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Office is not a place to be anonymous

2 min min read - December 1, 2014

I don't mean Anonymous as organisation or movement, but anonymous as a state. After years spent in small teams I can appreciate value of close contact with everyone in the team. Knowing each other’s weak and strong sides benefits in great dual understanding (some small teams can't achieve that, because other reasons - for instance replacing discussion with announcement).

In big organisations we don't have benefit of knowing everyone. Anyhow too often it becomes excuse to become just another anonymous gear in the machine. Because of that companies spend quite significant money on internal communication platforms like Podio or Yammer. Still it doesn't replace face-to-face communication.

I would like to show you how much lies in manager competition to not waste good efforts in your team and not change them to bunch of anonymous people. You work in big open space. Teams doing similar job, all under one busy like hell manager, take 1/3 of the floor. What should you do?

  • Don't even think about all-at-once introduction. No one will remember names. Send some nice email across, so others are aware of new person.
  • Create short, but clear list of people new person supervise, report to and work directly with. Great, if you company has a skill wall or other way to map area of interest with specific person.
  • Introduce new person to his direct supervisor and all members of his own team.
  • On day one introduce new team member to all people sitting next to his desk. Not doing that shows HUGE disrespect to those people.
  • Once you introduce person to member of other team, especially leader, ask him to introduce his team. Short handshake means a lot, and you don't have to recollect all names.
  • Even, if you have broadcast platform (chat, mail group, irc) encourage people to sit together and discuss things face to face (teach them to do appointments and discus in meeting rooms).
  • Keep regular discussion based meetings like stand ups and strategy planning. Make them meaningful and always keep agenda. It shouldn't be jibber-jabber without reason; it should have clear benefit for everyone.
  • Create environment that helps people to hang out together. Don't encourage them to do so by creating too many events on organisation level. That is always too strict. Give them time for out of project R&D, manage some gym memberships or rent football pitch, let them organise themselves. And more important - never punish people who are not willing to attend. As long they keep required communication and respect others in the team, they have right to organise their time.

Hope those notes helps.

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