Each Ukrainian IT team is divided into two camps of developers and company top managers separated from each other with a gap. Relationships between them are determined by the complex and hidden unconscious emotions that are not so easy to recognize. Such emotions distort communication within the team and act as a brake in the interaction of employees. Often, programmers and their leaders are hampered by fear: they are afraid of each other. Valeria Kozlova, the emotional intelligence mentor, founder of the CORPORATE-EQ, told AIN.UA how to solve the problem.
PECULIARITIES OF NATIONAL IT
The Ukrainian developers, as per the Western standards, are unusually young. The age of every third is between 21 and 25 years old. More than 75% of programmers are under 30, and 4% have not yet become 20 years of age.
Even more amazing are the personal qualities of domestic developers. They are capable of undertaking a dozen attempts at solving the problem and remain at the same time at the peak of their working shape, while people of other professions often burn out after the third or fourth attempt.
The main features of many Ukrainian programmers are persistence, inner strength and the highest level of IQ. They dream of changing the world, developing professionally, but often lose sight of the fact that for professional success and effective work the team needs not only hard, but also the soft skills.
PLACE FOR FEAR
Only 15% of success in professional activities depend on hard skills. The remaining 85% come from soft skills that depend on the level of emotional intelligence. These are the data from the research on the behavior of IT professionals, which were at various times conducted at the Harvard University, the Stanford Research Center and the Carnegie Foundation.
It is exactly the soft skills that truly are the vulnerable spot of many developers. This is not surprising given their young age. No matter how stunningly an 18-year-old man would compose the code, no matter how much profit he would bring to the company, he might lack the elementary skills of communication, relationships, linguistic models, in other words, emotional maturity. The executives and owners of the companies are not always well versed in this toolkit.
If the relationship of the boss and the developer is far from ideal, often it becomes being dominated by fear, a complex and unconscious emotion that is difficult to recognize. What do programmers and their executives fear?
THE TOP MANAGER IS AFRAID, THE DEVELOPER IS AFRAID TOO
The main top manager’s fear is to lose the developer. In turn, the developer is afraid that the manager will underestimate or punish him, all the way to layoff. None of them confesses in their fear. Moreover, as I have already mentioned, it is usually not even realized. But both sides see the fear of their opponents perfectly.
Both the head and the developer are in their fears, like in the bubbles, and the game begins: `I`ll pretend I`m not afraid of you`. The top manager thinks: `You are a genius, but I`ll pretend you`re an ordinary guy. You are afraid, and then you will do what I say`. The programmer thinks: `I`m afraid of you, but I do not want to do anything. And if you`re afraid of me, then I`m a tough macho`.
In this situation, both sides are suffering. The director`s fear prevents him from establishing a working relationship with an employee, it does not allow him to inspire the developer and give him what they need.
The developer`s fear prevents him from being happy, and he unknowingly blocks work. In addition, he loses ability for adequately assessing himself and his opportunities, and this gives rise to inadequate arrogance. Managers often turn to me at a stage when the situation has already tightened to a limit, and developers openly show disrespectful attitude to them.
WORKING WITH THE TEAM
When the situation `fear each other but say nothing` reaches its climax, HR specialists are usually invited to solve it. All of them know the main rule of getting out of such conflicts, and they immediately voice it: `It is necessary to build relationship with mutual respect`. The question remains only how to do it. Knowledge in the field of emotional intelligence helps find ways that will significantly reduce the road to the goal.
One day, a manager told me: `I do not need such a developer, I will exchange him to another`. But this is not an option, because in reality the manager is interested in the employee staying with the company. The lack of emotional maturity is an objective reality for many developers. Nobody`s guilty that the industry is so young.
How to act in such a situation? There are several options:
- Wait until the young developer becomes emotionally mature, he will develop his linguistic models. True, there is not always the opportunity to wait for so long.
- To put communications of developers into the hands of the project manager. However, he will not be able to fill the skills of other employees and practice communications instead of them.
- Organize group trainings that raise the level of emotional intelligence. This is a path from Western companies: I was pleased to know that the Danish corporation, where I had run trainings two years ago, introduced EQ classes into a compulsory employee training program.
- Teach the developer effective communications, increase his emotional maturity during individual lessons, with the help of professional applications and other methods.
- In addition, it is important to adjust the attitude to employees in the company as a whole. One company year after year organized the New Year corporate party for its employees. But the more entertainment the executives came up with, the more discontent with the holiday grew in the team.
HAPPINESS OCCURS WHEN A PERSON OVERCOMES HIMSELF AND TURNS ON INTO THE PROCESS.
I suggested that the company management should include employees in the process of preparing a corporate party. The managers gave the task to everyone to take a short film for the holiday. As a result, everyone was preparing for the corporate get-together, they loved to watch films of others and worried, demonstrating their own. One efficiency recommendation gave the result versus three or four team-building exercises.
HOW TO WORK WITH FEAR
One can turn their fear from an invisible barrier into an assistant independently, without any help. The rules of working with fear are the same for everyone: both for the tops and for the developers.
My authoring method – the Open up technique – provides such an algorithm of working with fear.
- Recognize that the current situation does not suit you. This is the most difficult step, because many are used to being content with what is.
- Suspect fear. The presence of fear can be indicated by anger that usually acts as a defense. Do you remember the pug-dog that barked at the elephant? She was not angry, but she was afraid.
- Confess to fear if you find it. It will require a lot of courage. Ask yourself the question: `Am I afraid?` And answer it as honestly as possible.
- Find a source of fear. To do this, you need to consistently ask yourself the question of what kind of thought causes fear. The more honest the answer to this question is, the faster the changes will begin.
- Look at the parties in search of other solutions. When the manager realizes that he is afraid of the developer leaving, something is important: fear ceases to influence his decisions. This emotion ceases to bind, and provides access to other brain resources and options for solving the problem.
- Weigh up the ideas that have come up to your mind. If the developer is afraid that he will be punished or underestimated, and recognizes it, then he will have a choice to continue to be afraid or not. If a person is more interested in the result than his perception of himself, then he will be able to stop walking in circles.
- Try to apply the selected solution.
At first glance, this algorithm seems so simple that it cannot be effective, but it really works. The technique helps capture the emotion that hinders decision making. And then the fear from the barrier will turn into our helper.
I use this tool effectively in my work on a daily basis. I do not want it to be believed, or vice versa, questioned or criticized. I find it to be effective – and I propose to try it out for you. And I`m sure that the development of emotional intelligence in IT companies will help their employees to do their job better, faster, with higher quality and more successfully to compete with Western players. And it is precisely the emotional intelligence that allows developers to fully discover their potential.
by Valeria Kozlova, emotional intelligence mentor, founder of CORPORATE-EQ