Increase Cohesiveness and Respect on Your Software Team
How to Get Everyone Pulling in the Same Direction

Increase Cohesiveness and Respect on Your Software Team : How to Get Everyone Pulling in the Same Direction

It will come as no surprise that we are more easily influenced by people we like. However, you may not have realized what factors influence your decision to like someone, as explained in Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Revised Edition by Robert B. Cialdini. Having an awareness of these factors will help you manage your relationships for maximum mutual benefit. The factors are outlined in the list below.

  • Physical Attractiveness - it has been proven in numerous studies that people who are physically attractive are automatically assigned other virtuous characteristics such as kindness, honesty, talent, and intelligence even though there is no actual correlation. While there may not be a lot you can do to improve your looks dramatically (short of extensive plastic surgery), you will find that looking your best will have a positive impact on your ability to influence others.
  • Similarity - You will find countless practical resources that reference this topic in a variety of social contexts. Job interviewers are advised to adopt mannerisms of their interviewers. Sales personnel always seem to have the same hobbies and interests as you do. This is not a coincidence. Research shows that we are more easily influenced by people we view as similar to ourselves.
  • Compliments - We have a strong tendency to believe everything good that someone else says about us (and we like them for saying it), even when we have full realization that their interests may be self-serving.
  • Cooperation vs. Competition - Research demonstrates that when a group of people cooperate toward a common goal, there is a significant increase in their liking for each other. On the other hand, people or groups of people that find themselves in competition with each other tend to increase their level of dislike for each other.
  • Conditioning and Correlation - people have a tendency to assign a similar like or dislike to things that are correlated or associated (guilt by association). How often have you made a judgment of someone's character based on who they hang around? The phrase "Don't shoot the messenger" originated from ancient ruler's propensity to eliminate the bearers of bad news, even though they weren't responsible for the outcome. This practice is still common today. It is not uncommon to see leaders scrambling to get out from projects when it becomes clear the results are not going to be positive. Association to a failed project is the death knell to one's career ascension aspirations. It doesn't matter if the failure is due to mismanagement on their part, or just due to a number of other factors over which they had no control. As Shakespeare said, "The nature of bad news infects the teller."

Practical Application in Software Development Teams

Being a likeable manager will improve your ability to positively influence your team members. While you might think that it's enough to "not be a jerk," it may be beneficial to consider the following ideas for improving your team member's liking for both you and others on the team.

  • Encourage team members to share personal tidbits - While the workplace is a place to get work done, allowing some personal chatter can improve group cohesiveness. You will find that you likely have some common interests with each of your team members. Discovering common interests will improve the appreciation and liking that you have for each other. This will improve your ability to influence them as their leader. Who would have known that some idle chatter now and then would improve workplace productivity?
  • Compliment your team members - You should remember to frequently compliment your team, both individually and collectively. People love compliments, and they like the people who give them.
  • Communicate the team goals - Make sure that your team understands what the collective goals and objectives are. Make sure that all member understands how each member contributes to the common goal. Demonstrating how everyone is working toward the same objective will help foster collaboration and cooperation within the team.
  • Avoid Competition - You may be of the opinion that inspiring the competitive spirit is good for productivity. This is fine as long as the competition is some entity outside of the organization. However, internal competition among teams or team members may foster dislike or jealousy. It is usually more effective to encourage cooperation.
  • Monitor and Coach Team Member EQ - While Emotion Intelligence (EQ) is a study unto itself, and beyond the scope of this article, make sure that each of your team members possess an adequate EQ. Members who possess insufficient EQ may require coaching to improve in this area. For more information on EQ, you can check out Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves.

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