Monday, May 11, 2009

Agile and Management - using one-on-ones model

I've been programming for over 10 years, and I think that Agile methodologies are KEY for any IT field, but when I moved to management there was something missing: I did not know how to manage my team.

I joined a start-up company focused on the Latin American market and SMS applications. I started as a senior developer and eventually senior management made me Director of Technology. I was under the influence that not much was going to change. I had only a handful of directs, and I worked with them for quiet some time. Therefore, I continued doing my stand-up meetings, showcases, Sprint Planning Meetings, retrospectives, etc. However, many incidents quickly made me realize that I didn't know my directs as well as I thought.

One incident happened right after I joined the company. One of my developers (who was also a senior) became very distant and also showed some attitude. Also, some of the developers started coming in late. Worse of all, I was terrible on providing feedback. I was stressed and always talking bad to them.

Lucky enough, I stumbled on the podcast "Manager Tools". They had a podcast named "Boss One-on-Ones - Professional Updates". It really changed the way I managed my team. The model works awesome and it's very simple. The model is based on weekly meeting with each direct for 30 minutes.
  1. The first 10 minutes is for them,
  2. Next 10 minutes for you
  3. Last 10 minutes for development.
It took a while for my team to open-up, but later I realize that one of my developers wanted my position, the other developer said that he always needed help meeting deadlines and coming on time. Not only was I able to know my directs, but I was becoming a better manager. Because I knew my directs better I was able to help them with their careers, and I was able to efficiently delegate since I knew their strengths and weakness. Highly recommend it!

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