How we helped a global team of engineers, analysts, and product manager at a Fortune 500 company improve collaboration and communication and meet their timelines
- Engineering team had a culture of always saying yes and overpromising but under-delivering and missing deadlines
- Product asked for many last-minute changes with a seemingly never-ending list of new feature requests
- Engineering team was very introverted whereas Product team was very extroverted. This led to strained communication and misunderstandings where expectations were not always clearly understood
⬆️ How we turned this around:
- We organized group training sessions with Product, Engineering, and Analysts all in the same (virtual) room
- We took the team through exercises to better understand themselves and their teammates, identify their work and communication styles, and understand how these could positively or negatively impact their work relationships, especially when interacting with someone who had a different communication style
- We facilitated engaging conversations where each person discussed better ways to approach one another, taking into account their work styles and the personal traits each person shared about themselves
- We steered the conversation to team expectations and what changes would signal success for the team
- The biggest topic was around missing deadlines. The Product Manager explained they were okay with getting pushback as long as they were provided options for when the work could be delivered. They explained this would enable them to plan and set expectations with the business, rather than find out last minute that they were not going to meet a deadline and then have to scramble and soothe frustrations throughout the organization.
- Some of the engineers admitted that they had felt nervous about the idea of saying they couldn’t meet a deadline, but now felt more comfortable being transparent in their communication thanks to the agreements they made as a team with the Product Manager.
- The engineering team collectively agreed to ask more questions upfront to capture details (is this urgent? Is this a higher priority than X?) and making sure they had all the details before offering an estimate to the Product Manager.
- The engineers shared with the Product Manager that they needed to be able to ask more questions and get more context in order to better perform their job. The team mutually agreed to set check-in meetings each week to ensure they had space blocked out for Q&A as needed.
- Finally we helped the team lay the groundwork for a stronger team culture moving forward
- The team discussed how they could better support one another on team projects if they were falling behind or saw someone else falling behind
- The engineers decided they would like to understand more about the business needs behind their projects so that they could design better solutions to meet those needs.
- By the end of the training, the atmosphere and relationships between the teams was noticeably better as all the members believed there was a good path forward.
👀 Checking back in after 3 months:
- The product manager and engineering manager both agreed that their team was working together much more cohesively after implementing the new behaviors discussed in the training.
- They were no longer missing deadlines and dealing with the fallout from that; thanks to proactive communication the product manager was able to manage expectations with their stakeholders
- All members of the team agreed that communication was much more open and transparent and that this helped their workflow and ability to meet deadlines, with fewer misunderstandings and less re-work needed
- Many of the engineers also mentioned they felt more connected to the work and enjoyed knowing more about the business context
- The team said they felt closer and more understanding of each other than a typical work team would be, and that this was something they liked that happened through the training and changes they made
Also, I would like to personally thank Monica for making this training so interactive and fun. It wouldn’t have been the same without her.”
Thank you for taking the time to teach me the ropes of communication. I have really learned a lot from you.”
“What did I get from the training –
1. Knowing ‘Self’ – specially touching aspects which are usually uncomfortable to address/face, hence pushed to back burners. And guidance around addressing these challenges
2. Knowing about ‘Others’ ‘Self’ – understanding the CORE of each of team members, who they are, how they act and why they act the way they act etc. Super helpful to build the camaraderie among the team
3. Using the knowledge of self + others to bridge the communication barriers between the two
4. Other thing I keep remembering is to take baby steps, as learnt from Monica – every activity lets first take a baby step and keep moving ahead
5. And I do take away many tips I will keep using in my day-day life at work and at home
Thanks to Monica for the wonderful session, something which – the more you practice, the more you benefit.”