You are frustrated because in the last month, three engineers on your team did the wrong things on the most critical project: The first engineer completed his task, but only using an expensive third party software package. The second engineer had three critical tasks to do and only completed one, along with a lot of low importance features. And the third engineer completed the wrong task because she thought something else was more important. So, questions rattle around in your head:
- Don’t they all know there is a tight schedule?
- What about costs - don't they care?
- How can they spend so much time on non-critical tasks and not get the critical ones done?
- Why didn’t they let me know there were problems?
Rather than calling your team together to express your frustration, you decide to take a walk to think about what to do. You think back to how you gave your engineers their assignments…You caught them in hallway when you saw them getting coffee and you were running to a meeting. None of them had pencil or paper handy and you were in a hurry, so you didn’t have time to really talk about each task and they didn’t come back to ask for more information…
Hmm… Maybe the problem isn’t the team after all. Maybe the problem is my not properly delegating the tasks to the team.
Continue reading "Getting the Right Things Done Right" »
A recent experience reminded me of an older truth – when you are discussing the cost or delivery date of software with your customer:
The first number or date a customer hears is what they will remember.
It doesn’t matter that they pressed you for a rough guess;
It doesn’t matter that you stated assumptions that are wrong;
It doesn’t matter that you set context, conditions, or caveats;
That first number will stick with your customer and be the reference for any other number you provide them later. When you come back with the real estimate and the number is less favorable than your first guess (it almost always is), then you have a problem. Now you are giving the customer bad news, not refined information.
Continue reading "(Mis-) Setting Customer Expectations" »
Do you remember in your career when you felt exceptionally proud of a work project or effort? Your may have put in extra hours, come up with a great idea, or delivered a high quality product ahead of schedule. Remember when you were last thanked or congratulated for your efforts? If you felt the congratulations were sincere, it probably encouraged you in your next effort.
As a manager, when was the last time that you praised someone working for you for doing great work? Has anyone done really great work for you lately?
Many managers fall into the trap of accepting great work that is done without a comment and get in the habit only speaking up when somebody makes a mistake. This approach encourages cautious behavior instead of encouraging people to push for excellence.
Continue reading "Showing Appreciation for Great Work" »
Often times the new or early-career senior technology manager has never been formerly trained in how to approach decision making. This results in the new manager approaching a major component of his management style either with a "gut" sense or by adopting the behaviors of other admired managers. Regardless, a senior executive has a responsibility to up his game through the execution of an intentional decision-making framework.
Continue reading "Decisions, Decisions" »
Ouch that burns. The email in your inbox is making you hot and angry.
It is strongly worded…
It borders on insulting…
It is trying to force a point at you and…
Thirty people are copied on it.
Anyone who has worked in high tech for a while has received one – a flaming email. The writer is trying to forcefully push their point of view and solicit support from a broad array of managers and people with some stake in the issue. The arguments will assert the unreasonableness of your position. And, often the messages will be very long with many points.
Continue reading "Dealing with the Flaming Email" »