interpersonal and communication skills” which are much more difficult to acquire than technical skills, are often necessary when starting a job or aiming for a promotion. Find out how to build a good team and why personality types, character matching and soft skills are so important when choosing members of a Development Team.
As per the Agile Manifesto, Agile methodologies value “people and interactions over processes and tools”. This results in an increased need for contact and cooperation between people occupying various roles in a project. These people are often characterized by different perspectives, with different motivations and goals. However, only with effective cooperation between all members engaged in a project is it possible to achieve collective success – delivering the best possible software to the client.
In the Agile methodology, so-called soft skills are important, such as:
In addition, a lot depends on the feedback received from both clients and team members during regular meetings – known as retrospectives. Therefore, the ability to give, receive and respond to feedback is also necessary for development in an agile environment. Considering the limited project documentation, asking clear questions is also a highly appreciated quality. Additionally, it is worth being sympathetic and trying to meet the needs of other people involved in the project: clients, members of the Development Team, business representatives and managers. Taking into account the dynamic development of the IT world and the general trend towards globalization, additional challenges often include social or cultural differences, and continuous improvement of soft skills should help to overcome these barriers.
In an environment which varies in terms of seniority, culture, or the motivation of individual employees, it is not easy to remain objective and calm. Stressful situations such as disagreements or upcoming deadlines for the delivery of a new version of a product, where documentation is often incomplete, make communication and the ability to resolve conflicts an essential aspect of success in a project. What’s more, working with agile methodologies is very dynamic, and changes are an integral part of the day-to-day work of Development Teams. All of this generates a lot of stress, and burnouts are hard to avoid. In stressful situations, it is worth remembering that there are guideposts in the form of Scrum values.
5 Scrum values
Effective cooperation between team members is an extremely important aspect of working in a Scrum Team. Only by working together can we meet the goals of a Sprint and deliver valuable software. A Scrum team should be guided in their work by 5 values:
A stressful working environment, changing requirements, and cooperation with people who often have different points of view call for some kind of flexibility and mental resilience.
People who are prone to stress, too timid, or afraid to speak out may find working in an agile environment hard. But what would collaboration look like if all team members were bold, extroverted, and always putting their feet down? It sounds like a recipe for constant chaos and fierce competition. So how can you choose team members effectively when it comes to character?
Fortunately, there are some helpful tools for this. One of the most popular is the easy-to-perform Belbin personality test that distinguishes nine roles in the team in terms of behavior:
Each role has its own strengths and weaknesses, and the team should consist of different, complementary roles. The ideal team should consist of all nine roles. However, we need to bear in mind that one person can fulfill more than one role, and they can also evolve with the seniority and experience of a given team member.
Another tool worth mentioning is the DISC model (Dominant, Inspiring, Supportive, Cautious), which distinguishes four personalities:
People with a given personality type have similar behaviors, working and communication styles. It may also be easier or more difficult for them to collaborate with people characterized by other attitudes. However, similarly to the Belbin roles, only the combination of the above-mentioned personalities in the team can guarantee success here as well.
Apart from choosing team members carefully, the level of teamwork is also important. The Scrum Master plays an important role here, and he can positively influence the team by:
This way, the cooperation between individual team members improves and the risk of conflicts is minimized. However, even in the most harmonious and carefully selected teams, conflicts cannot be completely avoided.
It is worth remembering that, at the end of the day, the team members have a common goal – to provide software of the highest possible quality and functionality as quickly as possible and at the lowest possible cost. Despite the differences in the context of personalities, origins, roles or seniority, only thanks to cooperation does the project have a chance to succeed. It is good to bear in mind that unresolved, ignored conflicts build up over time, and the best way to cooperate effectively is to quickly settle discussions to prevent conflicts from growing and escalating.
How to build a good team? It turns out that the key to success increasingly often lies in knowledge of personality types, the development of soft skills and the selection of team members so that they complement each other. Each team member has a different, valuable contribution to make. Agile methodologies such as Scrum foster the development of teams based on communication and trust, and the Scrum Master plays an important role in this process. At the end of the day, it is worth remembering that Scrum is not a recipe for avoiding conflicts in a team, but a path to continuous improvement.