On August 27, 2020, ProFocus hosted a roundtable discussion of Portland-based technology leaders. John Boone, the President of ProFocus Technology, moderated the discussion. The leaders in attendance offered various advice, best practices, and lessons learned. The following are notes from the one-hour discussion.
Roundtable Discussion Topic: How Will Tech Leadership Transform After the Pandemic?
Leaders will have to trust their employees more
- Trust. Back in the old days you could walk over and know if someone is working and what they are doing. We need to develop a new level of trust. We need to accept the fact you can’t always reach out within 1 or 2 minutes. You have to trust your people to be doing what they need to be doing when you can’t see them. The truth is even if they are working in front of you, you don’t know what have are doing.
- The younger generation of the workforce expects to be trusted and will move to a company that offers it if your company does not.
- Some companies are doing key loggers and click loggers. Young people will leave these companies and look for companies and leaders who trust them to do the work.
Set and communicate clear expectations
- How do I manage people I can’t see?
- Manage by objectives… what quantifiable results will I see if you do your job?
- Manage by deliverables and expectations.
Change from work-life balance to work-life integration.
- Go to the store, take your kids to dance class, etc.
- Log in Slack that you are out and when you will be back
- We’re now more accountable to each other for achieving an outcome, not certain hours.
Noticing that teams are more productive
- “We get more done before 10am than any other team all day. The team is moving at light speed.”
- Changed sprint increments to more real time. Used to be on two-week sprint cycles, now doing weekly, can barely keep up with the number of story points the team is banging out. Velocity is crazy.
- Google Docs – everyone working on same document at the same time.
- In years past, we managed processes by consensus. Trust team members to make decisions on the fly.
New ways to collaborate without the water cooler
- Missing water cooler talk to check on your staff? How are you getting around that? Slack.
- Leave a Zoom line open all day so people can drop in. People all over the world are joining in at one company.
- “Lunch Together” – 3 days a week, virtually. Just have a work-related discussion.
Preventing burnout of your team members
- Always available? How not to burn out the team?
- One leader did remote on a 7-month project, he found himself working at 2:00am. Be sure that your team is taking time away, is taking vacations, taking time to have a meal with family.
- Model behavior of taking breaks, etc.
- Have a specific channel in Slack – if I need to be off line for a couple hours, post in that Slack channel: “I’ll be out, if it is urgent, text me.”
- Trust them that they will be available, but also acknowledge that life has changed… kids are home, etc.
- Transform from team-focused work over individual-focused work.
- Do not have individuals be a single point of contact, instead make teams that can be available. This allows people to engage and disengage. You can do this by having an email address for the service, not the person. e.g. OracleDBA@ instead of JoeS@.
- If someone is the sole knowledge holder of the system, that person feels a lot of pressure. You can improve this by doing a baseball rotation. Rotate people around the diamond so that everyone gets experience.
Rebuild your team for the new reality
- Revisit your team agreement…“We are a new team, we are remote (also new engineers added), we will establish a new virtual team agreement.” Focus on what to do, not when to do it.
Working with your own manager
- Everyday, let your manager know “here are 5 things I’m working on. Here is the issue and what I’m going to do.”
- Give her the opportunity for input or direction.
- Ask, “What can I help you with? What is on your mind this week?”
Additional Topic: Networking for IT Leaders during the Pandemic
What networking groups can you recommend?
- TAO: http://www.techoregon.org/
- SIM: SIMPDX.org – Contact John Boone, membership chairman for more information.
- AgilePDX: https://agilepdx.org/
- Future of Work: https://fowpdx.com/
- Reach out to people you know via LinkedIn to keep relationships alive.
Resources Recommended by Attendees to Learn More
If you are a leader in Technology, and would like to be involved in future roundtable discussions like the one above, please send an email to [email protected] with a request to be invited to upcoming Leaders Lunches.