I manage a socially awkward team and this is leading to problems with communication.
Ever since I started at the company, and before I managed the team, I noticed how quiet the team was, and how reluctant they were to want to engage with others in the office.
My boss has now raised this as an issue to me, saying it is leading to other problems, such as not wanting to talk to other teams when doing so would quickly resolve matters. My team resort to using IT systems in place as a means to avoid making contact with others in the company.
It was put to me that my team, and others in the office, just don't work together as a team and the root cause of this appears to be a lack of willingness to communicate.
I know people on my team lack good interpersonal skills. They have little interest in social events, and often put off other teams communicating with them because of their behaviour.
We all sit next to each other, leading to complaints that we sit too close to each other because the desks are too small. My personal opinion is that by being situated closely to each other I would have hoped there would be no problems with communication.
The office used to be really quiet, but there are some new starters who make a lot of noise, and there have been constant complaints from people on my team about the noise being made, even though I consider the noise to be banter and employee bonding, to improve work relationships.
So the crux of what I need is for the team to communicate more effectively.
One particular example is when a bug is assigned to someone on my team, they take a quick look and can't see the problem, so mark the bug as unable to reproduce. This sends the bug back to the test team and they then have to get more people such as their boss involved to get the bug fixed, when what we really want is for the people on my team to go and speak to the tester who raised the bug so that they can see for themselves what the problem is.
I've said many times to my team about increasing our visibility, about going to talk to other team members, and to socialise in the office more to improve relationships.
It seems that beating the team with a stick and saying this needs to happen has not resolved the issue, so what can I do to make my team communicate more effectively, internally, and with other teams?
Social activities usually take place during work hours. I can only think of events at Christmas where social activities have taken place outside of work hours. For each social event, it is the people in the office who decide what is generally going to happen: the company doesn't force random social events on anyone.
We each have our own desk. Although small, they are individual desks. I have raised the issue of the desks being small before, but we have other offices with the same size desks and the staff are happy with the size of them and this is often cited as a reason for not getting bigger desks amongst other reasons.
The bug reports include videos and the steps required to reproduce the bugs. My boss and I take one look at them and see the problem, but the developers don't follow the instructions and then mark the bugs as unable to produce in a very lazy manner. Then they don't bother to ask the testers who reported the bugs for help on reproducing the bugs.
We have two development teams, and we often have to create specifications to get both teams software to work together, but when the two teams won't even talk to each other, what happens is one team goes off and does one thing and the other team goes off and does something else. As managers we don't want to micromanage. We want to let the teams to define the interfaces because they are senior developers and it is their responsibility within the company to do so.
I was a developer before I was a manager, and I prefer text-based communication over meetings and discussions. That said, I do think there is a balance between quickly just discussing something with someone to get a resolution without sitting there for a couple of days struggling and not saying anything, or just going off and doing your own thing despite being told what specifically needs to happen, with the reason given for doing so as they thought they knew better, yet didn't ask what the reasons were for the decisions made.
My boss has cited me as a role model for what he would like, because I do get up from my desk and go and sit with the testers and go through problems, I do speak to the project manager and I do talk with the other development team to better understand the software they deliver. Trying to teach my team to do the same is easier said than done as they are long serving members of staff and reluctant to change.