Stop managing and start helping

Last week, I read an old blog post on As Chris Daily said, people need to “let go of the perception that they are in charge. In reality, you were never in charge, but you told everyone you were.” His words sat with me while I did my usual routine in trying to shepherd code from development to release. I paid attention to how much time I spent “micro-managing.” It was too much.

So, today I stepped back officially from my “managing” of the team. After only their second sprint it was obvious that they don’t need me to manage them; they manage themselves. I should be spending my time helping them get work done, not supervising or making their decisions.

Next week I’m going to be doing more of MY job (not theirs). My job is to coach. I am excited to coach with such a talented and devoted team.

Development Tools

Developers do the work. It’s just the truth. I can coach and teach but I don’t make the product go. It’s a frustrating a rewarding thing to be the coach. But it also means that I have the responsibility to get the team whatever they need to get the job done. Today I want to talk about tools.

My developers often complain that their computers are slow. When I have confronted the people in a position to change this, they make sure everyone’s anemic machine has 8GB of RAM and a few gigs of empty storage and declare the problem solved. But I sit with the developers while they work. They spend, literally an hour a day waiting. They wait for code to compile, they wait for IIS to start, they wait for programs to stop crashing, for solutions to close and open. In general, the machines waste their time and the developers know this. Almost every developer I know has a great system at home. It’s his baby and what he will measure his work machine against. When the work machine fails this comparison miserably, the developer understands that the company doesn’t appreciate and value his skills and time as much as he does.

If we consider for a moment that each person on a team of 20 developers is billing us roughly $150/hr, then each day we spend at a minimum of $3,000 paying them to wait and get frustrated. This figure is typical back-of-the-napkin math and is lacking detail a specificity, but in general it’s accurate.

$3,000/day
wasted

What can $3,000 buy? A pretty great workstation that would stop the waiting for one person. So, in 20 days, you could “break even” on buying the whole team new machines to cut the wait time. This seems like a no-brainer. Not only would productivity go up, but the team will understand that they are important and investing in them is something that the company does willingly and  frequently. You want your dentist to have the best tools when he works on your mouth; I want my developers to have the best tools when they work on my projects. As I said above, they are the ones who do the work. They are the heart and soul of the IT department and should be treated with the import they deserve.