Joining Teams
Project Management Team Communication
June 01, 2022 - Jon A.

Tips For Team Changes and Maintaining Productivity

Development teams are constantly changing, especially in today’s job market. When a change is made to a development team (or any type of team), they will probably enter a learning phase. There are several ways that teams can find themselves thrust into a learning phase: new hire/management changes, someone leaves the company, project priorities change and expertise is needed elsewhere, or even to keep teams engaged with the projects.

In agile development, we expect the team’s velocity (or speed of completion) will decline. Declines in velocity are expected, but still affect the project timeline, the project budget, and client communication; all things that can put a strain on a project and a team. So how do you reduce the impact of team changes, while still understanding it’s inevitable?

5 Tips for Smooth Transitions with Development Teams

Do a team Ice Breaker

One way to start to build team trust and camaraderie is to do an icebreaker. Depending on the company, location of the team, or importance of the project, icebreakers can look very different. For instance, a remote team may opt to come together for end-of-the-day happy hour. But an in-person scrum team may have a Scrum Master that challenges them with a scrum game before a Sprint Planning meeting. Whatever it becomes, the team can use this time to figure out how people think, treat others, and communicate.

Meet with Team Leads Frequently

While it does put more pressure on the team lead, it will ensure that the lead understands where each team member is at, especially anyone new on the team. If it’s a brand new team that’s coming together, the Team Lead may want to hold off on taking a full plate of coding work until the other members settle into a routine. Consistent communication with the team lead early on will help the team to feel comfortable discussing challenging issues with the lead if they should arise later in the project.

Peer Program with Everyone on the Team

This is particularly important if there is a new person in the company, not just the team. A new developer with the company is going to need to know a lot more about the culture and processes that the development department uses, as a whole. A great way to ensure that the new person sees the largest breadth of information is to have them peer program and shadow every person on their team. This also lets them get one-on-one time with each developer, so that they can practice communicating effectively together.

Take a Learning Approach

Instead of coming into this change thinking you know everything, come in humbly, ready to learn from the old and the new team members. This will open the doors to collaboration, great communication, and great relationships. If you are the new person on the team, consider learning everything you can about the process and the team dynamic before suggesting any changes. If you are a veteran member of the team, don’t be closed off to a new team member having a great idea that can really enhance team performance.

Ask Questions, Don’t Make Assumptions

Whether you are a newbie or a veteran, don’t make assumptions about other team members or projects. Ask the questions, even if you think they are going to roll their eyes at you (and if they do, refer them to the tip above). Asking questions is part of learning and can mitigate the amount of time spent doing rework.