As an introvert, I don’t like ice breakers or team building exercises at team meetings. Building the team camaraderie is done slowly over time with peers you work with. Daily interactions during work help build that as engineers learn to trust each other. What about for a team that does not interact with each other on a regular basis? How do you build that camaraderie?
I used to work for a small CLEC or telco for seven years. We got to know each other well. We knew what each other’s strengths or weaknesses were and we worked as a team. If one member needed something done, but was at another site or too busy, someone else stepped in and helped. After the telco, I moved to a large medical clinic. There we had a small network team that again worked well together. We got to know each other. Everyone had systems that they were primarily responsible for, but knew how to administer every system to some degree. If someone had a challenging problem, they would get help from other team members who may have a different perspective. When we had resolved something we shared that knowledge with our peers.
After working in enterprise networks for years, I decided to make a change and work for a VAR. I am on the professional services side of the house doing the implementations for whatever the sales team has sold. It is fun and rewarding. However, we typically work with a client for a short period of time before moving on to the next project. I work with some smart engineers, but use the term ‘with’ loosely. It is not common that more than one of us are working on the same project at the same time. More often than not, an engineer works by themselves with the client.
We are all social creatures, no matter how introverted we all are. We all want to belong to something. We want to share what we experience. As engineers, we can usually figure out how to get something working or how to fix a problem ourselves. However, there are times when you need that team mate to bounce ideas off of or to get a different perspective on the situation. Sometimes I use email lists of peers or IM another engineer directly. We have an internal collaboration system called WebEx Social that we can share ideas or challenges with peers. Twitter is another great resource for interacting with peers, as long as you keep it short. But none of those replace the personal interaction with your peers.
I do miss being on a technical team where I work with my peers regularly, but that is part of the consulting world. There are ways to help build some of that team camaraderie, like Twitter, email lists, social sites, etc, but it is just not the same and the team members have to participate. Do you work on a team that does not have regular interaction? How do you build that camaraderie within your team?