I have just finished the book ‘Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager’ by Michael Lopp and I would like to recap the idea behind the 2 identified types of ploblem solvers on a development team. These are their characteristics:
- Incrementalist: They are driven by constantly making small forward increments. They are aware of available resources and the landscape in which they operate at any time. Since they know that there is no final solution, they are good brainstormers to come up with quick solutions. They love discussions and drive progress.
- Completionist: They need time to figure out the plan to analyse and solve a problem before they start moving in a direction. They apply a strategic vision to integrate their solution into the greater picture. If a Completionist is quiet, is does not mean he has nothing to say. It is just unlikely for him to talk about something without a fully formed plan. After having thought all through, the Completionist knows exactly what to do. It is the architect type of guy striving for a perfect longtime solution.
In the end both types like to get stuff done. The difference is just how they get there and that is exactly the point around which both regularly argue with one another.
If you think about your team and who shows tendencies towards one of the two types, how can this insight make your team communication and problem solving habits more effective? As a team lead you definitely need both types and it is your responsibility to engage both in a healthy discussion.
I am a fan of good receipes and checklists and just discovered the podcast “The Managing Software Development (MSD) Show” by James Edgell, which I highly recommend for all folks being responsible for IT-people and in the end for what they produce.
The value of your software development resources (people) consists of two things: their technical knowledge and their behaviour. The first can be developed by training and gained experience, the second is harder to change. And since everything is about bahaviour in people management, we also focus on it in terms of performance measurement.
James recommends the following:
- Identify important abstract behaviours (see following list).
- Measure the performance of every desired behaviour for each of your directs at regularly scheduled checkpoints. Scoring is from 1-5, where 1 is least demonstrated and 5 is most demonstrated. Add score corrections for plusses and minusses that are not covered by the behaviours in the list, e.g. for a rare talent or special industry knowledge no one else has.
- Set annual goals to improve on some of them. Goals should be ‘smart’ (s=specific, m=measurable, a=attainable, t=timebound).
- Sum up the scores and order them by score. You now have a handy helper to make decisions regarding: bonus payment, promotion, layoffs.
Divide the list in 4 sections from top to bottom:
- 10% – your excellent people.
- 20% – exceed expectations.
- 60% – meet expectations.
- 10% – need to improve.
Here are the behaviours:
- Strategic planning: Consideration of future needs, vision of the future.
- Maintained industry awareness: Latest trends, not only technical, understands customer business, evolution and lifecycles.
- Innovation: Brings in new ideas, continuous brainstorming, brings vitality to the organization.
- Builds and sustains relationships: Inside the team, the department, also builds those relationships actively outside the department and organization.
- Communicates effectively: Oral, written documentation and email, accurate to-the-point information or distraction.
- Leads and develops a team: Gets things done and drives the team, also motivates to do unpopular tasks.
- Enthusiasm: Does his things with high energy and enthusiasm.
- Assertiveness: Challenges the organization and the team to get the best possible outcome, does not settle with what is already there.
- Decisiveness: Stands by team decisions, solves conflicts quickly, does not undermine made decisions once they have been made.
- Clear and focussed thinking: Concentrates on what is relevant to make progress working on issues, is result oriented.
- Planning and organizing: How efective they organize their tasks and the team’s tasks.
- Productivity: Are they always on time, do they produce work of good quality, are they busy to get things done effectively.
- Customer focus: Mentality towards the customer.
- Integrity: Honesty, ethical thinking, are they trying to do the right things.
Thanks James, please give us more of that!