≡ Menu
Pawel Brodzinski on Software Project Management

Squeezing the Team

Several days ago I had a chat with my wife about squeezing employees. You have significant delay in project and what the boss do? This way or another he’s trying to get more from his team. Personally I don’t know any boss who hasn’t done that, maybe except of those promoted this month.

1. Money. There’s always that old simple method. Financial incentive. Stay longer, I’ll pay you more. A bunch of dollars for every hour. Personally I think it sucks when not mixed with other methods. As far as boss’ goal isn’t to have people sitting in the workplace longer but to have the job done. Of course there are jobs and people which response very well for the scenario, but on general it doesn’t work very well.

2. Simple squeeze. Get them in a room, shout at them, tell them to work more. I’m always surprised how often it actually works. How often people response positively for aggression on the other side. Sometimes it doesn’t even ruin atmosphere as team has collectively the same enemy – the boss.

3. Accountability. Let people feel accountable for the job they do. That’s not an easy path. First not everyone will respond as there are people who don’t really care. Second, it requires quite an effort and empathy from a boss. Especially the latter isn’t seen very often. Ah, it’s worth to add some financial prize after all (not before). Bonuses are typically great budget to exploit here.

4. Ask. You’d be surprised how often people have positive attitude when you just go and ask them if they could do something for you. Sure, no one would jump into the fire after you, but sometimes fixing a couple of bugs more or staying late for a couple of days aren’t unreachable. Don’t forget to say thank you.

And one more thing. When you squeeze your team, no matter if you’re on the dark or light side, always try to imagine how your people actually will feel. And while you’re doing that remember they’re usually in drastically different position than you. After all they aren’t bosses.

in: team management

3 comments… add one

  • Mike Ramm January 7, 2008, 8:00 am

    The method you call “Simple Squeeze” is very interesting phenomenon for me. I’ve seen it many times and it works almost always.

    Yelling on the team is really some kind of motivation – they not only have their common enemy but they get united against the boss and get inspired to shot “that son-of-a-bitch” that they can do their job and fulfill their tasks. Which, as a result, was the goal of the boss.

    It always amazes me how negative feelings like hatred can be so strong motivators. We have a “management” proverb in Bulgarian, which sounds in English like this: “Beat them to have their respect”.

    Weird, but it works.

  • Pawel Brodzinski January 8, 2008, 3:26 am

    I’ve heard that opinion: “people do what asshole boss wants because no one like to be yelled at.”

    Anyway almost 100% stories about asshole bosses I hear from their ex-subordinates. Sooner or later people stop accepting offensive attitude and just leave, so that’s the technique which doesn’t work in the long run.

  • Mike Ramm January 8, 2008, 5:54 am

    Yes, it’s a very important note – it really works only in short terms. Sooner or later the good people leave.

Leave a Comment