Thursday, November 19, 2009

What Kind of Team Player Are You?

As a software project manager, I frequently have to interact with people filling different roles in the development process.

Over the years I've often been in the position of needing to work with these people to accomplish some goal. Usually they possess information I have to have in order to determine whether something can be done, or what specific steps need to be taken in order to get the job done right.

A few people have been helpful. Most are... less so.

In fact, I was eventually able to categorize the kinds of answers I can expect to get when I ask a "can I do X?" kind of question:

  • "Yes."
    Translation: "You can do whatever you want, but you'll have to figure it out yourself; I'm clearly too busy/important to help you. Oh, and don't get it wrong, or else."
  • "No."
    Translation: "I am a human roadblock. You will follow my required process. I will not tell you what that process is. If you ask, I will assume the attitude that it's something you should (somehow) already know."
  • "Yes, but."
    Translation: "Progress is dangerous. Do you not realize just how many things might go wrong? It's my job to object continuously to every little thing you will ever propose, and to write emails to your manager disclaiming all responsibility if anything bad ever happens."
  • "No, but."
    Translation: "No, that won't work, but here's some information that might help you find another way to accomplish your goal."

I love the "no, but" people. The "no, but" people understand that we all play for the same team, and that by taking a few extra seconds to help me be productive, they help themselves, too.

The only bad thing about the "no, but" people is that there aren't nearly enough of them.

Which kind are you?

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