Go Team! From gimmick to glory.

Go Team!
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Since 2008 when I became a certified scrum master, I have been using the simple chant of “Go Team!” at the end of every team meeting. Depending on who you were to ask when it first started, it may of appeared gimmicky, no one told me to do it, it wasn’t part of a motivational speech I listened to or anything else. Yet as a newly “minted” team leader on a pretty newly formed team I knew I needed to do something.

As teams go you never can really predict how the dynamics will be when people work together for the first time. In software development there seems to be more introverts than extroverts and people who just enjoy spending time working by themselves. Most of best developers I have met were inherently introverted and at first glance many people can take that as an unwillingness to engage or invest in team building.  That is just simply not true, over many conferences, books, teams, and companies I have learned that personality preferences while strong are never really the reason someone doesn’t want to work/collaborate with another.

It boils down to trust. Trust? Simple answer for a complex problem of relationships, it seems like a cop-out. Hear me out, trust is not something that can be bought, or even gained instantly, it has to be built on a foundation of positive actions and outcomes. To have successful teams or business you commonly hear “trust” is a core ingredient. How does one go about building it?

The thing about relationships is that they take work, ask any successfully happily married couple and they will tell you, “we had to work for it”. If that is true then putting people in a room together and calling them a team would be no different, it’s a relationship one that most likely was forced onto someone as well.

So why “Go Team!”? Back to the gimmick, which to be honest at first, it was. After the first scrum/release planning I simply shouted “Go Team!!!” at the top of my lungs, overly enthusiastic and somewhat like a maniac(some may say still true to this day). The first time people just looked at me, like what was I trying to do, defenses up, suspicion awry. Now like most things, repetition is key(and sincerity) and I wanted this team to be great. Any meeting we had as a team(with outside stakeholders or not) I yelled Go Team! Outsider leaderships would smile and assume that we had all our marbles together, which strangely led to less outside pestering. The team after a while saw this, let their guards down and started of course building relationships with each other. Overtime and no means strictly by the words “Go Team” we started to take pride in our work. Other’s on the team would start saying “Go Team” at the end of calls, and eventually I wouldn’t let anyone leave the meeting until they said it, because sometimes you just have to force that smile.

I know on paper it really does seem small and silly, and the real essence can’t be described in words, but if you put the enthusiasm behind something, whether it be words, actions, tasks, and show the world that pride, then others will believe it. Leadership(granted or given) is about one’s faith in themselves and the ones they lead.

My recommendation is not to just shout “Go Team” like I did(though I have been fortunate to work and build successful teams the past 8 years at every position I have been in), but to find something small, easy, and attainable and do that consistently, publicly for your team. You may stand alone at first as others try to figure you out, but the seed you plant in the garden of “relationships and teamwork” will blossom.

 

 

 

 

Christopher Taylor

Software Engineer in Test & Agile Coach
Certified Scrum Master

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