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Pawel Brodzinski on Software Project Management

We Know Nothing about Our Teams


I am a chatty guy. Catch me while I’m not overworked and I will gladly jump into discussion. If you happen to be my colleague, it may be a discussion about our company. That’s perfectly fine for me.

I believe in transparency so I won’t keep all information as they were top secret. This means I’m likely to tell you more than your manager. Not because I don’t know how to keep a secret but because vast majority of managers talk with their teams way too little.

With this approach I usually know a lot of gossips told in companies I work for. Since I also happen to fulfill rather senior roles I have another perspective too. I know what is discussed on top management meetings.

This is sort of schizophrenic experience for me because almost always I have two different pictures of the same thing. I see senior managers praising people who are disrespected by their teams. I see folks who get credited for the work they didn’t do. I see line workers being completely frustrated while their managers are saying these guys are highly motivated. I see managers completely surprised when people suddenly leave while almost everyone saw that coming for past half a year.

I see it and I don’t get it. All these managers do very little, if anything, to learn a bit about their people but they claim they know everything. I may be wrong but I believe I do much more to learn about my team, yet I still consider I know nothing.

If one of you guys is reading that, yes, I’m stressed that you might leave. I’m stressed when you get out of the room to pick the phone since definitely it is a headhunter who’s calling. I can’t sleep when you take a single day off since, and I know it for sure, you have an interview. OK, I might have exaggerated a bit. Anyway in terms of my knowledge about my team I know that I know nothing.

And you know what? If you are a manager you are no better. Because generally speaking we know nothing about our teams. Even if we are friends with our subordinates our professional relationship is much of unknown. With strangers we usually work with it is much, much harder.

Stop expecting you know oh so much about your people and at least try to talk with them. If you’re lucky you may find a couple of folks who actually are willing to talk with you. Remember though, if you ignore them once or twice they aren’t coming back to you.

It looks like I have a pretty poor opinion about quality of people management in general. Well, I must admit I do. I would be a hypocrite if I deny it regarding my recent posts on subject:

in: communication, team management

3 comments… add one

  • Tomek Dabrowski June 14, 2010, 12:45 pm

    Nice post, I like it… You need to do so little (maybe for few manager it would be a huge thing) and it is so simple (just talking with people) if you want to have a “happy team”. Just show people that you care about them, listen what they are saying, find always time for them, ask and give them feedback. Yep, I’m for that :)

  • Pawel Brodzinski June 14, 2010, 1:45 pm

    Well, maybe you won’t have a happy team but at least you should learn what their morale is. Personally I think we should do much more than just talking with our teams, but most of managers fail even with the very first step.

  • anna smith June 15, 2010, 7:21 am

    We can encourage our team to get to know us.

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