While the most important thing is always to finish the project well and on time, that’s difficult to achieve if you can’t get through to your workmates or the team isn’t in sync. It’s also hard to bond with your colleagues outside work, since DevOps teams are often so heterogeneous or even geographically dispersed.
DevOps environments can be very objective-focused and lacking in empathy, but here are a few things you might try to connect to your teammates better and achieve a more enjoyable and motivating work climate.
DevOps Team: Get in the right mindset
If you’re only there to get a paycheck and care about nothing else, you will have a hard time contributing to the team effort. As a result, not only will your human connections suffer, but the quality of your work and objectives as well. Know that you are not a one person army and you are not able to deliver a whole project, without errors and on time, by yourself. Remember to get into the teamwork mindset when you start work every day, and be willing to help and be helped by your fellow teammates.
Help your DevOps team communicate openly, honestly and respectfully
You might say that these aspects of communication are superfluous, but you’d be surprised by how many times we forget them and get carried away, wasting opportunities to make our teams shine. Express your thoughts and ideas openly, while also allowing your colleagues to express theirs fully and without fear of judgement. In a great team, everyone should feel heard and respected by their teammates, and not fear being put down by the others. That way, you’ll be able to find the best solutions to common problems and come up with the most innovative ways to achieve the team’s goals.
Assume good intentions
When under pressure with tight deadlines, large workloads and maybe some things going wrong, it’s easy to fall in the trap of blaming others and thinking they’re doing something wrong “on purpose”. However, the fact is that everyone on your team is just trying to achieve their objectives as best they can. So assume that people are good and they want the same things you do. That way it will be much easier to communicate with your workmates transparently, avoid conflicts and keep things running smoothly. At times you might be frustrated by this approach, but in the vast majority of cases, everyone will indeed have good intentions. It’s just a matter of harmonizing them.
Appreciate and learn from others
An ideal team is made up of people with diverse backgrounds and skill sets that complement each other, so that by working together the best outcomes can be achieved and no one ends up being swamped with work that should be done by others. Appreciate the expertise and knowledge that other colleagues have and let them know you do - you’ll notice how they become more appreciative of you as well, and that will be the start of doing great work together (and even connecting outside work). Don’t forget to also take every opportunity to learn from them and expand your own skills. It’s just an extra benefit of working as a team.
Bring structure to DevOps team interactions
Clear, transparent and efficient communication is crucial in DevOps environments. However, while you may already have all the communication channels and tools available - chat tools, wikis, common repositories, etc. - you also need to ensure they are efficient and help rather than hinder your communication efforts.
For example, you could try to agree on a set of conventions for Slack communications that improve predictability and discoverability - these can range from the way channels are named, to which channels should be used for which types of conversations and between which teams, to sharing policies and so on.
If most of your team is working remotely, than it can help to sometimes “over communicate”, to make sure everyone is on the same page. You should share even small group decisions in your chat tool of choice, make a presentation to explain important concepts, and document procedures or designs in a wiki or shared document. The importance of the latter cannot be overstated - good documentation is essential for ensuring common understanding among team members, as well as the transferability of knowledge and practices. It can also save you a lot of time that might otherwise be spent on trying to explain things via chat or email - not to mention that some people actually communicate better through code notes, for example, than through regular conversations.