I’ve found myself asking a question regularly during projects, from the very early days when I didn’t know what I wanted with my work till these days when I often mentor and lead other developers.
“Do you trust me?”
It’s funny how it’s meaning can be so different depending on the situation we find ourselves in, and yet the impact of it’s answer consistently empowering … or productively destroying.
I remember a time while at Aqueduct when we were solidifying the Frontend team. For over a year I had been juggling the demands of managing an array of freelancers and I had finally got the opportunity to hire someone to join me and form a team. I trawled through reams of CVs and websites, I interviewed several candidates to find the person who would fit.
There were a few very capable candidates, but what surprised me was that I started looking less at qualifications the more met people. Then in came someone who had less experience and less exposure but had a lot of heart. I knew I could trust this guy, and that he might also trust me. Roll on a couple of years and any lack of experience was forgotten about. He was able to take on the team when I left and help it grow even further.
If we build an environment of trust, it is empowering. Without it most of our effort is spent convincing people rather than doing the work and making progress.
Trust can be messy. Actually the reality that I’ve found is that there’s always an amount of “mess” whether you embrace it or sweep it under the carpet. The difference is that you allow yourselves to see it. Embracing the existence of mistakes, the openness of failure also sends a strong message. It says that “we won’t sweep things under the carpet” what you see from the outside is a true reflection of what is going on and that is very refreshing.
So let’s build a team environment that empowers and makes progress. If you are a junior don’t undervalue your interpersonal qualities. Finally, do yourself a favour, allow yourself to see the mess and make the most of it.