Skip to main content

Emotional Intelligence in Software Teams

I generally get questions about API design, platform marketing and software management, but recently
I was asked something a bit different: “Which emotional intelligence traits do you value in your co-workers?” Good question!

In order to explain my perspective, I should first clarify the type of office environment I value. I work because I want to be in an exciting space; I want to be the best at what I'm doing, and run a team that’s committed to success. For these criteria to align, I need to work at a company that employs smart people with high intelligence quotients (IQs) in their respective areas of expertise.

However, even on software teams equipped with high IQs, having even one member with a low emotional intelligence quotient (EQ) can interfere with the entire team's ability to achieve project goals. Here are the top EQ traits I value on my teams:

1. Control your emotions. Nothing gets in the way of productivity more than someone “losing it” by getting overly caught up in their emotional reactions to a situation. If someone throws a chair across the office, the physical mess is a lot easier to clean up than the emotional one. What will frustrate me more than the act itself is if the entire company starts talking about it for a week, then my co-workers shift their focus off the projects that can further our shared goals.

2. Understand the perspectives of others. In sales, you need to empathize with your buyer if you want to turn them into a champion. In customer support, you need to understand that complaining customers are frustrated because they are experiencing difficulty using your product. In a meeting, you need to appreciate the variety of differing opinions and backgrounds of your colleagues in the room. Embracing these perspectives with openness and curiosity allows a team to collaborate creatively and uncover potential opportunities.

3. Be positive. Nothing was ever created by people who said "No" to work. "No" is a sure way to get nothing done. A “can-do” attitude enables people to explore and invent. It also comes in handy as a reminder to keep going when the going gets tough. Colleagues with this outlook exude positive energy that spreads to other team members and unites everyone around the excitement and attainability of the goal. This approach attracts positivity from others both within and outside of the company.

4. Share. Successful companies know how to share. Leaders who know how to “grow the pie” are the ones who attract and retain the best talent. Growing opportunity and sharing it is a way to build a bigger team with more talented people. A bigger team with more talent wins.

Screening for these EQ traits in an interview can be challenging, but it’s very much worth it! Surrounding yourself with people who have high EQs will make for a better journey and a better destination.


Popular posts from this blog

SDET / QA Engineer Interview Checklist

After interviewing and hiring hundreds of engineers over the past 12+  years I have come up with a few checklists.  I wanted to share one of those with you so you could conduct comprehensive interviews of QA Engineers for your team. I use this checklist when I review incoming resumes and during the interview.  It keeps me from missing areas that ensure a good team and technology fit.  I hope you make good use of them.  If you think there are good questions or topics that I have missed - get in touch with me! SDE/T or QA Engineer interview checklist from Mike Borozdin If you like this checklist you might want to check out these posts: Emotional Intelligence in Software Teams   and  Good-bye manual tester, hello crowdsourcing!

Code versus Configuration

At Ethos we are building a distributed mortgage origination system and in mortgage there is a lot of different user types with processes that vary depending on geography.  One of our ongoing discussions is about how much of the logic resides in code vs. being in a workflow system or configuration.  After researching this topic for a bit, I have arrived at a conclusion that the logic should live outside of code very infrequently, which might come as a surprise to a lot of enterprise software engineers. Costs of configuration files and workflow engines First thing that I assume is true is that having any logic outside of the code has costs associated with it.  Debugging highly configurable system involves not only getting the appropriate branch from source control, you also need to make sure that the right configuration values or the database.  In most cases this is harder for programmers to deal with.  In many FinTech companies where the production data is not made readily acce

Intuitive Programming - Comments

Comments are a topic of vibrant discussion.  Ever since programmers could leave some text in the program that was ignored by the machine the debate started: “what’s a good comment, what’s a bad comment, why comment?” There are endless instructions to programmers that say many of the following things: 1) Describe your function! 2) Don’t write in the comment what you wrote in the code. 3) Tell people why you are doing what you are doing. What I think has been missing from this discourse is the audience for comments and through those audiences there is intent.  The code is being read, skimmed or analyzed by people and tools.  So what are the audiences and reading modes? 1) Maintaining and enhancing the code 2) Skimming through the entire module or file to figure out what the overall structure is 3) Reviewing the test files to check out the test coverage and edge cases 4) Seeing the docstrings of functions while being in a separate file altogether 5) Reviewi