Clement May Blogs

Building a Productive IT Team

The vast majority of workplaces have long taken on board the advantages of building a decent team. Studies have shown that groups tend to have a definite edge over individuals when it comes to solving complex problems, but – as any experienced IT manager can attest – there’s a lot more to putting a productive team together than arbitrarily putting people to task. The best ones makes the most of members’ individual skills while also managing to reap the benefits of the ‘hive mind.’ We’ve put together our top tips for proven success: 

Foster open communication

Cultivating an environment where people communicate their best ideas openly and enthusiastically starts with great leadership. If the person at the top has fostered a culture of trust – where information is freely available and accessible, decision making processes are shared with the whole team and regular feedback goes both ways – morale is boosted and the entire project benefits. Increased transparency leads to increased trust which, in turn, makes for the most productive team possible.

Build relationships

Another massive advantage to nurturing a culture of trust is that employees will work towards shared goals even in your absence. If you’ve succeeded in getting to know each member of your team – their individual competencies and how they’re motivated – job satisfaction will increase and they’ll be much more inclined to feel invested in the best possible project outcomes.  It’s also key to build connections between members by taking necessary steps to improve cooperation and trust. An obvious way to do this is to brainstorm solutions to any disagreements as a group – employees will feel much more empowered and, again, the project will feel the benefits.

Allow autonomy

The most successful teams are ultra-aware of the importance of balancing autonomy and teamwork for the very best results. While an ability to work together is crucial, no one enjoys being micro-managed. As a manager, it’s essential to remember that your role is to ensure employees understand precisely what the project needs from them, but that how that’s achieved is down to the individual. 

Small is beautiful

While this isn’t something that every manager has control over, there’s now plenty of research pointing to the idea that smaller teams are much more effective than larger ones. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has described what he calls the ‘two pizza rule’ when thinking about how to conduct a productive meeting, and the same can be applied to building an effective team. Fewer people means less resorting to negative sheep mentality as members are more inclined to communicate their own ideas rather than simply agreeing with the more confident voices.

Out with the old

Many organisations are misguidedly holding onto old fashioned ideas and systems that can cause more harm than good. Are constant expenses approvals, bi-annual performance reviews and hidden, top-down decision making processes really still the best ways to run an organisation? It’s worth having regular rethinks about how whether these entrenched processes still make sense for a company operating in the 2010s. Successful organisations consistently challenge assumptions about how to get the best from employees – LinkedIn has a program where employees take an ‘interesting person’ for coffee on company time, for example, and Adobe has completely jettisoned the annual performance review.