Just another blog…

One-on-One

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TL;DR – Bill Walsh, an ex-NFL coach, had a leadership approach that transformed the success of the San Francisco 49ers. His ‘Standard of Performance’ covers a wide range of leadership traits that apply across industries. Each point offers learning relevant to leading tech teams today.

There’s no hiding from the fact that results are important. If release targets or customer subscription and retention numbers are not met jobs could be at risk. However, as counterintuitive as it sounds, solely focusing on results will probably have the opposite effect!

“Concentrate on what will produce results rather than on the results, the process rather than the prize.”

Bill Walsh was an NFL coach whose advanced leadership transformed the San Francisco 49ers from the worst sports franchise to a legendary dynasty. The Score Takes Care Of Itself details Bill’s take on leadership which can apply to any industry not only on the football… Continue reading

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Some blogs I recommend reading from this month…

How to Manage an Employee Who’s Having a Personal Crisis
Whether we like it or not people in our teams will go through difficult times, this covers good points for supporting those people in the right way.

The 4 questions you should stop asking during your one-on-one meetings
I ask the “How’s it going?” quite often, even “How’s life?” too, these are questions people expect when starting a 1:1, particularly the first. They are a good way to start, but then be open how the person responds and flow from there. You will have questions prepared and variation is important, where this blog can help. Questions that are specific helps to avoid those vague answers.

8 Tips for Being a Good Tech Lead
You may not be hands-on coding anymore but there are still helpful points in this blog. I like the… Continue reading

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One-to-ones should be seen as a special time, it’s usually the only time set aside for you and a member of the team to talk…about anything! Unfortunately, it seems most time in one-on-ones is used up with status reports that a manager should know anyway. Set a target to learn something new from each of your one-on-one conversations.

Fill in the gaps

A manager cannot be in every conversation or meeting. One-on-ones are an opportunity to ask questions to fill in any gaps from missed meetings/discussions.

  • How did the meeting go? (give specific details in the question)
  • What was the outcome?
  • Is there anything I need to know?

You learn a lot about the person in the way they describe events. Was the context set? Can you understand the main topics from them? Were the outcomes described clearly? Did you notice any bias? These conversations let you fill in the… Continue reading

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I enjoy photography and learning how to capture better photos. I’ve been the photographer at a few low-key events, snapping away trying to catch those special photos. It’s not until later that someone asks did you get a picture of this or can I see a particular photo that you realise you didn’t capture it in the right way or didn’t get it at all. I didn’t know it was important so didn’t spend time being in the right place or thinking how to best capture the moment. I learnt a lesson, know what is important to the hosts of the event. By asking them you find out areas to concentrate on e.g. the food, certain people, a certain activity during the event. If you don’t ask, you don’t know which could lead to disappointment! There is a similarity here with tech teams – do you know what is important… Continue reading

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We all have needs and many of these are unique, this is what makes working with people intriguing. Some needs are obvious, others are closely guarded secrets, and more we don’t even know ourselves! As leader’s we have to make every effort to understand the needs of the people in our teams and adjust our approach to meet those needs. I will use Autism and ADHD as an example here as I’ve had a steep learning curve in this area over the last couple of years. These could be considered quite extreme needs compared to others but we can still approach these in a similar way.

The first challenge is recognising there is a need! For those who are not open about their needs, we have to spot them, which makes observation key. Is someone acting out of character? Are you seeing unexpected responses to questions? Is anyone uncomfortable in… Continue reading

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The desire to praise people or teams should be firmly rooted in the mind of every leader. When someone does good work or puts extra effort in for the team it feels natural to praise them for it. I wouldn’t want anyone to think their effort has gone unnoticed. HBR’s blog – The Easiest Thing You Can Do to Be a Great Boss – focuses on recognising great work. Their survey results show giving praise improves the “Boss-Employee” relationship, boosts morale, and improves job satisfaction. I couldn’t agree more and believe that giving praise in part of what makes teams stronger. That was until…

…I came across the following while reading Lean Enterprise (p222):

Dweck’s work shows that if we reward people for the effort they put into solving problems that they find challenging, it shifts them towards a growth mindset. If, in contrast we praise and reward people for… Continue reading

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We obviously know who our team is, but do we really know each person?! Each person is unique, each has their own strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. To get the best out of someone you need to understand them well enough. This takes time but it also takes thought with seeking the right information. Having that deeper knowledge not only strengthens the relationship, it means you have the insight to make decisions for the benefit of individuals and the team.

In a previous blog – taking notes during a one-on-one – I mentioned capturing notes from these one-on-ones into a draft email. This I still do, but there is more in this email that helps me get to know each person. As well as the regular notes I take I aim to out more about them using these subjects: Mobile, Family, Birthday, Lives, Likes, What is truly important, Favourite… Continue reading