The thing about strong opinion..

.. is that its just an opinion put forth strongly. This doesn’t mean its more appropriate  or better than other opinions. Actually, it shouldn’t be treated any different than other opinions.

It generally depends on the personality of the person stating it. Some people are more subtle in their statements and some prefer to be more affirmative.

A correct and well thought out opinion, is slightly different. In the sense, it doesn’t only focus on the pros of the opinion. It also highlights certain drawbacks, and gives a logical conclusion where pros outweigh the drawbacks. They’re much more educated and the ones which should gain more attention.

Other thing about strong opinion is, its emotionally backed. Its a major drawback. Emotion doesn’t always go well with objectivity and reasoning. If the same emotion is not shared by others in the group, it generally goes unnoticed.

Its extremely important how you put forward your opinion in a group and how you appreciate opinions from other members. Give more weightage to objective ones. Try to avoid emotional ones and strong(loud) ones.

Keep an ‘A’ player engaged

In my previous post An ‘A’ player in ‘B’ team, I touched upon few options that one has when he’s put in an average to sub-standard team. One of the options was to leave for a better option.

As organizations, you want more and more ‘A’ players. They’re the guys, you can throw into any situation knowing that they’ll take care of it. They sniff opportunities when others are pondering over the problems. They bring energy and momentum even when situations seem dark and bleak.  Its hard anyway to find one, when you do.. letting them go is obviously not the wisest of  things to do.

Typically, they struggle in larger organizations because of all the politics/bureaucracy that precedes any decision making process. And the word ‘process’ itself is kind of a metaphor for killing innovation within the company. People are mostly rewarded for doing average work, not extra-ordinary things. It discourages a good talent to keep engaging himself in company’s growth and activities.

So, what do you do.. to retain them, and keep them engaged.

1. Give them some space.

2. Opportunities to innovate.

3. Accept failures.

4. More responsibilities to execute.

5. Provide them good team to nurture and guide.

6. At times, keep them away from the bureaucratic BS.

7. Pay well. Don’t restrict them to bands.

The list is not exhaustive, but certainly ample to help you retain him long enough. As is generally said, a good programmer can be ‘X’ times more productive than average one (with X ranging from 10 to 100.. and at times infinity too).

Who do you have in your team?

[tweetmeme source=”snarayan” only_single=false]

Every now and then you come across a colleague who fits right into a stereotype. Let me try describing a few of them here..

The yes guy.

The guy never has a problem with anything. He’s at peace with everything in life.  There’s not a single negative bone in the guy.

Delivery is not assured though. Sometimes you wonder, does he really think before answering at all..

The no guy.

He’s an exact opposite of our “Yes Guy”. He almost always comes with a negative answer to a situation. Sometimes he himself doesn’t know why he’s objecting to a solution, but he objects nevertheless.

The reasons could range from wanting to be heard to absolute clueless. But he has to object.

The invisible guy.

The guy who’s never really around. He works at inhuman times. Doesn’t believe in discussing to bring about solutions.

Only reason he’s not fired is because he has a proven track-record of solving complex problems.

The innovator

The guy who pops up new ideas left, right and center. Anything conventional is just boring. He jumps around at anything new. Lets do the new library by that community, Lets move to the new version of the api.. Left to him, he’d be redesigning the solution every month with one of his new tools.

The problem guy.

“I once used this library and faced many issues.. I don’t seem to remember. But, it doesn’t work”. This is a typical statement from our Problem guy. He’s done it all and exposed them all. He knows problems in anything and everything that we use. Very handy at times, but really annoying otherwise.

The social guy.

The guy who can’t think beyond 140 chars. Always looking for things that he can put on his profile. For him, this is the augmented reality which he uses to build his social profile. You’d see him most of the times on his twitter or facebook account. Has more conversations there than within the team.

The lawyer.

The person who can debate on everything. He loves to talk. Loves to challenge the decisions. He doesn’t necessarily believe in his argument, but still goes about for the sake of it.

For him, the debate is more important than the solution itself. He thrives in discussions..

The Buzzword guy

Lets write a mobile app in functional language with a light-weight nosql db and deploy its data on the cloud”. Statements full of buzzwords are a signature of such people. He thrives on latest. Reads up any blogpost and tweet posted lately. Always upto date and keeps looking at newer buzzwords. Can’t construct a sentence without them.

We all play one of these roles interchangeably.. But frankly, this diversity is what a team is all about. If all were the same, it’d be pretty mundane

Team is as good as its Leader

[tweetmeme source=”snarayan” only_single=false]

As the saying goes ‘A leader is as good as the team’, most of the times the reverse is true as well ‘A Team is as good as its leader’.

In our part of the world, we believe a lot in bonding and forming close communities, with our leaders at our center. They are the source of inspiration, energy and direction. They command utmost respect from one and all and are a huge part of what we are as people.

During my startup, I wanted to be all that a leader should be. In the process, used to involve myself in all activities starting from product design, architecture, technical decisions, marketing and sales strategy, day-to-day operations, finance and all the rest too. The intention was to help all departments and be on top of all the things going on.

Soon I realized that there was a trend contrary to my beliefs. The team started depending on my views for everything that was going on. I was becoming the bottleneck.

This is the basis of the post: The team started becoming a shadow of myself. It could be only as good as me.

I had no clue what to do. For few months, I was able to stretch and be there at every place helping the team. But after a while, I was really struggling.. with time, with pressure of work and stayed drained out most of the time. This started affecting the quality of my decisions too.

So.. driven by compulsion, I started taking myself away from these activities, and started giving my folks more room to make decisions on their own. They were uncomfortable at first and afraid of making any crucial decisions but things improved with time. After about couple of months, surprisingly for me, the team started taking more responsibility and at times were taking better decisions than what I would have. It also increased the motivation levels among team members. All of this and their respect for me was still the same (if not higher)

I tried to see what caused this and following were my inferences:

1. People got more empowered, resulting in higher motivation to do the work.

2. They appreciated the trust that I showed on their work. This improved their morale too.

3. The decisions were taken in a democratic way. This had a very positive influence on the culture of the organization.

Conclusion:

Add right people to your team, and then trust them to do their work. Never limit a team’s capability depending on your own.