Currently I'm in my dream job in a research lab as the only developer in a multidisciplinary team. I'm getting a little bit worried because I'm forgetting about coding in a team (I don't have legacy code, I maintain my own code, I handle my own agenda, etc). Although I try to follow some of the the best practices like continuous delivery, TDD, and SCRUM just for me I think I'm losing my ability to work in a team of developers.

I've joined an open source project and began into the code katas and code golf. But these won't polish my team player profile.

What would be your suggestions to sharpen my team player skills?

Update: Yes, my communications skills are now better and I can talk to PhD's like never before. Like @Nicholas and @Erick said, someday I will be facing a developing team (maybe in my current job, maybe not) and I want to keep current with those practices that makes a good developer a better team member, like pair programming or code review.

  • How does joining the OSS-Projekt not work for improving your 'team skills'? IMHO, beeing in a distributed team (i assume) is the hardest test for team play.
    – keppla
    Commented Sep 1, 2011 at 14:39
  • @keppla: I think he means it won't burnish his CV. Commented Sep 1, 2011 at 14:42
  • 1
    then i would suggest a title change to 'how to i faciliate the impression i worked with teams' :), because, well, when you didn't work int teams you didn't work in teams.
    – keppla
    Commented Sep 1, 2011 at 15:04
  • Yes! @Robert, that's exactly what I mean Commented Sep 1, 2011 at 18:11
  • @keppla, some team skills are better when performed together physically such as peer review, pair programming, project meetings etc. Being in a disributed team brings in a whole different set of dynamics to deal with.
    – tehnyit
    Commented Sep 1, 2011 at 22:46

6 Answers 6


It is a lot easier for a lone wolf to get accustomed to a new pack than it is to take any other wolf out of the pack and expect it to survive.

The Lone Wolf is already tough as nails and proved it by surviving with no support. Not everybody is cut out to be a Lone Wolf.

The biggest problems a Lone Wolf faces while adjusting to a new pack are small in comparison.

I would look at the resume of somebody who survived on their own for an extended period of time as a plus.

  • 1
    I could not agree more. well put!
    – fpmurphy
    Commented Sep 1, 2011 at 16:37
  • 7
    Disagree 100%. Developing in a team is much more difficult than doing it alone. A "lone wolf" is far, far less likely to be able to integrate into a team than a team developer to be able to work alone. Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 8:32
  • Someone needs a tshirt. Something with wolves on it methinks...
    – SHug
    Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 10:10
  • 1
    Don't mix Lone Wolfs with Cave Bears. Lone ones or in packs, they are always worse than Wolfs.
    – user7071
    Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 13:44
  • disagree. How can you prove you did anything agile at all?
    – bharal
    Commented Mar 9, 2013 at 20:31

On the flip side, your solo-developer skills are getting sharper every day.

You say this is your dream job. If you aren't looking to move to a different job, why worry about the skills that less-optimal jobs require?

You can't have all of your skills maximized at the same time. Throw yourself fully into the problems you face in your current job, and gain some new skills. If the time comes when you need to work on a team again, you'll adjust quickly, having done it before.

  • 5
    Dream jobs aren't always dream jobs forever, they can either go sour and make you hate it or the company can tank. Keeping your skills fresh is always a good thing. Commented Sep 1, 2011 at 16:10
  • 2
    I agree. If you're geting training as a sniper, don't bemoan your lack of training as a sqad leader. Just learn to be the best sniper out there. One thing at a time, focus, etc. Commented Sep 1, 2011 at 16:23
  • @NicholasSmith I would agree with your comment if it weren't for the 'always a good thing.' Keeping skills fresh is a usually good thing, when it can be reasonably accomplished. Other times it's an unnecessary burden. I think this is one of the latter cases, even though the day will likely come when the a different job is necessary. Commented Sep 1, 2011 at 16:33
  • 1
    @Nicholoas Smith, Ain't it the truth though? All of my favorite jobs were at companies that financially collapsed.
    – maple_shaft
    Commented Sep 2, 2011 at 10:46

I noticed that the times I most lost of my team player skills is working in a dysfunctional team where I am forced to deal with bad cases of Dunning-Kruger. I discovered that with time I have less and less tolerance for people who think they've learned enough or that do not like their jobs. Though with the latter I can sympathise so long as they do not become a nuisance for my own work.

When working alone for long periods of time I do long for a good team to interact with but I cannot say I am loosing team player skill. On the other hand better die alone than having to stand these pointy hair bosses one more day !

ok, now, enough ranting, back to work, pointy hair boss is coming around the corner !


Is it possible to have other developers in the team work with you on projects so that you would work with other developers some of the time? That would appear to be a better solution as what you may want is the occasional time spent working with other developers. At the same time, don't forget that you are in a multidisciplinary team which means some of your team playing skills are getting a work out as everyone else has their specialty and may require adjustments to communicate well to them.


Pick an area of technology or development methodology and see if you can bring in a consutant for a day or two. What this will demonstrate:

  1. You can identify what you don't know.
  2. You're able to find and evaluate talent. Not that you want to be a manager, but it's good to know you could help add to a team and/or identify strengths and weaknesses of other members.
  3. Ability to coordiate a project and work with others.
  4. Identify what is important.
  5. Find improved ways to get things done.

This could be anything that can be done in a day or two or whatever amount your group can afford. This can double-up as training and consulting. It's a good way to stretch your skills and have some time with someone in your area.

I had our company bring in a database performance expert. Since he had a lot of pre-built tools, I was able to ask questions while they ran. Made sure a free lunch was brought in while I picked his brain for an hour.

There are many ways to work with a team.


As I understand from your question your job doesn't need you to work in a team. If and when such circumstance arises and someone joins you, you will automatically start to share, help or associate with the other person because you want to get the job right. Adjusting to circumstances is human nature and most scenarios should happen painlessly.

IMO you are thinking too much about a "what if" situation when you don't need to. The job you are in is your dream job, enjoy it while you can. Thats my 2 cents.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.