Good communication within a team is as important as technical knowledge in software development. If you are a team leader struggling to keep things together within your team because of a lack of proper communication between individual developers, then you need to read this article to the end.
In the article, we are about to explore some critical communication tips for tech teams. But before we get started, it is essential to pay attention to this study by Queens University of Charlotte that found:
- Only 27% of employees ever receive any communication training.
- While 3 out of 4 developers agree that teamwork and collaboration are “essential”, about 39% of the surveyed professionals agreed that their organization lacks effective collaboration within teams.
- Around 73% of respondents lacked confidence in their communication skills at work.
These numbers indicate that companies lack strategies to train employees to communicate and collaborate better.
Here are the tips to overcome these challenges of poor communication within your software development team and improve workflow and collaboration.
Active listening in dev communication
Development teams collaborate through multiple channels – the good ol’ meetings, whiteboard sessions, conference calls, and more recently, over video calls when working remotely. Effective communication is a two-way street implying listeners should participate in the process through active listening.
Active listening is different from just listening to argue or reply. It involves proactively trying to understand what the speaker is trying to convey. It is essential to stay engaged with the speaker.
There are a few practical communication tips for active listening.
- Avoid holding important team meetings over voice calls. Instead, video calls are better as team members can see each other. Maintaining eye contact lets the other person know you are actively listening to what they say.
- Train the team to be neutral and not judgmental during a conversation. For instance, if a tester has reported a bug that the developers can’t replicate, then instead of mentally preparing a rebuttal to argue their decision, the tester must devise a rational way to explain the error.
- Help team members reflect on their communication. Let them know how they speak and present their opinions in a team meeting with honest and assertive feedback.
Reviews are often seen as threatening arguments by developers if they are negative. However, there are ways to minimize such technical statements from breaking out with some written communication tips.
Train developers to leave a comment on a review they receive as a question rather than a snarky comment. For instance, if a QA engineer finds a performance issue within the code, they can leave a comment instead of commanding words.
Here’s an example of a commanding comment:
Here’s the same response as a question:
There is a striking difference between the two approaches.
When the communication takes a command style, it is often because the reviewer expects that the developer has not tried the fix they are recommending. But when they ask questions, they ask for clarification from the developer about the code and offer a solution without using a dismissive tone.
It is one of the practical communication tips your team members should know.
Solve conflicts as a team
When there is a conflict between coworkers, the obvious strategy is to talk it out and rationally reach a consensus, but sometimes it hardly happens quietly. Both the parties involved in the argument often are sure that their way is the right way.
The problem with such conflicts is that they affect the whole team. The right approach here is to ask both parties to present their opinion to the entire team. Make everyone in the team aware of the conflict so they can democratically come up with a solution.
Involve developers in planning
The fastest approach to enable good communication within the software development team is to start at the beginning. A project will have software development and business planning aspects, but most dev teams fail to involve the developers at the early stage of project planning. This often-overlooked step creates communication challenges later on.
When developers are involved in the project from the beginning, they can guide the best approach to achieve specific tasks. It is one of the best communication tips for tech teams to avoid creating over-complicated plans that are too hard to implement.
Developers feel the pressure when they are asked to deliver results that are too complicated or have unreal timelines. Good planning is mandatory for project success. Keep communication transparent at all levels and prepare a list of terms and responsibilities for team members. Regardless of when a developer joins the project, they should have access to the list, so they understand their responsibility as well as of others.
Even with the most competent developers in your software development team, you cannot deliver results efficiently and without conflicts, if your team is marred with poor communication. There is always room for improvement, and we have made the essential communication tips available. Utilize them to improve the communication within your team.
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