Team Reputation

Andy Warren, 2014-04-04

Today we have a guest editorial as Steve is traveling.

Ever thought about how your team is perceived by other teams or by other customers, internal or external? I think most of us focus on two things – the reputation of the company and our individual skills and experience – when we’re job seeking, and I think that makes sense. But is it enough? Does it make a difference how the team you’re joining is thought of?

When I arrived at my first assignment in the military years ago I was everything you’d expect – curious, excited, all the rest. Then I got to my platoon and found out that they (we) were restricted to the barracks. Why? They had been fighting. On the parade ground. At night. In their underwear. With each other! It took a while for that stain to wear off and until it did, no matter how good I was, I was only as good as the reputation of the team I was on.

Since then I’ve worked on a lot of teams. The best team I worked on was three of us, arguably each the best at what we did in our respective areas across a very large organization. We worked hard, we built relationships, and that translated into a lot of respect and lee way. I worked with a team for a while that was treated as overhead, with the goal of reducing that overhead still more – not fun. Most teams have had pretty good people, but many of them have struggled with the reputation part.

Reputation often stems more than you might expect from whoever leads the team. Yes, the team has to deliver, but the team tends to reflect the attitude and approach and values of the manager. If the manager has a good reputation then usually the team does.

There are often opportunities to be found on bad/failing teams, but it’s never as fun as joining a team that has a great reputation. It’s hard to assess during the interview, but worth a try. To some degree you can tell by the interview itself, the things they focus on and how they treat you, but it’s not the same as finding out how the rest of the world sees the team.

Does your team have a good reputation? How important do you think team reputation is to enjoying work? Got a good horror story about a bad team? Let’s continue this in the discussion forum.

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