#62 - 16 April 2021
Preparing for post-pandemic departures; Embrace the grind; Ramadan tips for non-Muslim friends
Thanks for your comments about earlier hiring and feedback posts. I’m taking those responses and getting some help pulling those together, incorporating the input, adding more material, and putting into some kinds of coherent wholes that can be made more widely available (like the getting started with one-on-ones material). As always, I appreciate your comments, questions, suggestions, and feedback - please always feel free to hit reply or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org at any time.
For now, the roundup!
It’s not personal, but once the pandemic is over and some kind of normalcy returns, a lot of people are going to leave their jobs. The past year has been stressful and exhausting, and even if their job wasn’t a big part of that, a lot of team members are just tired with everything and are going to be looking for a change.
So while it’s always good to be prepared for any given team member to leave (make sure everything’s always documented, use one-on-ones to have a good understanding of what everyone’s working on, use techniques like pair programming/PR reviews or talks and demos to disseminate knowledge), we should be doubly prepared in the coming months.
The post on NOBL makes the following suggestions:
Make sure your off-boarding checklist still makes sense in a post-pandemic world (how do they get equipment back to the department?)
Acknowledge the discomfort of team members who are being left behind
Have a celebration moment for the departing team member - maybe at a regularly scheduled meeting, maybe something separate. Celebrate your team member going on to the next part of their career
Consider a physical memento
Make sure you get needed knowledge from them before they leave
It may seem odd to celebrate the team member leaving, but basically none of your team members are going to keep their current job with you until retirement. They will all move on, and new team members will join in their place, that’s good and healthy, and we want to mark these moments like all life transitions - celebratory, even if a little melancholy.
To the list they provided, I’d add: make sure you have the documents - job description, evaluation framework, interview questions - in place to be able to post a job ad for a replacement for anyone on a moment’s notice. (If you don’t - review the hiring discussion we had in #51, #52, #53).
These two articles point out the power of fairly simple (but tough to do) behaviours to move projects or conversations forward.
In the first, Kaplan-Moss tells us about the power of just sitting down and grinding through a lot of manual work to make a big impact. The work example hs cites is simply spending the hours of time needed to go through a huge issue backlog, categorizing and labelling and prioritizing. With that done, the team was now unblocked on closing a number of the tickets as duplicates, seeing the patterns in what needed to be done, focussing on the highest value issues, and plowing through the backlog.
I’ve noticed this too in my own career - sometimes just bearing down and doing a bunch of unglamorous manual work can shift project momentum in ways it needs to go, or bring you to the table for conversations because you now have produced something of value that wasn’t achievable another way.
In the second article, the author points out the power of just staying silent when facilitating conversations. This is especially important to us as managers with some authority. Being silent for what feels to you an incredibly long time will eventually prompt others to contribute.
Dirty Escalations: Making Frenemies and Pissing Off People - Chase Seibert
So Manager-Tools would tell us, correctly, that escalation is a very broad term that means any kind of communication of increased urgency/importance - bringing a due-date of a deliverable earlier, going from an email to a phone call or a quick video chat, etc. That is all true, and “escalation” is also widely used to mean specifically raising an issue up the organizational ladder, and until we have a term specifically for that kind of activity, people will continue to use escalation to mostly mean that.
Seibert talks about the “to the manager” kind of escalation, what the problems are, and how it can go bad. The suggestion is to have the two team members jointly escalate to their manager(s) with a co-authored document which then maintains the context as it goes up the chain. Not only is that a pretty good approach, it even works when the team members share a manager and that manager’s you. You want to avoid being the tie breaker of first resort, and encouraging your team members to author something and send it to you is a good step towards having them get it mostly sorted themselves.
Ramadan Mubarak! - Ramadan Tips for Non-Muslim Friends of Muslims - Fahmida Kamali
Ramadan is here, and Kamali offers some tips for those of us who are non-Muslims to be supportive to and non-weird around their Muslim colleagues during this period of fasting. As Kamali points out in a twitter thread, working from home does not make it easier to fast (do you find yourself eating less these days?) and we could all use a little extra support right now. In this slide deck, she offers some background and some tips:
If you’re not fasting, don’t be weird about eating in front of observers - it makes them feel awkward
Ask about the experience rather than making assumptions
Sometimes Muslims don’t fast for a number of reasons - don’t pry
Ask if they need any help or accommodations
You can participate without fasting - in normal times by joining an Iftar (breaking of the fast), or sharing wealth
Be understanding and show solidarity
Meet taskell, a small command-line and terminal based kanban board that lets you import trello boards.