Monday, April 13, 2009

Do What You Wanna

Sometimes life slows down a little bit. There's lots to be done, still (there's always lots to be done!), but it's slow enough that you can take on projects. You can clean up that tool that has always had some rough edges. You can work on getting your test Active Directory installation moved to virtual servers. You can... well, lots of things.

It's temping here as a team lead to go through and prioritize what you think is important and hand it out to the team. I'm not saying this is wrong, but one thing that I always try to put on the list is "do what you wanna".

Do what you wanna means everyone on the team gets to pick what they want to do, at least with some of their time. Sometimes someone will pick something I think is minor at best (making a script log a ticket correctly, for example), but that's okay. Maybe I was wrong and it's a good win. Maybe it's just something that the engineer really thought he could do. Maybe it was an excuse to learn a new language or technique.

The point is that there's no need to micromanage everything. Ask for the really important stuff, but don't sweat everything else. There will always be more work. There will always be more time (eventually). Give your engineers some freedom, and make "do what you wanna" a task just like everything else.


  1. Great post for those we manage. I've always tried to incorporate things that I know people want to do into their daily tasks, just to make sure they get to expand their horizons and know that I am looking out for them. But I also like the freedom of "do what you wanna." It can be easier to manage and assign tasks, but I lose the visibility of what they're working on at the same time.

  2. Visibility is pretty easy for us, generally. Most of it comes out of daily standups. The rest comes from checkin watches (we review each others changes) and from test results that we share.