We are at the time that software development is such a crucial part of the business that almost everyone is lost on the river of “feature delivery” in such a way that we even forget that we have to stop and pay attention how our teams are functioning and how is our team dynamics.
The feature requests are way more in number than we technically can achieve to address. Our user base is getting smarter and smarter every day as well as they get more tech savvy, so they know more and more what they want. This makes addressing their requests a daily challenge, but this is only one side of the story 😉
When developing software, one side of the story comes from the users and key account users, but the other side comes from the business management and the leadership. Quite often, the perspective of these two groups may not end up to be the same, leading to stressful situations.
One of my favorite “soft tools” for leading teams is having regular 1 on 1s. Even though sometimes they feel unnecessary and too obvious, I religiously follow the cycle and never miss them. But why?
The reason is, for me these 1 on 1s are just like thermometers for fever. They tell me how my teammates feel, as well as answer the questions like is anything bothering them, is there anything that can be improved? These kind of questions may sound very basic and too simple, but they are amazing to identify the small-to-grow problems at their infancy phase and address them before they grow to the scale that pushes employees to leave the company.
I’m in the IT industry for ~15 years now, and if I can name one universal rule that I could identify between all the people groups I have been working together with, it’s that people don’t tell that they will leave. They just get fed up and start looking for another opportunity before they start giving you open feedback that something is going WRONG. So, what can we as leaders/managers do to prevent the situation to come to this point. In my opinion, we should on a regular basis measure the “temperature” of the team. How is the team dynamics? How do the individuals feel? Has the performance had any variations recently? These are the questions that we need to ask ourselves regularly and be wary in any of the changes, as any change to the answers to these questions is an alarm in itself that we should address as soon as possible before it is too late.
The other VERY VERY IMPORTANT topic to discuss in these meetings is, what do the team mates want to learn and further advance their skills! Continuous learning is extremely important for performing teams and the leader has to make sure they understands who wants to learn what, so one can match the daily business priorities to the interests of the team members, so they can grow personally and professionally while solving the most crucial business challenges. We must create WIN/WIN situations for our colleagues so everyone feels happy and benefits from the daily work we do!
As the saying goes, “people leave managers and not jobs”, it is our ultimate responsibility to realize if a team member is unhappy and going to leave before they make their unhappiness official, because when they do, it’s already too late!