Sohan's Blog

Things I'm Learning


Manager’s Mind

As managers, we have the benefit of view because we have our eyes on longer term goals. To achieve those goals, we often have to introduce a change. For example, we may want to change how a team is formed or what product a team works on based on new business needs or opportunities. So, we put a lot of thought into it and propose our plan to the team hoping the following reaction:

$(team).on("change", excitement)

Before proposing such a change, we’ve analyzed various options, including the option of keeping everything as-is. We’re fully convinced that indeed the change we’re going to propose is the best option. We are excited with this new way that’ll make our teams more productive. As caring managers, we are thrilled because we believe this will make the team happier.

Team’s Mind

However, most of the team’s reaction is as follows:

$(team).on("change", panic)

Honestly, the team has a great chemistry going on, they have fun and work well together, they are already so productive shipping products using technology they use today. So, at best a change seems random, but more commonly perceived as a mindless act of “management BS”.

The Deadlock

At this stage, both the manager and the team are in a deadlock, each party fairly confident in their judgement, failing to appreciate the concerns of the other. At this point, it’s the manager’s job to not only break the deadlock but also to make sure s/he carefully listens to the team and motivates them. Ideally, we can data-drive these conversations while being mindful of individual emotions.

The Checklist

Here’s a checklist I’m following myself as a manager as I’m trying to orient my teams from technology driven teams to more full-stack product mission oriented teams:

  1. Motivate the team with a why. e.g. Go from tech-oriented teams to product mission teams so that all of you can deliver products to customers…
  2. Listen to the team. Multiple one on one sessions if needed. e.g. Let’s discuss about your concerns regarding tech debt with this change…
  3. Discuss changes to your plan based on the team’s feedback. e.g. You’ll have full ownership of the technology to serve your mission…
  4. Layout your evidence. e.g. We built an improved search feature that we couldn’t ship to customers for months because the UI team was busy…
  5. Discuss pros and cons of alternatives you thought about. e.g. Another option is to keep as-is, but that’d mean we must improve cross-team project management to reduce hand-off related delays…
  6. Present your metrics to achieve. e.g. Time from dev to customer, performance metrics,…
  7. Present an iterative and incremental plan with the option to change course based on metrics. e.g. Let’s do this with one team for one month…