DEV Community

Joel Varty
Joel Varty

Posted on

Learn to be a better leader and team member with pair-programming

Pair Programming is a great way to work together to solve a problem. You might think that having another person there will slow you down, or that it will be frustrating having to watch somebody else fumble around on the keyboard without knowing all your fancy shortcuts, but it’s worth it.

Idea #1

Pair programming is a chance to learn how to be a good team member

When you program with a partner, do you always have to be one “driving” the keyboard and mouse? Are you able to sit and watch someone else take the lead?

You should try this.

Even if you’re the faster coder, nary a moment when your hands come off the keyboard, super-fast clickity-clack mechanical keys, you should REALLY try sitting back and letting your brain do the talking instead of your fingers.

  • See how someone else processes a task.
  • Wait a little longer than normal to interrupt their flow.
  • Resist the urge to reach for the mouse.
  • Take notes on a piece of paper.

1 person working on a project is alone, 2 people make it a team. If you are a good team member, you’ll not only get twice as much work done, it should also be done with much higher quality.

When it’s your turn to drive, think about how much you’d really like your team-mate to resist grabbing your mouse or pointing at the monitor. Now you know what it feels like to have someone actually helping the team instead of trying to dominate the team.

At this point, it’s time to start thinking like a leader.

Idea #2

Pair programming is a chance to learn how to be a leader

In a team with two people, the moment you start to wonder about how the other person is feeling, you start to become a leader.

If you’ve noticed that your team-mate has a really hard time sitting there watching you type, and you are wondering how to help them with that, you’re a leader.

When you see your team-mate struggle with a coding problem, and you hesitate a moment before blurting out the “answer” to them, you’re a leader.

You see, on a team, a leader is anyone who is thinking about what other people need to be successful. They try to be sensitive to how team-mates are feeling, and often they aren’t necessarily the loudest people on the team.

As you are working with someone, think to yourself: what does this person need from me right now? That kind of empathy will help both of you be more productive in a pair programming situation.

Top comments (3)

pim profile image

Pair programming for the win! Can't speak highly enough of the benefits. The potential for a new perspective on a shared problem alone is reason to give it a try. In my team, we go a step further, and pair-everythibg from code to UI to font selection. There's something to be said about the primal reward of group work and the success/failures that follow.

joelvarty profile image
Joel Varty

I remember our coding sessions, Pim!


pim profile image

I'll never forget those! I owe you an infinite debt of gratitude for all you taught me and for putting up with me!