Ensuring your tech team is working as a true unit with trust and camaraderie takes real management skill. Like any group, IT departments are filled with a range of personalities with varying work and communication styles. But with everything on the team’s plate—from developing new software and applications to serving as the company’s tech maintenance crew—it’s vital that the members of a company’s tech department build a true foundation of real teamwork.
Employing some proven strategies and engaging in team-building exercises can help you bring the members of your tech department together. Below, 15 members of Forbes Technology Council share their best team-building tips for CTOs and tech leaders.
1. Play Together
Step outside of those projects and do fun things together that are challenging and interesting to the tech team. This will build teamwork, trust and understanding. – Chalmers Brown, Due
2. Give Them A Goal To Accomplish Every Day
Consider what makes other teams within your organization successful. Typically, it’s the culture that the leaders foster and the goals they set. Make sure your team is working together and give them goals they can achieve each day. My teams know that they are expected to do things well and make a contribution. – Richard Wang, Coding Dojo
3. Brush Up On Your Soft Skills
Make sure that your team leaders and managers have exceptional soft skills. They’re in the trenches every day with the team, and it’s essential that they have the ability to keep the team motivated and engaged. They need to be adept at making small gestures of encouragement, as well as able to keep undesirable behavior in check. – Cedric Savarese, FormAssembly
4. Stay Radically Responsive
Tech leaders should encourage their team to treat every interaction with urgency. We built a framework around this called “The Responsive Method,” and it drives our entire business. Being radically responsive allows you to be there for people when they need you most. The more you make this choice, the more value you create with customers and teammates. – Brian de Haaff, Aha!
5. Hug It Out
This will sound silly to the stuffier side of the business community, but in my company, we hug. There’s no faster way to build a relationship of trust and a feeling of unity within a team than to have a little physical, but professional, contact between team members when greeting each other or saying goodbye. Even the most misanthropic people tend to feel some camaraderie with the people they hug. – Ron Cogburn, Exela Technologies
6. Start Hacking
Hackathons not only spark innovation, but also promote teamwork and collaboration. Team members work toward a shared mission of finding solutions to real-life problems. It is an excellent way to enable knowledge sharing and stimulate creativity. As tech teams make headway in turning initial concepts into prototypes, they build camaraderie and gain mutual respect for one another. – Christopher Yang, Corporate Travel Management
7. Build A Horizontal Hierarchy
For proper trust and camaraderie, you need a horizontal hierarchy. It promotes creativity by not stifling opinions, creates a network of peers instead of a bureaucratic system and bestows employees with actual enthusiasm for the products created. Instead of applying ersatz team-building exercises, your entire methodology is built by the team itself. – Artem Petrov, Reinvently
8. Find A Common Passion Outside Work
It’s wise to find a common passion among team members outside the workplace, preferably within the realm of entertainment. Tech teams are always under pressure to deliver more with less, and collectively embracing escapism can provide needed levity during tough times. Whether it’s a TV series, movie franchise, sport, etc., actively support your team members to create that sense of fellowship. – Todd Rebner, Cyleron
9. Empower Smaller Teams
At our company, we are believers in empowering small teams. A team with qualified individuals encompassing diverse perspectives and trained in inclusive decision-making principles will make good decisions. This empowerment is essential to making deadlines without draining employees. – Wendy Hamilton, TechSmith
10. Plan Celebratory Events
Celebrating successes is important in keeping a software development team cohesive and energized. They often have to be reminded of the achievement resulting from their collective efforts. I like to take the team out for dinner or lunch or organize an “all hands” event after the release of a large project. It is a way for me to acknowledge their hard work and show my appreciation to all members. – Chris Kirby, Retired
11. Share Customer Stories
Our engineering and product team gets the most enjoyment when they’re able to see our customers using the product they’ve spent months building. We absolutely love hearing how this product they’ve built has impacted our customers’ days, lives and careers. Don’t forget to celebrate and share these moments with the entire team. – Ryan Chan, UpKeep Maintenance Management
12. Learn, Upgrade And Share Knowledge
Tech teams are constantly under pressure to deliver multiple projects simultaneously. Hence it’s very important to continuously learn, upgrade and share the knowledge among the team to ensure everyone is abreast of what is happening. And when it comes to learning, technical as well as functional aspects of a system should be focused upon so that the business case is always on the forefront. – Sachin Deshpande, Qualitas IT Private Limited
13. Give Tech Teams Distinct Areas Of Ownership
The functional boundaries that are typical in traditional technology organizations—business planning, project management, software engineering, quality assurance—don’t work in many cases because they scatter responsibility and accountability across disparate teams. It’s more effective to set up small, cross-functional teams that are fully responsible for their own technology components. – Maarten Wensveen, Cimpress
14. Lead From Behind
Like a shepherd, you must lead from behind in order to know what is happening with each member of your team and to keep them together as a collective. Discussing and refining ideas and making decisions together not only increases the level of innovation, but also makes each member feel valuable. For this reason, the No. 1 tip is having intellectual discourse and debate on a common basis. – Ankit Sharma, Inventive Byte
15. Catch Them Doing Things Right
The most important thing you can do after you have the right team in place is to foster a culture of excellence, and this starts with catching the team doing things right. Yes, you actively look for specific things that a team member does right, and you call that out to encourage the right behavior. And this also makes it easier for you to have the crucial one-on-one conversation when someone messes up. – Vivek Agarwal, XTIVIA, Inc.