Your company is full of disconnected stars...
When you have nobody you can make a cup of tea for, when nobody needs you, that's when I think life is over.
Modern businesses require collaboration. Unfortunately it can be challenging to include programmers — software developers and data scientists — in this collaboration because they often do not like to communicate.
A typical approach is forcing programmers to communicate through meetings and open floor plans. This is a mistake: most programmers need to concentrate for long periods of time, which is often described as "working on a maker's schedule". Forcing them to communicate for half an hour can waste half a day's worth of productivity:
When you are operating on a maker's schedule, meetings are a disaster.
Paul Graham, famous software developer
The opposite philosophy is to isolate programmers: minimize their communication so as to respect the maker's schedule. Unfortunately, it also prevents proper communication pathways from developing inside the organization, creating the infamous gap between what the business needs and what is being built. Programmers also dislike being isolated because it strips them of their negotiation power despite their skills being in high demand. Limited communication also denies programmers a sense of belonging, which is bad news for their job satisfaction and loyalty to the company alike.
Successful initiatives include company mixers and out-of-town corporate events. Those often do foster a sense of belonging, at least for the employees who are open-minded enough to participate, and should definitely be kept in place, to the degree it is possible in the COVID-19 world.
However, when it comes to daily routine, encouraging connections between employees may seem like an insurmountable task. Employees, and not just developers or data scientists, keep their guard up because opening up can and often does lead to loss of employment. As a result, many people, especially those working for big corporations, plainly feel lonely at work.
Introducing Social Nerd™ Connection
Our solution is a multi-week group training "course" that includes interactive group sessions, homework assignments, and much, much more. It is a fusion of techniques from executive coaching, yoga, Alexander Technique and other fields with the primary goal of making all participants into stronger communicators than they were before and the secondary goal of enabling greater information flow inside the organization long after the course is over.
We pay special attention to the differences between technical and non-technical participants as their communication challenges tend to be different:
- technical employees more often struggle to communicate technical issues as well as to understand or even obtain information about the business issues. They tend to work on the "maker's schedule", concentrating for long periods of time, and a quick shift to or from the "social mode" can be challenging;
- non-technical employees more often struggle to communicate business issues as well as to understand or even obtain information about the technical issues. They tend to tolerate interruptions in their work, but have low tolerance for complexity. They can misunderstand or ignore important, even mission-critical information, unless it is presented in an easily digestible, "explain-it-to-your-grandma" way.
We believe our training will add great value to all participants. However, it should be optional. Learning social skills is hard as it is, and without active, willing participation, no results can be expected. The last thing we want is to be another mandatory activity. Furthermore, participants should feel free to quit at any time if they feel they are not deriving any value from it. We will refund the fee for any participant who quits during the first week. And while we cannot guarantee any particular result or outcome, if the company is not satisfied with the results, we also offer a full 100% refund of the training fee any time before the last group session.
If, for any reason, you don't like our training, you can receive a full refund of the training fee so long as it is done before the last group training session.
If an individual participant decides to quit before the end of the first week, the fee for that participant will be fully refunded as well.
Stages of the Social Nerd™ Connection course
First half: Build a foundation
No change is possible without a foundation of trust. In order to build trust, people in the company, particularly technical and nontechnical stakeholders, have to communicate with each other. For that they have to know how to communicate and have an opportunity to engage in this communication.
Second half: Help develop social skills
It is cruical to create change that will persist after the Social Nerd™ Connection course is over.
In order to create lasting change, participants will have to learn to initiate communication.
They will also have to learn to find time for this communication, being mindful of the "maker's schedule", i.e. respecting periods of deep thinking that data scientists and developers must engage in.
After it's over: Stay open
As a company, you have to be prepared to handle the change the comes from increased communication. Tensions that have been suppressed for months or years can come out because of a seemingly innocent exercise. We can open communication pathways,gradually making the culture more open, productive, and meritocratic, but be warned that you may have to deal with conflicts and make difficult decisions in the time following our training.
If you are still reading, our training may be right for your team or organization.
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