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Benefits of Good Communication

17 May 2011 Comments off

6 minutes

1255

This article is sponsored by TLC Powertalk and written by Peter Pilgrim

 

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If you have one member in a SCRUM team that is not an effective communicator than your team is performing sub optimally.

The benefits of good communication are important to todays software developers, designers and architects. If you look at the world of business you will find that almost all job specifications and advertisements require a degree of communication ability. Technology is not a panacea.

Let us think about that dirty word “Agile” that some people are upset about the over-usage these days. Agile is the ability for the software development process to have a feedback mechanism for the ultimate users of the product that we as engineers are creating. In any control system with a feedback one can think of an interaction. If we are people in the software business need to interact, then it stands to reason, we need to able to communicate.

 

Listen!

 

Pair Programming / Code Reviewing Sessions

In order to pair-program effectively, we need to use all of our senses: listening (audio receiver) and talking (audio sender), reading and writing (visual sense), and also discuss the objectives of the code (feelings), and for the majority of our time put away our emotions when as individuals we do not agree with the code as where we would have like to write it. In other words pairing requires individuals to work and communicate as a team. There is a team goal and that is the delivery the best quality software to the stakeholder. Developers need effective communication in order to efficiently work in a self-organised team. If you have one member in a SCRUM team that is not an effective communicator than your team is performing sub optimally.

Let us take the daily stand-up or sit-down. If the SCRUM master is not disciplined enough with the team, or rather the team is not self organised enough, then it is possible for the meeting to drag on longer than 15-20 minutes, because members of the team add different items to the agenda.

When the communication is poor in a SCRUM team, then you can be sure that the velocity is going to be affected. The evidence will show as the team will be slow to build to trust and self-esteem in the team itself. If the team is pairing then it could be worse, because much like professional football teams there is no gelling in the team. There will be a lower awareness of the big picture of the project. Concentration of the team will dip in and out on a day-by-day basis. It will take longer time to develop software in a high enough quality that the product owner ( if he or she remain loyal to the team) will accept the requirement as being done. And of course, given the state of the software, whether it shipped or in UAT lifecycle, there will be more bugs and errors. Burn-down of the overall product backlog will be approaching flat. Effective communication inside the team at least provide knowledge share and the chance that team can improve whereas in non-communicating team this possibility is zero.

 

 

Listen!

Presentations

In speaking to an audience during a presentation, we need to be able to communicate effectively in these situations as well. Presenters must capture the mood, the profile the audience, the occasion and the environment. The presenters need to write an abstract, design the content and if necessary write the demos. Finally, there is the whole aspect of delivery. Communication is extremely important for presentations. It can make the difference between you and your performance being reported back to the management as a damp squib or as a rousing rockstar.

If you are working in global team, where there are separate sub teams working together in different time zones around the planet, then having good communication and delivery is very important. If you cannot communicate the ideas of about the software changes, change order requests or the bug tickets, then there is risk of the software quality decreasing rapidly and that the delivery of the project being late or misunderstood or both, because different located teams have differing perceptions of the entire whole picture.

 

Listen!

Interviews and Informal Chats

Going for a interview today or tomorrow? In job interviews you are nowadays assessed on your cultural fit into the business.How well you answer competency questions and how you perform? How does one prepares beforehand? How do you write your elevator pitch? Candidates must know how to answer questions from the interview, as well as knowing the essentials of body language and building rapport. Communication is important here.

Let us switch tables, now suppose you are the interviewer. Do you get frustrated by the way you ask what seem to be perfectly valid questions and the candidates are confused? Perhaps it has to do with your body language. Could it be that you are too competitive? Perhaps your body language could be changed so that the candidates feels that you are approachable and open to a conversation? In a hard economic climate, it perhaps does not matter too much that interviewing technique is not too perfect, but what happens in the boom times or when they will return. Finding the correct and suitable culture may have to a lot to do with with the way you communicate to the prospective top talent that you hope to persuade to join or contract into your firm.

 

Development Leaders

Being a development leader, whether technical or team lead, is all about having good communication. How do you motivate a team? Do you understand what to do when a team member is not making the grade? Or on the other hand what if you have an outstanding individual in your team, how do you keep them interested and running in the long game? How do raise your game? How can you lead by example if you have a lack of confidence about being vocal yourself? Do you listen to issues when members of your team raise them or do you have the habit of dropping the ball? Are you approachable or indifferent? How well do listen both upstream and downstream levels of authority? And do you have the respect of your team? How do you resolve conflict?

As you can see above, software development today has become increasing people-oriented over the decades. The computer whizz kids of yesteryear have given way to digital social literature members of society, in the work place and communal living. There is no longer acceptance for communication ineptitude in the commercial world.

Communication is also down to your way to approach digital media. Do you respond effectively to call to actions? What is your response time to an email request?

In a nutshell, if you want get on, then you need to have good communication skills and it does not matter whether you are an engineer or a manager. For a software developers, communications is the giving, receiving, sharing of a ideas, knowledge and feelings about a software application, a website, module or automated system – and most importantly about the effects of those systems on people who must operate with them on a daily basis. The value of communication is key.

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