Start your STOP list today to improve performance of your team 1391/04/15

Recently in our local open software talks I was talking about "How to start software development teams and keep them up". I started my talk with describing 3 type of people that may be attending the session, and asked each person in the room to let me know which group they fall into. I told them if they are attending this session either (1) they are a freelancer that wants to start a team or join a team or (2) they are already a member of a team for few months or (3) they have been working with their team for a quite long time e.g 2 years.

We discussed many things from early stages of creating a team till the being a member of mature team. As we were continuing the talk there was a pattern in the hints beings discussed: The more mature your team gets the more you need a STOP List rather than a TO-DO List.  Let me tell you why. The mature team members are professionals in their niche. They almost have any tiny skill that's needed for providing a perfect technical solution for any software problem they get into. Yet there are sometimes that they really hurt the moral of the team by tiny annoying things they do like acting if "they are the smartest guy in the room" or "having a tendency to comment on everything" or "not listening to people" ... The list can continue for ever.

You see what I mean? The problem with mature team members is not that they don't know what to do; The problem is that they don't know what to STOP. And there is another thing that makes the situation even worse: Most of the time the team member who hurts others in the team don't realize that. But everyone in the room knows that something is wrong as the heat in the room rises. And this heat raise certainly will affect the team overall performance and unity. So this is a serious business.

Let your teammates talk to you

This is kinda a personal challenge for me as I fall into the 3rd group. I've been part of a mature team (narmand) for almost 4 years. We had our ups and downs but we managed to stay together for years. But it's time to move up our teams to the next level.

But this is not going to be so easy as we should start asking people to let us know about our so called flaws and also reward them for this. As Marshall Goldsmith says in his book, may be the first thing you should stop is the "urge to be me" in yourself. You should stop saying words like "This is how I am. Deal with it". We should let our teammates talk to us and we should listen to them.

I will be writing about these flaws and STOP list items each week. So this is just the beginning. I will be happy to hear from your experience about this stop list thing. don't hesitate to start a conversation at HN or twitter :)


Anonymous — 2014-09-20
Nice point! completely fitting with my own experience. Yet, I haven't found out what to do to make my colleagues to talk more!

P.s. we stated working on a software project in a team of 7 one year ago, and now we're 6 where 1-2 of us also wants to leave! and I don't know how to reduce the leaving rate. hope you continue writing more about the items in the stop list.

Any thoughts? Please leave a reply

I'll use your email to show your picture using gravatar. I hate spam too.
Back to home

I'm Arash Milani, hacker & happiness ninja.
@narmand is our teams's lab to experiment awesome things in it.

I write and talk about hacking, developing web apps, teamwork and designing for better user experience.

You can always contact me via me[at] email address.