Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Best Thing You Can Do For Your Team

One of the most important things I've learned over the course of my career is how important it is to ensure your teams have the information they need to succeed. In my opinion, effective team management is not about how well you direct your staff. It is much more about how effective you are in your ability to provide all relevant information and support for your team to succeed themselves.

We're lucky that so many Agile techniques aid us with this approach. Story board walls, burn up charts, build monitors, retrospectives - all aim to arm your team with information they need to self-direct towards success. However, project leaders must also embrace this concept themselves to find all information needed as well as the best way to radiate it. Different projects may also have unique definitions of success that project leaders should be careful to examine.

Good managers find a way to radiate all relevant information that your team needs to succeed. The closer this information is to real-time, the better.

Somehow, we've grown to expect that it is often management's job to fix problems. However, often the right thing to do is to simply let your team know about the problem so they can fix it themselves with management's full trust and support.

I've seen good data and metrics go to waste in a report being generated solely for upper management and stakeholders, never to be seen by the team themselves. Here are several issues that could happen as a result of this approach:
  1. Management doesn't read or ignores the report
  2. Management directs the team to start doing X, leaving the team in the dark on why they should be doing X
  3. Management implements patch fixes, which don't fix the root cause
  4. Management comes up with suboptimal solutions since they aren't the ones doing the work
Every member of your team is a professional. As professionals, they should be given real-time information that allows them to see when they are failing. As professionals, they should be given real-time information when they are succeeding. As professionals, they should be given real-time information that allows them to self-direct themselves towards success.