Who wants to be Han Solo? Feel the force and become a true team player

Posted by  Paweł Rogoza

Han Solo might bring a lot of style to the table, but he also got himself frozen in carbonite due to his free-wheeling ways. Your coding independence, much like Han's smuggling, provides several benefits, but ultimately, working on world-changing projects requires you to feel the force and act more like Luke Skywalker. Instead of getting demotivated on projects due to siloing and halting your long-term career development, use these strategies to become a true R&D team player working with smart coworkers.

Understand team member abilities

You understand your skill set inside and out, but do you know how that relates to the rest of your team? You don't need to have a deep understanding of their expertise. After all, it took them years to get to that point. However, you do need to have a surface-level understanding of their coding skill set and how it integrates with your work. With this knowledge, you can suggest better ways of working together and gain a sense of how your code fits into the overall project.

Stay on point with communication

Few things slow down projects more than poor communication. Communication plays a large part in a smoothly running development project, especially when you're involved in a multi-disciplinary group. You have to do more than simply talk with your teammates. You need to speak in a language they can relate to. If you're using highly technical terms and phrases only applicable to your area of expertise, you're not going to get a lot of comprehension from others on your team. Adapt your communication style to the overall group.

Welcome team feedback

You don't always get things 100 percent right on the first try. If you get upset or defensive about it when a peer points it out, it takes longer to fix the issue and continue with the project. Listen to team feedback with an open mind and apply the appropriate guidance to your work. Even if you don't agree with the feedback, thanking team members for providing it is more productive than arguing why they're wrong. In some cases, they may not have the technical understanding of what you're doing. You can explain your process so you're both on the same page. Compromise is a part of being a team player, so you may need to change your methods to better fit the overall group workflow.

Stay goal-oriented

At the beginning of the "Star Wars" trilogy, Han had his eyes solely on Princess Leia's wealth so he could pay his debt to Jabba the Hutt. He didn't become a part of much bigger things until he focused on the big picture. You need to shift perspective from self-motivation to overall team goals. Self-motivation can derail team cohesiveness and make projects harder to complete. When you're goal-oriented, you change the way you use your resources. You adapt to what the rest of the team is doing instead of focusing on your coder bubble.

Collaborative working environments and project methodologies are used in many innovative projects. If you want to work on interesting projects so your code gets plenty of real-world usage, you need to develop your team player skills. You might not be saving the galaxy, but as a developer, you can make the world a better place in your own way.

Paweł Rogoza

Pawel Rogoza works for Unit4's Technical Domain, supporting teams responsible for platform development of the Unit4 Business World product.