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I need to coach a new team. Team consists of very senior and junior members. Senior says juniors have attitude problem and Junior says the senior doesn’t share functional knowledge.

My observation says there's clearly a lack of trust among members.

How can i solve this?

Thanks

  • Do you have any insight on whether the senior (or especially the junior) devs' feedback is correct? If there is an important skills gap, the seniors might not want to cooperate. – nomen Aug 2 at 21:40
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    I don’t think there is any skill gap . It seems there is lack of true and collaboration. – shailesh Aug 3 at 4:29
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This may seem pedantic, but you don't solve this. They can solve it, but you can't make them.

There are two approaches that come to mind on working through this:

  1. actual conflict mediation
  2. team building

Conflict Mediation

There are books and certifications on this - far more than fits in a Stack Exchange answer, but a starting point is to talk to them individually about what has happened, what they would like to see as an end result, and potentially ask them things like "why do you think the other person is doing what they are doing?" or "If you were in their situation, what might cause you to take similar actions?" to create some empathy.

After some one-on-one conversations you can ask if they are up for some group conversations. There is a nice technique you might find helpful called non-violent communication.

The risk with a conflict mediation approach is that if you overstep you can become part of the problem and enflame the conflict.

Team Building

A potentially safer, though far less direct approach, is to focus on team building. Exercises like identifying team values and working agreements can help create new shared positive experiences in the team that start to supplant the old negative ones. They can also allow the team to plant some working agreement items that take the edge off the problem. For example, the team might agree in their working agreement that anytime there is a task that only the senior person knows how to do, they will pair with a junior developer and the junior developer will do the work with the senior one mentoring.

This is more indirect and will not overcome severe personality conflicts, but can be very helpful if the conflict is normal team-forming stuff.

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This answer is inspired in the work of Tom Graves understanding perspectives and resolving conflicts in enterprise architecture.

Things work better when we work together, on a purpose. If you don't act upon this, things will tend to follow the same consistent pattern.

You've done great so far by exposing the assumptions each side have. That's the initial part and it shows there's good communication, with trust, between you and them.

Now to make sense of their perspectives you have to go back to basics and question the assumptions their holding. Some of the questions you can ask:

. What's the point?

. What's the purpose?

. What are we striving for?

  • Thanks for your reply . Just wondering how can we build trust among them ? Any guidance on this ? – shailesh Aug 2 at 15:50
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    Keep the open communication and leading by example, showing that you trust them. In addition to that, you can consider team building activities that allow them to get to know each other (go lunch together) and discuss with them, anonymously (without blaming), the POVs / assumptions you have at hands. For this last point you can, for instances, introduce the questions I've mentioned at the end, give each other a post-it and let them write the answers (including you) and read out loud. I've seen this last technique used by an agile coach during sprint retrospective when i worked with EDP. – Tiago Martins Peres Aug 3 at 8:01
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    Two other activities used during sprint retrospective i think are worth mention: 1) divide the team in two groups and have them draw how they see what happened; 2) give them all 10 post-its and have them write things they liked and things they didn't like / problems. The answers will be placed in a white board and one reads out-loud at the end. Three of the problems will be acted upon and the problems will be selected with votes. – Tiago Martins Peres Aug 3 at 8:09
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You solve it by not solving it. Dev team has to understand and solve this by themselves. You should just mediate and facilitate. Maybe sit down with the team and ask them for specific examples. Ask them, if they have to fix it, how will they do it. Let them figure out the plan.

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Create Learning and Development Training on Leadership Skills or else Smiles can solve it too.

It's a very common to have conflicts in any teams
To manage these conflicts 
some steps are required
  • Facilitate them to hear from both of them
  • Leadership approach must meet less time to solve it.
  • Make Low Level Hierarchy to realize to follow the chain of command and instructions
  • Sharing is caring
  • Appreciate their works and smile, give thumps up
  • Finaly have a good tea break with smiles

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