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.

Post a Comment

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!

Chief Collaboration Officer

When you search for the word “collaboration” on the Internet, the top hits are mostly software packages you can buy.  Software can facilitate collaboration, but it doesn’t make people collaborate on its own.

One of the key functions of a technical leader is to bring a team together, help people share ideas, and facilitate team members helping each other.  When a software leader overlooks this key function, you end up with a group of individual contributing engineers instead of a cohesive team.
Before we get into tactics, we should ask “Why is collaboration important for an engineering team?” 
It’s critical to examine your assumptions, so here are my reasons for why a group of engineers working on their own are worse than a team working together: Smart people learn from each other.Getting your plans and designs reviewed by other people allows you to leverage their experience and check your assumptions.Collaboration produces artifacts that stay after collaboration has taken place (such…

Hire Fast, Fire Fast? Not so Fast.

Silicon Valley is full of advice and it frequently comes from people who have little experience on the subject matter.  A popular topic surrounds hiring and terminations with the king catch phrase being: “Hire Fast, Fire Fast.”  To me, what that usually means is lack of diligence, thought, communication and courage.

When hiring people love going with their gut feel, often with disastrous results.  There is an obvious subject of diversity of thought, appearance and background.  When thinking “fast” you are probably hiring people like yourself because humans quickly react to people who they believe are in their tribe.

A startup that lacks the resources of a big company often becomes so desperate to get technical staff that when a decent candidate comes along, excitement ensues and the employer doesn't slow down to put them through a more rigorous hiring process.

I highly encourage technical founders and engineering executives to write out their precise hiring process.  Of course, y…