Sunday, March 4, 2018

Defining Expectations

Asking for what I want has never been easy.  More accurately, defining and articulating what I want TO MYSELF has never been easy.  Which, as a manager, is problematic.

As I reflect, I see this as a two-pronged problem to examine. 

  • Combining my knowledge and skills and creativity with my team's knowledge, skills, and creativity to come up with a vision and priorities, and breaking these down to general goals for experienced team members, and helping break the goals down even further for newer team members (Defining what to do
  • General behaviors/attitudes that I see as useful in many situations (Defining how to be
What To Do 

It seems the ideal I need to work toward is to know when to give someone a lump of clay and the time to make a statue...or when to give someone a more paint-by-numbers task.  I don't want to rob someone capable of grand things of the opportunity to be creative, nor do I want to overwhelm a new team member who is still developing their skills and intuition.  This will vary person to person and task to task. 

How to Be

This blog post was inspired by thinking about this observation -- that what I expect and value in my team members is largely the same as what I value in my friendships.  And these expectations are largely invisible to me, and even more so to those I interact with.  Some of them are merely personal preferences rather than universal goods, which, sadly puts me on a better footing as a default with those who are most similar to me in background. 

As a first step I want to inventory the personal traits and behaviors that I value. The next step will be recognizing where there are different but equally valuable ways of behaving  & approaching work and being able to evaluate what I'm seeing in this light 
  • Initiative - I value when people are able to see or anticipate and problem and take the next logical steps to solving it, as their experience allows.  They feel ownership of the product or the situation and take action without having to be asked. 
  • Independence - I value when people try to do things on their own first (via experimentation or Googling) but, wait, wait, wait...DON'T go overboard.  Ask for help if your own research is coming up short or it is a time critical task.  
  • Curiosity and drive -- I value the compulsive need to dig deeper to find the root cause of an issue or to explore an area of the software that seems "off" to them that day....but, wait, wait, wait, DON'T go overboard focusing on details that don't matter. 
  • Flexibility - I value when people are able to change course and refocus their attention when circumstances require it
I am sure there are more, but this is a good starting point.  I can already see evidence of some rigidity in my thinking (even though I supposedly value Flexibility) that I can start working on being more mindful of increasing my range of comfort in others' behavior.