Meet your team where they are

There’s a lot of cool stuff out there that I’ve never had a chance to work with, and having just finished watching all of the .NET Conf 2020 videos(!), I’m excited to see what’s on the horizon and what’s available now. So I should probably just start suggesting this stuff when I’m working on a team, right?

Wrong. Dead wrong. As wrong as a person can be.

The team, any team has a culture, and that culture, the business context, the political context, the financial context, and the social context dictate how much a team can take on and whether the team is willing to learn something new. One of the many mistakes I’ve made is to try to show I can help out by suggesting new things to try; and that’s never worked well for me in situations where all those contexts weren’t lined up in my favor.

Sometimes people say no not because something can’t be done, but because something can’t be done given the current culture, political, business, or social context on the team. Recognizing the difference will go a long way to helping your team grow and thrive.

P.S., if the team is pushing back with ‘no’ a lot (an unenthusiastic ‘yes’ is also a no), it’s worth examining those contexts; what’s going on? What’s keeping the team from being engaged? The answers may surprise you.

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