I learned is that not everyone reacts the same way to adversity, uncertainty and challenges. But it is building the key relationships that will be with you doing the good times that gets you thru the bad times.
I know in writing the summary should be at the bottom, but I think if you just read the top statement, you start thinking. I was asked a question by a senior management if my team is productive working remote during covid. My response was to ask a question “define productive?” Of course this made him think, as well as myself think. I remembered when we first were told we were going to be 100% remote in early March, and somewhere around early April I was confident my team was working as we did pre-pandemic.
Well how did we go from productive to worry to back being productive so quickly. So I took a step back and thought about it. I have built this team over the past 5 years. I selected people who I thought had different skills, knowledge and experiences. One key item was could they work with our team. Are they willing to be part of something. I then spend the time making them fell they are a part of something. I may have experts in one technology or the other (I once asked one of them who they go to for help with Java…. he couldn’t answer) – but what I want is a group that will help the team, and get a great feeling that they helped another.
Once a year (usually in January) I lay out my expectations with the team. I do this with new hires also. The first expectation, is that I expect you to have fun and enjoy your job. Usually that gets a strange reaction. But it is first and foremost. Second that you should ask for help when needed, and more importantly help others when asked. I never thought at the granular level what this really meant. But from years of working in different organizations the teams I worked on that succeeded had this notion of helping.
What I missed in that having that culture of assisting others is that team members would build relationships. These relationships are easily built when times were good, when the day to day work was there. Yes there was pressure, and occasionally some stress, but most days it was working together to complete projects. Over the years as we added team members they go the same introduction and built these key friendships on the team. We all learned trust, respect and understanding.
When Covid hit, and we were now forced into crisis mode guess what happened? The relationships that were built during the good times well were leveraged during the crisis. The ability for people to work and help each other out was just there. There was no need to try to create a new culture. What we needed to do was find better tools, and the understanding of how to use them. Within about a month of the crisis, after the first initial shock, the team went back to running the same velocity it had pre-pandemic.
Yes, we had already moved to Agile so that some things were easy. Two week sprints, sizing, backlog grooming etc. (For those who don’t work in Agile done worry about that). But the key part of Agile is also constant communication. Normally it was supposed to be face to face, but once the team recognized which tools to use and when. The relationships took over, and the team was back to “norming.”
So the answer to my MD should have not been define productive, it should have been that it was the time we spent together building the relationships as a team made the transition during the pandemic back to normal very easy. I don’t know if those relationships are made during the pandemic work the same, does video suffice for face to face, can texting/messaging grow the same bond as in person. But I do know, if it wasn’t for the building blocks done before the crisis, we would not be as successful as we were during it.
This opinion is mine, and mine only, my current or former employers have nothing to do with it. I do not write for any financial gain, I do not take advertising and any product company listed was not done for payment. But if you do like what I write you can donate to the charity I support (with my wife who passed away in 2017) Morgan Stanley’s Children’s Hospital or donate to your favorite charity. I pay to host my site out of my own pocket, my intention is to keep it free. I do read all feedback, I mostly wont post any of them
This Blog is a labor of love, and was originally going to be a book. With the advent of being able to publish yourself on the web I chose this path. I will write many of these and not worry too much about grammar or spelling (I will try to come back later and fix it) but focus on content. I apologize in advance for my ADD as often topics may flip. I hope one day to turn this into a book and or a podcast, but for now it will remain a blog.