Monthly Archives: August 2015

Be a fit in the team #6 – Self development

Hola lector!

Ahh, the summer days, the sun, the waves. This is life!

Gladly, for most of us this period is quite long. Even if you don’t like summer, winter is coming (pun intended).

Self development

Case presentation:

Before going on with the discussion we should set the target audience. This is aimed at you, the one who is at least content with their job. The company may not be the best, neither the colleagues, but you are doing what you like.

We could start to surface the problem already. The team and the project are alive and have a direction. Unless there is an business unknown to me, the direction would point towards profit.

The profit means doing something better, faster, more efficient or for more people.

In order to fit in that team you should start helping out. It is expected of you to at least accommodate the change. By coming with ideas you fit above the line. By actually implementing the ideas and having a drive for improvement you do over-perform.

There is a branch of people who do not invest in self development but are not bad enough to be let go either. The pitfall with them is that they are good enough until a big change comes into play. From there on, the resource will be a junior again and will learn at the speed at which the information is presented. The same mistakes as before the previous change will be made.


As a team member:

  1. Find out the direction of the company/project
  2. Find out what you would like to do in the upcoming future
  3. Make a mix of of the two and drive the progress

Team lead:

As you could figure it out already, not everyone wants to invest in self-development and people can’t be forced to do things.

  1. Discuss with the team member and understand the following aspects
    1. Hobbies
    2. Direction
    3. Availability
  2. Set up a plan for which the member seems willing to commit
  3. Start splitting the work into tasks and set up deadlines together
  4. If there is no progress:
    1. Understand again why the progress did not start
    2. Split into smaller tasks by accommodating the reason

The good:

  1. You will be more competitive on the market
  2. You will be more useful in your team

The bad:

I am sorry but I can’t recall the last time when learning something new hurt.


A raise is not a right. It is expected of each employee to work during the agreed amount of time for the agreed upon tasks. By doing just that you don’t deserve anything, you seem to do better because you know the project in more detail. What’s even worse, you are keeping a job occupied that could be of someone who invests in self development. It is called self development because it involves you.

Unless agreed on in advance, the company is not supposed to find time for you to improve. The team lead can try to go a step further and help you out, but it is not his job to teach you what to do after work in order to improve your life.

Have a nice day further on and sorry for the abrupt end but this is the truth. Your life costs you heartbeats, your position costs money. Bring this money in your pockets by bringing more value in those core hours.


Be a fit in the team #5 – Deadlines

Hello again,

Me: Today you have that thing to deliver… what was the name of it… probably not that important enough. You will figure it out when you get to work. Meh, on a second thought I think I have promised my colleague to have it ready by the end of the day yesterday. Who cares, nobody is sending emails in the middle of the night.

Him: Aww, tomorrow morning I must really focus on the task QWE. I really hope that the answer for ASD is send by the end of the day today so I can just finish it. Such a minor task anyway… for my piece of mine, I would save a draft of the message tonight and spell proof read it tomorrow. If only I could get that reply… ARGHH!


Case presentation:

The deadlines, minor or major, are a very powerful motivational tool for everyone.

They help us split the work in chunks which allow us to track the progress. Without this metric we always have to go through the process of estimating what have been done and what it remains to be done. What’s even worse if the fact that only you, the executor can provide this estimation based on your knowledge. The less experienced you are, the more vague the estimation will be.

With deadlines we can provide an overview of what will be done and when. This enables the people around us to mind their business and net their needs and expectations around our deliverables.

Another aspect would be the amount of dopamine released by the brain when we are done with a piece of work. Now, making us feed good is a great achievement by itself, but this is not all. A snowball effect is triggered and the need to finish more arises.

In addition to the above aspects, the deadlines help us control the work spikes and overtime. Without a good system of tracking and presenting the estimations vs time used there is no way you can explain the necessary resources. There are bottlenecks everywhere. The fact that they exist is a problem, not working towards solving them is another problem altogether.


1) Understand the current system of estimations. It might not exist, it might be flawed or it might be room for improvement. Ask about it.

2) Start by logging your own piece of work by respecting what’s currently in place or create something new and observe how long each piece of work takes.

3) When you are comfortable with your system, start logging your work in advance and iron out the new problems.

4) Now you are in the position in which you could present your system. Don’t go just yet. Calculate how much overhead it adds to your work versus the advantages. Most people want numbers and a dream. Make sure you match your resources with the client’s.

5) Pick your fight. Present it to the ones equal to you if allies are needed for a cause, make sure your system helps the organisation. Don’t create a riot. Present it to your lead if you want to increase your visibility.

6) Profit!

The good:

1)  Makes you happier at work.

2) Partially removes the blame of not finishing everything in time.

3) Creates historical data to set better expectations in the future.

The bad:

1) By using such a system, expectations are generated and people are supposed to stick to it.

2) It is easy to draw untimely conclusions regarding a team member just by using estimations alone. Avoid doing this, it is a very slippery road.

3) Some personalities might feel surrounded and constrained.


Be the person who has a log of what new items pop up and ask the relevant entity to re-prioritise your work based on the new entries. There is a fixed an amount of time and everyone’s goal is to deliver as much as possible in that amount of time.

Be the colleague that announces a delay ahead of time and does not delay his colleagues.


Don’t forget. Estimations are your friend.


Be a fit in the team #4 – Favours

Hey reader,
you do like to gossip because it is quite fun. We all like it. The downside is that finding out the topics is not always something that you actually want or desire.

There are two points of view for this topic: “Obtaining a favour and bragging about it” and “Ask why and how a favour has been obtained”.

Obtaining a favour and bragging about it

Case presentation:

You have worked very hard recently in order to obtain something that nobody has. Desired or not by the others, it does not matter. They do not have it. You are happy and excited about it. This is good. You feel like sharing your happiness with the ones around you and bragging against the ones who did not believe in you.


1) Do not do any of the things that you feel like doing. There are very few circumstances in which it will end up well. Very very few! In all the others it will do you more harm than good.

2) When asked about your favour, always send the inquirer to talk to the one that granted you the favour. It is the only correct way to do it.

The good:

You are happy about what you have obtained just during the bragging conversation. As soon as the conversation is over, we go into “the bad”.

The bad:

1) Due to many many reasons, not all of us are equal. Even if we were equal, sometimes it would happen that only the first request is approved.

2) You will be labeled as someone who cannot respect the privacy of a conversation. If the manager wants this conversation to be public, he holds the meeting and presents the news accordingly.

3) From a manager’s perspective, it is cheaper to remove the root of the problem instead of creating the support required for everyone else to benefit. Here we do not talk only about the money.

Ask why and how a favour has been obtained

Case presentation:

Someone that you work with has obtained something and you are sooooo eager to learn what and why. Who knows, maybe you even like it, maybe you are just curious or you want to learn from their experience.


The only action that will not harm your colleague is to ask the person who granted the favour. Any other action will create problems for him and useless ideas for you.

The good:

You feel that you are close to you colleague for trusting you with that “secret”.

The bad:

1) Asking for a favour with him as an example will label him as a person who does not understand how privacy works.

2) You will not get the same treatment because you are different.

3) You will end up with a new desire which it is very unlikely to come true.


When the time is right, the person empowered to announce the news will do it. Don’t ask about it, don’t talk about it. Focus on being as efficient as you could be. Life is not about the end result because we all die in the end. It is about the journey. Knowing the future sucks, while finding bits and creating around them makes it fun.

The team lead can use these favours as a very powerful motivational tool. Instead of just granting favours, he can present to the team a list of desired actions and outcomes so that others can understand how they can win something. It is obvious that they do not know how to do it, why to do it or what to do. If they are presented the “why” and a list of “what” it is very likely that some of them will try to figure out the “how”. This is a very good opportunity to use somebody’s drive and work in order to create a positive momentum inside the team towards the goals expected by the upper management.

Have a good evening,
Gabi and the blonde friend