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Challenge Status Quo – getting to know your colleagues

In December last year I had the fortune to become part of a development team. The last few years my position haven’t “allowed me” to work in a team set-up, that a scrum team embodies. I came to realize how much I’ve missed it! The social aspect and the support that a team really creates became obvious to me.  

One ceremony, that this team has, is as a daily standup. But it wasn’t just about the standard prescribed questions “What have I done”, “What will I do” and “Are there any impediments?”. They also included two more questions which were new to me – “What is your energy level (1-10)?” and “Today’s Questions”.  

  • The energy question makes you aware of each other's “status” and has at least allowed me to give and receive support when needed. Also, in a group (at least in this one) there is always someone that is super pepped and high on energy, expressing that will rub off on the team.  
  • Today´s question takes you behind the professional facade. They are personal, but at least to Swedish standard not that offensive; What is the best movie, book, or super villain? What is your favorite thing on the Christmas table? What was your favorite subject in school? What podcast would you recommend? Do you believe Trump will win the coming election? 

As I see it, these two additional questions allowed the group of people to speed up the process of getting to know each other by lowering the social barriers. Besides the common laughter, these additional questions allowed us to come even closer to each other in a structured way – creating a social capital which built trust between us members, lowered the communication barriers and built a buffer needed during potential tough discussion. Taking it from a ROI perspective – it speeds up the group dynamic process of moving quicker to a stable and more productive state. 

The most Swedish thing that we find at the workplace is the Fika, which is nothing more than a structured way of getting to know each other over a cup of coffee or tea (and an occasional cookie).  

When writing this I realize that I’m quite bad at doing Fika. My coffee is most often sipped on at my desk in front of the laptop. It’s time to change - to challenge status quo! In this case by taking a small, yet important conscious step.  

Taking a Fika with your colleagues is just one way to build your social capital, and it might not fit your context. The important thing is to find structured ways to build your social capital within your team, group, or company. Be creative!