Trust and respect are essential ingredients in any healthy working environment. When trust and respect are present, team members feel safe to give their best, collaborate openly, and challenge one another constructively.
When trust and respect are absent, team members feel insecure about their performance, withhold ideas for fear of judgement or worry about repercussions if they speak up.
There is an inherent risk in bringing together people from different backgrounds with different skill sets. And in the context of DevOps, you're also putting together people who likely have very different roles within your organization as well. The potential for discord is high.
So how do you create a culture of trust and respect when working with so many new and different people? Here's why you need to build a culture of trust and respect in your DevOps initiative.
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It's the Foundation for Good Communication
Communication is the foundation for everything in DevOps. You have to be able to openly share what's working, what isn't, and why without judgement, without fear of repercussions, and without ego getting in the way.
What happens when, in a meeting, someone says they aren't getting the information they need from a team member? Or that they feel rushed to get their job done? Or that they aren't seeing the value in the continuous integration process?
Without a culture of trust and respect, communication will be strained. Team members will be hesitant to speak up, and afraid of judgement. They'll feel anxious like they don't have permission to be honest with the team.
And if they don't feel safe speaking up, the communication breaks down, and the DevOps initiative will suffer as a result.
It Builds Confidence for Everyone
One of the biggest challenges in DevOps is building trust between different people, and different parts of the organization. But if you lack the confidence to speak up, you'll never be able to build that trust missing out on the opportunity to learn from your colleagues and grow yourself as a result.
In a culture where trust and respect are absent, people are less likely to share their ideas, and more likely to either shut down and not try at all, speak up in ways that create discord, and don't encourage others to respond.
You need to feel confident to share your ideas, challenge others, and learn from both your successes and your mistakes. Without trust and respect, you won't feel confident enough to do any of these things, and again, the DevOps initiative will suffer as a result.
It Creates a Safe Environment For Learning
A healthy DevOps culture needs to create a safe environment for learning. This means not only being transparent about what's working and what isn't, but also being open to feedback without fear of judgement.
This is the best way to identify pain points and areas where improvement is needed. When team members feel safe to share their feedback, they can do so in a way that doesn't create any sense of judgement, but rather, encourages the team to look at the information objectively and decide how to act on it.
But when a team is operating in a culture where trust and respect aren't present, this kind of feedback is very tricky to navigate. Because team members are likely to feel anxious about sharing their true feelings and experiences, and will likely speak up in ways that are designed to minimise judgement. This can lead to misunderstood feedback, and squashing the open and objective dialogue that is needed for improvement.
DevOps is About People and Culture
All of the above leads us to one important conclusion: building a healthy DevOps culture is about people and trust. Building trust and respect is never a one-time thing, and it requires a sustained effort from all members of the team, regardless of their backgrounds.
When you see a team member struggling to find their footing, or growing frustrated at their role, you have to be willing to lend a helping hand. And to do this, you must first be aware of your own behaviour and how you're modelling the behaviour you want to see.
You must be willing to confront your own behaviours that are likely to be creating a culture that is lacking in trust and respect. And you must be willing to take ownership of your own feelings and be open about how they are impacting your work and the team as a whole.
DevOps is all about collaboration, communication and cooperation. When everyone on the team trusts and respects each other, they are much more likely to collaborate effectively. This can only happen when everyone feels safe to give their opinion and be open about their needs. Building a culture of trust and respect will take time and effort. However, it is well worth the effort as it will lead to better communication, a healthier team, and ultimately better results for your organization.