The main takeaway from the 3 great IT managers I borrowed from, was the positive relationship they had with their teams as professional adults. They were aware that our participation in a project was largely based on our capability to be responsible and mature. Also, they were capable of doing the work themselves and not afraid to fire up a command-line, try stuff to help out. I even know of one that would check-out code to see where it could be improved and then make suggestions in regular meetings. Never did I hear: “is not my job” from any of them. Finally, they kept the teams small and efficient.
In my history, I have observed how some workplaces have been aimlessly adding resources to teams without properly identifying what skill gaps need to be filled. In addition, some large projects just add resources for the sake of adding and making teams look large. These actions are usually due to an AM (see Part 2) in the organization. It should be no secret that a successful team is built on the sum of all its members’ strengths. One might be great at designing, one great at drilling-down searching for a root cause, another at ensuring all things are covered. Lastly, the leader has to be able to fit in that team bringing the experiences of triumphs and failures (let’s not be afraid of the word) of past career episodes to create a proper path to follow and avoid pitfalls. Once you know where everyone fits and how to failover across them, you don’t need a large team. Plus, count yourself as a team member! Their responsibilities are your responsibilities and we are not in pre-school!…what!?
Affectionally, I have heard units on a project reflect on their experiences and say: “Well, I was mostly babysitting” or “I had to watch them all the time”. I must admit, looking back, that those teams were probably not well assembled and hence, not independently successful. You shouldn’t have to babysit. Getting along with trust and respect builds a consistent, positive team that delivers. In all honesty, I think my team babysits me! They know I can’t keep track of everything and they keep me informed constantly! Even last night I got a text that said: “Hey, I took care of that alert so don’t worry”. I guess I can now go back and play with my Lego blocks!
And this is how our team operates. We dismissed the prior, forced beliefs of our collective past, created our own, and realized that we can have fun doing what we are doing. Now, where did we leave our Duplos?