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Growing Team Skills

I love the idea of growing teams. Team dynamics are really important and we have to be conscious of how we work together if we want to be able to reflect on how well the team are doing. It’s useful to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the team, together and individually so that we can a) improve and b) match people to tasks, and teams to projects. It all contributes to a happy working environment.

Often, new or junior developers worry about the barrage of new and unfamiliar technologies. In my opinion, technologies are such a small part of what we do but it can be useful to be explicit about individual competencies to re-assure the bedazzled new developer. In this post, I present a tool I came up with to help, a kind of competency depth distribution chart.

It works like this;

As a team, define the technologies that are important / exotic / of interest. Rank them by importance. Try to limit to around 5-10. Start the distribution chart, along the Y axis you’ll list the technologies, ranked by importance and on the X, the Dreyfus Scale of Competency. The team must agree on the ranking of technologies and agree on their understanding of the Dreyfus scale.

Next, each team member grades themselves on the scale for each technology. It’s important to be honest. The team can then agree and plot the desired competency in each area on a separate sheet (the black line in the example below). Each individual can then see immediately their delta and use it to focus their personal development.

If the team choose to come together and share their individual charts, they’ll be able to see how the team compares to their minimum requirements. It might be that some people are strong in some area and others less so. In this case, there’s an obvious knowledge sharing opportunity and it might be that the urgency to close the delta changes. For example, if there is already an expert in some technology on the team, the others may not need to stress. Hopefully, you can start to look at the needs of the team and not the individual. Working through this as a team can also help build trust which is vital to healthy plants, sorry, teams.

If the Dreyfus scale seems a little too harsh, you could always try a scale to reflect general confidence in the area. This tool doesn’t have to be about technologies, it can be about any competencies that you want analyse.

Over to you...