One of my directs, a manager of a software development department, is having a difficult time getting his staff to arrive at work on time, keeping their discussions work-related, confining their lunch hours to the allocated time, limiting coffee breaks to once per hour, leaving early, and missing deadlines. Some of his directs could be considered prima donnas. Possibly they intimidate him.

Can anyone think of MT podcasts that I can recommend to him?

jrb3's picture
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Has he asked what his directs see are problems?

Further context here would be useful.  Software development is notorious for odd hours and "continually juggling mental eggs".  I've had a few software development positions where the office was so interruptive, I had to shift my hours up to a half-day earlier or later, just to have enough "think" time to actually do my work.  Some others, I could only work when the bulk of the users were not on the systems, waiting for the resources I needed, or could actually repair broken stuff.  That left us hanging out, talking shop and designing improvements and shooting the breeze, during core business hours.

If his department were not missing deadlines, would it be sensible to have any of the other concerns?

(Taking examples from my own career:)  Maybe they're leaving early so they can get home to more-powerful machines and can really solve whatever bug they're butting heads with.  Maybe they're taking longer lunches to actually talk with the users, to compensate for no-one officially tasked with gathering requirements.  Maybe there's one "alpha tech" with a cavalier attitude and questionable humor, and the others are just following his example.  Each of these is a different cause, with different viable resolutions.


leanne's picture
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This is long. There's a bunch of podcast suggestions; then there's some questions I suggest the manager think about. I apologize for the length.

All the basic Trinity casts, particularly O3s and feedback, are a good place to start. A REALLY REALLY REALLY good place to start. The manager may think 'they're already missing deadlines and you want me to take half an hour MORE every week away from their work?' If I had to say, pay attention to one thing I say in this post, it's this one. I'd love it if I could spend half an hour with my manager every week. Imagine the number of problems I could get through if I could only reliably bring them to her and talk through them and figure out how to deal with them! Please, if they're not doing O3s, mandate that this manager start doing so.

Some other cast possibilities I can think of:

* DISC stuff: What's the manager's profile, and what are theirs? Developers *usually*, but not always, fall into the C or D/C realm. It can't hurt to make sure the manager knows what they're working with in themselves and their people.

* Calendar Management/Priority Management: Sometimes missed deadlines come from mismanaged priorities, so the manager can coach someone with that kind of issue using the calendar and priority/time management casts as a basis for how to improve handling those things.

* Develop a Sense of Urgency in Your Team (Dec 2006):  Enough said just in the title.

* Owning the Inputs (November 2009): This can be a significant source of issues.

* Influence Through Verbal Commitments (April 2010): Are they even vaguely committing to the deadlines? (See below for more related questions for you and your direct to ask.) This series can help with that.

* The One-Third Planning Rule (June 2011):  This is just something I want EVERY SINGLE MANAGER EVER EVER EVER to listen to no matter what, particularly when they complain about their people missing deadlines. Speaking as a developer: Please. Listen. Even if his first reaction is 'this is irrelevant', it's a Very Good Idea to for him to listen anyway and, over the next several weeks, evaluate his actions. Just in case.

* How to Manage an Arrogant Producer (January 2010): Again, enough said just in the title.

* "But I LIKE Doing That Part of My Job!" (May 2012): Another on the priority management, really.

* Project Status Drumbeat Meeting

* The Morning Greeting: Don't brush this one off. If nothing else, every developer will know they'll have their manager paying attention to them once daily, even if only for a few moments. They'll know he's asking 'can I help you?', once they get used to it. In and of itself this can be a big help in meeting deadlines.

Now. All that aside, here is stuff I recommend to any manager to think about, and especially, to managers of software developers, because I am one and therefore these come out of my experience. I'm including this in an effort to help with how the developers might see things. Not everything will apply, of course.

1. Remember one of the MT catchphrases: If there's a problem in your organization, look for the source in increasingly larger concentric circles around your own desk. Any manager trying to address problems, especially that seem endemic to their team rather than one or two people, needs to *seriously* think 'what am I doing that is contributing to this problem?' A BIG example is above, the One-Third Planning Rule. I can't tell you how annoying it is to have a manager come to me and say 'you need to do X by Thursday'. 'Uh - what?' 'I know, it's new, it just came down'. 'When did you first hear about this?' 'Oh, last week. Monday or Tuesday.' 'You've known this might happen for a week, and you mention it to me two days before I have to deliver? It's not a 2-day task!'  There are other examples of things managers are or aren't doing. Even what I said about the Morning Greeting: That little ping of 'hey, why am I doing all the relationship work here?' can hurt a relationship and make the developers less willing to respond.

2. How are the deadlines being developed? Are they being developed with the following in mind:

* Developers feeling they understand the requirements.

* Developers feeling confident they have a reasonably good impression of the tasks needed to fulfill the requirements.

* Developers feeling confident they have a reasonably good idea of how long it takes to do each task, give or take a bit.

* All those time estimates are taken into account.

* Manager has questioned any egregiously weird estimate, and thereby feels that the estimates have a basis in reality. ('It'll take me a week to do that one report.' 'Uh...that report is a straight table dump of a lookup table with 5 elements in it.')

* Manager is working with their team to increase productivity and thus feels that the deadlines are reasonable - that similar tasks a year ago might have taken more time than this estimate has. If they don't feel the deadlines are reasonable, if they want to increase productivity, they can shorten the deadlines - but they have to try to shorten them realistically. Not 'That takes takes 2 weeks' 'well you have 2 days'. They can try: 'That task takes two weeks'. 'Can you shorten it to 8 days?'

I know not all deadlines can work this way - sometimes you just have them handed to you and you have to hand them downwards - but I'll tell you right now: Developers who feel that their estimates of how much time they need are frequently brushed aside can *really* lose interest fast in trying to meet those deadlines. They know they can't make it, except maybe if they're willing to have no life for the next three months, which they aren't, so why bother trying? Except, if they did bother trying, they could meet at least some of them, which would be better than none.  Developers need to push to improve just as much as anyone else does; nevertheless, ignoring that it DOES take time to do some things really drives us crazy.

3. Any manager should ask themselves: Just how good *is* my relationship to my team? Do I know their kids' names or even whether they have kids? Do I know when they're feeling stressed? For developers, do they challenge me - politely, not rudely, that is - when I tell them something they disagree with? Do they come to me with concerns? Do I stop by every morning just to say hi? Do they feel willing to give me bad news? Safe giving me bad news? How do I react when they give me bad news?

4. Also on the manager's side of the equation: Is he, the manager, making sure their plates are clear of other things to do? Adjusting deadlines when they do give someone something else to do? Protecting them from 'nuisance' requests? Helping them prioritize? Not trying to schedule them at 137% of their time for the next four months and expecting them to do it? (Luckily for them, my management didn't actually expect me to work 137% of my time. I wouldn't. Not for four months straight. Two, three, four weeks, yes, maybe, but not four months.)

5. Has the manager asked the developers why they think they're missing deadlines? If so, does he think they have any sort of legitimacy to the reasons? (Or perhaps, that should be rephrased, does he think they have *reasons* or do they only have *excuses*? With developers, either is definitely possible...) Reasons can be addressed by the manager changing something or helping the developer figure out how to change to get around them; excuses are feedback opportunities.

leanne's picture
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Oh yes, and one other thing I forgot: The manager will need to figure out how much of the deadline-missing is due to developers wanting perfection and not really having a feel for when is 'good enough'. He shouldn't ask that outright, just listen for when explanations sound like 'I had to spend a lot of time getting it exactly right even though it could have been delivered a while before that'.

ShannonCorin's picture
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Shannon Corin

ShannonCorin's picture
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teaguek122's picture

 Great response LEANNE.

markjennifer08's picture

You can recommend him the cloud based hours tracking tool from Replicon that could help manage the time and also the tasks related stuffs being taken care of with ease. Every single hours is kept tracked of and is utilized to maximize the work productivity.

davidhog123's picture

 Hello Misysinc,

You can suggest him to try eResource Scheduler free for 14 days.