Of Coping

Recently, I was in Vietnam to give a week of developer training. The company over there is quite big, and they’ve got several development projects running at the same time.

To one of the teams, something very bad happened: their project was cancelled in mid-flight, without any warning, from one day to the next.

Now if such a thing happens in Germany (where I live and normally also work), people will be, umm, taken aback. Everyone in the team will need a way to express their frustration, sadness, and anger. There’s going to be a lot of a) ranting against the management, b) expressing disappointment, and c) with some people, a well-groomed attitude of told-you-so. Summed up: not a good time.

What the guys (and girls; there’s a lot more female devs than what I’m used to) in Vietnam did: they threw a Farewell party. In the evening of the very same day the news was broken to them, they went to a restaurant, invited us visitors, ordered lots of food and beer (on company cost), took photos, and had what you’d called a very good time. Of course the topic of the day kept creeping up, but when too much bitterness entered the room, there was always some-one to shoo it away – not the end of the world, new chances are going to come, over and forgotten.

I think there’s a lot to learn from that when you or your team suffers a loss:

  • Don’t let people leave alone; they’re the only ones who share this experience.
  • As a company, acknowledge the need to communicate and socialize, and pay for the beer. Even if they rant at you (they’re going to do that anyway).
  • If you’re in the losing team, don’t let it bring you down too much. The others can help you.

Christian is a software architect/developer. He lives in Germany, reads a lot, and likes cycling.

Posted in Team

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