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wtorek, 17 grudnia 2013

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Technical leader worries: people from team are whining

It's very annoying situation when you hear whining from  your team. They complain about boring work, stupid company security policy, wrong management decisions, customer not knowing what she wants and changing her mind, project manager crowding on them. Doesn't it sound familiar?

I have great news for you: that's wonderful they are whining, just try to hear the calling: "there is something important for me not happening". It would be much worse if they had that frustration and didn't say anything. How would you know then? It would be much more difficult to learn what is really going on.

Don't treat this calling as attack, don't treat it personally because it's not about you. It is about this person, and something important for that person that is not happening. It's just the only way that person know how to say it.

Instead of defensing or explaining acknowledge the message and try to learn what is so important him/her and what would she want to happen. For example (it's just the pattern):

I can hear you feel steamed by this [acknowledge person's worries], can you tell what's so important for you in this situation [ask what she really needs] and what would you suggest we can do about it [and what is her request for]?

You can hear anything in response. It doesn't mean you have to comply with this request. If you can, why not to do it? If you can't just tell it, tell what's important for you, and then try to find soltution fulfilling your and person's needs.

How could it work like?
(Guy from your team is whining that tasks he does are boring)
- I am always given this boring tasks. The work in the team is not challanging. Any monkey could do it!
(Huhhhh. Tough! Take a deep breath and remember, it's not about you, it's about him. He tries to tell you something, sometimes it is not pleasent, he just wasn't taught how to do it in friendly manner).
- Ok, I can hear from what you said that you feel steamed because your task are too easy for you and you can't learn anything new?
(Just wait a little bit, s/he may be shocked because you didn't try to suppress him or convince he is wrong or he has no right to say so).
- ... uhmmm .... Yes...
- Ok. You know, I would like to understand better why is it so important for you, because I would like us to find solution satisfying both of us...
(Wait, again. Especially for the first time it would shocking for the person.)

- ... uhmmm ... I think it's obvious...
- It might be obvious. And I want to ensure what it is, so could you tell me...
- You know, I love to create something useful, do something what improves the work..
(You've just learn what this person really needs - to make a significant contribution to others work. Then ask if she has some ideas what s/he could do).
- I understand you would like to do something what can contribute to others work... Do you know what it could be?
- ... You know... I didn't know how to tell it... I have some ideas how to improve our deployment process with a little helpful tool. But during the last meeting I was banned by others so I have given in.
- Hmmm... Interesting... I didn't notice it... Can you tell me more about this tool...?
- ... (he is explaining)
- Ok. Try to roughly estimate how complex it is and how it would affect our work. And during the next meeting we will discuss this suggestion in the team.
- Oh, fine. I'll send a mail with this data.

Just imagine what would happen if you said at the beggining: "Don't be whining. It's just how our work looks like."
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