Thunder Data Systems

Fixing a Dysfunctional Team

Fixing a Dysfunctional Team

Every Monday morning our team engages in a sprint planning meeting.  Starting with a retrospective of the prior week, we discuss problems, successes, and ideas from individually posted notes on each topic  Intended to be frank discussions, we are openly enthusiastic about the good things that occur, but our challenges and frustrations are generally veiled.  The goals of a retrospective aim to improve the team’s flow, but if we aren’t honest about the challenges we’re facing, they are simply a waste of time.

During a retrospective six weeks ago, my Post-it note read:  “We are a dysfunctional team.”

For a couple of weeks, I felt frustrated and unhappy with the office atmosphere.  No one was complaining, work was getting completed, and there was no list of dissatisfying issues.  But there was a palpable sense of unhappiness among the team.  My posted note opened a long closed Pandora’s box, and so began our first real steps to re-creating the team.

We are not alone.

At SXSW, no less than four panels tossed around the subject of developer/staff relationships.  The consistency of the theme was surprising.  Two questions begged answers:  what factors lend themselves to these difficult relationships, and how do we change team dynamics?  I was on a quest to find answers and work on fixing our own team.

To start, we discussed what we collectively felt were the primary requirements of a <i>functional</i> team: trust, honesty, partnership, and commitment.  We were failing at all of them, and the negative pall cast on the office was tangible.

Each month, we’ll share the changes made and the results realized as we attempt to overcome the obstacles that prevent us from realizing our potential

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