TOT 006:

How I Build Drama-Free Technology Teams in 8 Steps

John Barker
Aug 27, 2023
Read Time: 3 Minutes 30 seconds

Conflict on your technical team can be a nightmare to manage.  Productivity will slow down.  Distrust starts to brew.  One person doesn’t want to work with another person.  Team members won’t speak to each other. 

Step 1:  Make Tough Decisions Quickly
Uncertainty from leaders breeds drama on a team.  The quickest way to cause havoc is an inability to communicate a situation accurately. Point everyone in a direction quickly or they way will make their own path.

The rumor mill starts to spin up.  Rumors are a toxic black hole.  Eventually, everyone will get caught in it.

I find it helps to be as transparent as possible with your team.
Let your team know if a situation is brewing that you truly don’t have a solution yet.  Inform them of what you are waiting on and when you expect to know.  This will help clear the air.

 Step 2:  Everyone Knows Their Roles

Each team member needs to know exactly what job tasks they are ultimately responsible for.

As a manager, you cannot let poor performance continue for 6 months and then discipline them for not doing something they didn’t know.

Clearly outline the key tasks that need to be handled.  How they should be performed.  Assign due dates for completion.

In tech support-type roles this could be tickets closed per day, tickets acknowledged in a certain time period, etc.

 Step 3: Everyone Knows Their Performance Outcomes

Every member of your team needs a metric to gauge their own performance.  These should be publicly tracked.  An individual’s performance should not be a secret. 

 Step 4: Give Regular Feedback

People work under the assumption that no news is good news. You will be sorely disappointed if you haven’t defined the roles well and the performance metrics.  Behaviors will not change.

Continually work with your team to adjust processes to bring improvements.  Praise great work when appropriate.  Provide correction where work is falling behind.

Step 5: Seek Feedback

One of the best things I did with my teams asking them what I could do to help them out.  I learned areas of their jobs that were frustrating or causing repeated problems.  Then as a team would could develop a technical solution or a new process to ease those burdens.  This created high job satisfaction.

If there were things that were frustrating them that we couldn’t solve, I gave a clear explanation why.  Some things are out of your control.  Be clear why.  No one likes to hear ‘because I said so’.  Give a legitimate reason.

 Step 6:  Get out of the Way

It is impossible for you to do everything as a leader.  For you to work on the most important things you must trust your team to perform. You can take a step back if roles are defined, metrics are assigned, feedback is given, and monitoring is taking place.

No one wants someone breathing down their neck.

Give your team the latitude to make mistakes. 

Mistakes are how people learn and grow. 

Continually expand the decision-making ability of your team members as they prove they can handle the responsibilities.

Remember you are still ultimately accountable for the overall performance.

Step 7:  Spend More Time with Top Performers

Traditionally managers spend most of their time with weaker members of the team.  I do the opposite.  I spend more time with the stronger performing members.

The top players on your team identify the new cracks in the work.  These people are the ones to raise their voices with new and improved ways to do the work.  Items that can save time and money. 

Step 8:  Support Underperformers but Fire Quickly

I spend less time with underperformers on the team.  Yes, spend enough time to try to correct the actions and behaviors that make them the weak link.  It is the individual’s responsibility to improve.

I believe you cannot motivate people long-term. You can give a kick in the ass.  It may last a week, a day, or an hour.  The teams I assemble must own their roles.  That comes from the person themselves.

Spending exorbitant amounts of time on a lagging individual is frustrating for me and the rest of the team. 

One weak link can pollute the Dream Team you assembled.  Give people a chance, but it’s a short runway.

That’s all for this week.

See you next Sunday.

John

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John Barker

John Barker

John has over 25 years of technology experience and earned a Bachelor’s in Business Management & MBA.  He also holds CISSP and PMP certifications.

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