Written by
Sylwester Niemiec

Sylwester Niemiec

Know yourself. How to be a better teammate.

Every person is unique. Some of our traits are gained from genetics, some are ingrained in us by Environment during upbringing. Our whole life makes every one of us completely different…

In a place of work, people doing the same job are still only slightly similar in their knowledge and capabilities. Some of our behaviours are conscious and some are just habits that we don’t think about. I would like to focus on those quirks and habits that are not so conscious. It’s a part of what makes us who we are and as one great general stated:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

At work, we can consider all challenges as our enemies, but to best increase our chance of coping with them it’s always better to know more about ourselves. I think that most of you have seen and possibly done some personality tests. Part of what they test is those unconscious reactions and behaviours. Ok, so assuming we learn something from such tests, we still might not agree with what they tell us. We might be thinking “No, I’m sure I’m more empathic”, “I’m not a perfectionist, the test must be wrong”. Sometimes you might be right, but how to check. There is no sure fire way, but it’s always good to ask for non-biased opinion of colleagues (you should have some). Learning about our unconscious behaviour will help in using it to our advantage. As an example, when I was doing such a test, I found out that I’m a kind of “collector”. This means that I like collecting things, starting from games, which can be a disadvantage when you try to save money. Looking at this from work perspective, I was collecting different “resources” – knowledge. It doesn’t always have to be like encyclopaedic knowledge, but it might be some tips & tricks about using a specific tool or domain knowledge, business cases, etc. Why was this important for me? Let me tell you a story.

I was teaching a junior about Test automation using an example of one of our applications. Asked a question, I started explaining and slowly getting into more complex details. Thinking in hindsight, this was a mistake on my part, as I gave too much knowledge to someone and caused confusion instead of clarifying. Learning from that experience and noticing my habit, I started mentioning at the beginning of my explanations: “If I go into too much detail, just tell me to stop” and you know what? It helped.

Another story, the same trait. I noticed that as I was gathering information, it wasn’t organized and also it was hard to share it with each person 1-1. I decided to keep notes from what I learn in One Note and share such notebook with my teammates. I kept some technical information, specific SQL queries (with description) and other similar things. I believe it helped as I started receiving less questions from team related to this.

I would like to encourage everyone to learn about yourselves and use your habit to your teams’ advantage.

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