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R-E-S-P-E-C-T Find Out What it Means...to Your Team

Over the Holidays I went hiking with my dad and one of his friends; a developer who worked with bitcoin security. When I mentioned to him what my job was and how much I liked my coworkers he said, "What you don't know is how much the devs hate you behind your back." We both chuckled but what he said made me think...is that really how my devs feel about me?

Once back I mentioned the comment off-handedly during a casual meeting and was met with a resounding "NO". All the developers at our company loved the testers and appreciated the work we do (and visa versa). However, the internet memes surrounding the dev to tester relationship paint a different story.

When considering why my relationships were so different I ruled out coincidence and decided the answer is a top-down display of mutual respect among coworkers that fosters a healthy work environment. Not every company has the same leadership but I really believe that one individual has the power to change the culture of a team and if no one else is stepping up to the plate, it may as well start with you

In my own team there are three principles of respect that I try to adhere to every day when interacting with everyone on my team: Respect of Work, Respect of Time, and Respect of the Individual.


Respect the Time

"Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend." – Theophrastus.


Time may seem trivial, but think about the actual monetary value of the time you spend talking to someone. The average salary for a developer in the US is 86,599 which means every minute of their time is worth $0.76 (52 weeks * 5 workdays - 21 vacation days / 8 hours / 60 minutes). That may not seem like a lot but if you spend 30 minutes asking questions you could have googled you essentially spent $22.80 on those questions. That's four lattes or two Chipotle burritos (depending on your vice).

Which brings me to my point; is the time you're taking up worth two burritos? Or would you rather google those questions and have a burrito today and another for tomorrow?

Respect the Work

“Without feelings of respect, what is there to distinguish men from beasts?” — Confucius


When you're picking apart a developer's work remember that they may have put blood, sweat, and tears into this code. The same goes for checking a peer's work, or a PM's work. It's business but it's also personal. When reviewing another's work use language that conveys your understanding of the effort put in behind the scenes. That means no "wtf is this??", "who even tested this?" or, "did they even read the AC??" comments in tickets and stories. It means kindly bringing up recurring issues in a retro instead of putting a developer on blast for one ticket.

If this doesn't appeal to you, I get it. You may work at a company where developers don't test their own code, or one where quality falls totally on the tester and the code you get is actual poop. But you may actually change the quality of the work you're getting if you treat it as though it's willing of respect in the first place.


Respect the Individual

“If you have some respect for people as they are, you can be more effective in helping them to become better than they are.” -John Gardner


Back in my support days I had a reputation for winning over all the 'grumpy mean people'; the 'Karen's and Kevin's' if you will. Anytime I had a customer that seemed to have a bone to pick with every call I made it my mission that they would feel heard, accepted, and loved by me. (I fully recognize that it's crazy to have a goal of making people feel 'loved' on a support call but it's kind of my MO.)

Every call that came through I made a point to listen and respond with grace instead of with agitation or combativeness. And 99 times out of 100 I was able to create a safe space for our customers to air their grievances without the need to shout or swear. In fact I still get emails from some of these customers because they just want to check in and see how I'm doing.

The people you are interacting with at your job are real thinking, breathing, and feeling human beans. Therefore, treat them as such. Treating people with respect without mandating that they 'earn your respect' goes a long way in improving team relationships and I believe it's the most important aspect of a healthy team.


(PS-I apologize for the Kim K.)

How are the relationships on your team? Good? Bad? Ugly?


What do you believe is the best way to build a healthy team?

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