Jump to content
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...
  • Jimi Wikman
    Jimi Wikman

    You need to stop running because people are getting hurt

    In the last 3-4 years I have noticed an increase in the speed of which things are done within companies. By that I do not mean that we produce things faster, I mean that we take decisions or share information faster. That may sound like a good thing, but as always when things are done fast the quality drops. What I see however is even worse and that is that people, often young people, are getting hurt.

    Management is not an easy profession, regardless of position in an organization. There are important decisions to make, ton of information to absorb and people that need to be cared for. This is nothing new, but what is relatively new is a sense of urgency,  that seem to spread to an almost frantic pace these days. In some cases it's more like full panic mode even.

    I have seen organizations that spend more time in meetings than actually do anything on a management level. Some organization even take this to a whole new level. The lack of proper communication and a complete lack of trust within the organization lead to hundreds or even thousands of people who spend most of their days shuffling information back and forth in meetings.

    This is a very, very dangerous situation because when managers process information with no context and little to no actual knowledge of the topic they process then poor decisions are taken. If you add a constant stress to that situation where managers spend 30+ hours in meetings with other managers then the decisions quickly become erratic and irrational.

    I see this in many large organizations these days and I hear it from friends and colleagues in other organizations as well. Most agree that while this has always been the case in management to certain extent, it has never been as bad as it is today. No one seem to think that this is something that will change anytime soon either. Quite the opposite as we have seen this slowly escalate over the years and it has come to the point where people are getting hurt mentally and physically.

    I have seen people pass out in meetings and more than one person that leave mid day to never come back to their work again. I see daily people in the development areas with dark rings below their eyes and tired eyes. I hear people almost weekly that ask to leave their assignment due to health issues or mental fatigue.

    Everywhere I see the same tragic trend and that is that management is running frantically making poor decisions with little to no communication. People are frustrated, confused and more often than not they are becoming defensive as their managers mistrust everything they do. More often than not there will be control mechanisms that are implemented to control rather than improve the work.

    This will make people feel like they are constantly being judged and mistrusted. With an increased pace from the managers demands that comes with unclear information and little to no access to clarification there is no wonder people are breaking down. In some companies there are even activity based offices as icing on the cake to make things even more stressful for the already battered employees.

    People are getting hurt from this and you have most likely seen more than one employee cringe when you mention the Agile word or the Activity based Office. That is not because they are against these things, it's just that they are so abused by managers to avoid taking proper responsibility for making sure that communication and interaction are working.


    There is still hope!

    It is easy to blame the managers for the situation, but the fact is that most managers are really, really great people. They are also suffering from the situation of an increased pace and stress.  I know more than one manager that have taken a time out in the bathroom where they silently cried over their hopeless situation. So the managers are not the problem, it is the collective sense of urgency and lack of control.


    Step 1 - Reduce the meetings.

    Meetings are the cause of many issues today. We have meetings for almost everything with little to no thought of why we have them. Many managers are easily in 20-30+ hours every week and most meetings include 10+ people where half is just there to make sure they do not miss information. If you want to measure something, then this is something to measure to reduce waste of resources and cost.

    Make it mandatory with one full day with no meetings. This allow managers to process the information and make educated decisions what to do next. For best effect, make it the same day for everyone.

    Also follow up on meeting statistics to make sure that no more than 15 hours each week can be allocated to meetings. That is 3 hours each day, which should be more than enough if you have the communication and information strategies in place.


    Step 2 - Establish trust.

    Control is a big problem if there is no trust in the organization. The reason for that is that no matter how well the development teams are doing it will not matter of the management chain can not feel sure about that. If all managers are always sitting in meetings, then how will they get the information they need and how will they have time to forward this information up the management chain? The first step is of course to free up time by reducing the time spent in meetings.

    The second thing is to clarify responsibility. It is very difficult to provide the right information if you do not know what is expected from you. Once you know what information you need to provide, then the flow of information will improve with relevant information.

    Once you clarify responsibility and expectations you will reduce confusion, which in turn will reduce frustration. Clarity also will make it possible to provide accurate information from the development teams when it comes to estimations. This will make it easier for manages to feel that they can trust the information from the development teams. This is done by having clear role definitions and a proper process for clarifying requirements for the development teams.


    Step 3 - Establish proper communication channels.

    The last "easy" fix is to make sure you have communication channels. One thing that I see often is that just to implement a documented decision process will improve the understanding in the organization a lot. If you can understand what a decision mean, why it was taken and who took the decision, then it is much, much easier to understand. Verbal decisions are easily misunderstand, easy to override and easy to ignore. So make sure that important decisions are clearly documented and easily accessed.

    No common way of working is also a big problem. You should define a baseline for everyone to avoid that everyone in your organization create their own way of working. This is especially important in the handover points where you handover information between different groups. If this handover is done in dozens or hundreds of different ways, then that will not only cause confusion and frustration, it will cost thousands upon thousands of dollars.

    Having a common way of working does not mean that you can not have different ways of working. It just mean that you can understand the reason for having a different process as there is some need that the common way of working can not fulfill. The changes are not arbitrary as they are when there are no common way of working.


    Step 4 - Take care of your people

    No matter where you are in the organization you have people around you that you work with every day. Make sure you take a moment on a regular basis and look at the people around you. If you see someone that does not seem to feel well, then make sure you act on that. You can support the person by talking to them and listen to their problems, you can tell your manager or your managers manager and you can contact HR. 

    If we fail to see the people around us that are slowly being broken down from stress, then that person could end up being sick. Some refer to this as "hitting the wall", others being "burned out". This is one of the most devastating events in  a persons life and it is something that you never really get over.


    So take care of yourself, the people around you and please, please....
    stop running, because people are getting hurt.


    Edited by Jimi Wikman

    • Love 1
    • Like 1

    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    There are no comments to display.

    Join the conversation

    You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

    Add a comment...

    ×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

      Only 75 emoji are allowed.

    ×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

    ×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

    ×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Similar Content

    • By ©Jimi Wikman
      Almost every day I see someone posting about stress related illness. I meet people who I see are close to hitting the wall and burning themselves out on a regular basis and it makes me sad. Why do we struggle with this and for what purpose? How can you come back once you hit the wall and what do you do to come back?
      25 years ago I hit the wall. I burned myself out and spent a year in rehab. It was so bad that I once went to the store to buy milk, but had to stop halfway home and call a friend to drive me home. I lived 10 minutes from the store. This experience is one of the worst I have ever experienced and the effect of it will never go away.
      This is why I react when I see people do the same stupid thing as I did and work yourself to the brink of exhaustion. No one will ever thank you for getting burned out and the road back is very long indeed. The worst part is that it is almost impossible for anyone to understand the way getting burnt out feel, so it is hard to find someone to talk to.
      How to burn yourself out
      Working hard is not the same as burning yourself out. Working hard is for me how you should work. It is when working hard under constant negative stress happen you risk burning yourself getting burned out. The tricky part with this however is that everyone have different things we respond to with negative stress. This makes it hard to know when you are risking your health and when you are just working hard.
      Stress is when we trigger our natural defense mechanism called "fight-or-flight" or stress response. This is one of our strongest subconscious mental responses and as such it is often something we are not even aware of. In short it is the way our mind defend itself from harm. What we protect ourselves from varies from person to person and it is triggered differently in different people.
      You can for example be a person that handle chaotic environments such as restaurants well, but get stressed over meetings with authorities or economic problems. Other people can be very sensitive to uncertainties and require structure and order to avoid stress. Since this is individual it is very hard to know when you are hurting yourself from stress, or even what type of stress that is harmful. There are symptoms however that you can look out for to help you identify these types of issues
      These symptoms are borrowed from WebMD.
      Emotional symptoms of stress include:
      Becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody Feeling overwhelmed, like you are losing control or need to take control Having difficulty relaxing and quieting your mind Feeling bad about yourself (low self-esteem), lonely, worthless, and depressed Avoiding others Physical symptoms of stress include:
      Low energy Headaches Upset stomach, including diarrhea, constipation, and nausea Aches, pains, and tense muscles Chest pain and rapid heartbeat Insomnia Frequent colds and infections Loss of sexual desire and/or ability Nervousness and shaking, ringing in the ear, cold or sweaty hands and feet Dry mouth and difficulty swallowing Clenched jaw and grinding teeth Cognitive symptoms of stress include:
      Constant worrying Racing thoughts Forgetfulness and disorganization Inability to focus Poor judgment Being pessimistic or seeing only the negative side For me the most common symptom is low energy. I call this "the hole" as it feels like you are trapped in a dark hole mentally. I get this quite often and that is because of my duality in personality where I am both extrovert and introvert. That means that I spend a lot of energy being extrovert at work, but then I need time for reflection for my introvert side to balance that out.
      Not having enough time for reflection at work is one of the most damaging things you can have. This is why the word NO is so important as well as the ability to dedicate time for reflection. Many organizations adapt a policy called No Meetings Day, which basically locks time from being used for meetings. This is so time can be spent on work and focused reflection.
      I have a theory that the reason why so many poor decisions are made in organizations is because everyone is constantly running. With no time to reflect decisions are made in the fight or flight mode. The problem with that is that when you are in that mode you suppress your prefrontal cortex. This area of the brain is often referred to the "modern brain" since this is where our ability to plan and take long term decision. This area is also responsible for empathy, which is why some managers appear to be assholes.
      How to avoid getting burned out
      Balance you energy
      The first thing I suggest you do right now is to make a list of things that give you energy and what drain you of energy. This is your balance list. This list will help you understand how you are doing mentally and you should update this often in the beginning. For me for example it cost energy to go to parties and I gain energy from writing or watching movies. For you it can be that it give you energy to go to parties and it cost energy to write reports. It all depend on your personality and there are no right or wrong answers.
      Do you have time to do your work?
      The second thing you should do is to look at your work. Do you have enough time to do your job? If the answer is no, then you will burn yourself out sooner or later. This is why many people in stressful jobs jump between employers as the time constraint trigger the fight or flight response. You either get into conflict with your employer or you leave if the stress get to much. So if you are in a situation when time is not enough, then you should talk to your employer to reduce the workload. If that is not possible, then find new employment if possible.
      Do not forsake reflection due to social demands
      Thirdly, and this is mostly for my introvert peers out there, make sure you do not forsake reflection in order to be socially accepted. I know many introverts who feel obligated to go to parties or be social when they should spend time reflecting. This is especially problematic when you are young or when you invest heavily into social media. Do not be afraid to shut down, even if you feel that people think you are weird. You are not weird and everyone that actually matter will not only understand, they will support you in that decision.
      Reflect and listen
      This is important, because it is when you stop to reflect that you can see the signs of you being in danger of burning yourself out. For me I write things like this and as I write I reflect on my own state of mind. For you it can be a walk in nature, mindfulness or just having a cup of tea on the terrace. Also listen to what others are saying. If people ask if you are ok, then stop and reflect instead of instantly respond that you are ok. I actually had members of my team ask me this a coupe of years ago and it led to me taking a few days off as I was getting burned out
      What do I do if I burn myself out?
      Ask for help!
      This one is the most difficult one for many. Asking for help is for some strange reason considered to be a weakness, but it is in fact a strength. The ability to ask for help prevent many, many issues in life and I think it is also a prerequisite for personal growth. So do not be afraid to ask for help if you start to feel some of the symptoms above. Go talk to a doctor and also consider talking to a therapist as the injury you have sustained is a mental one. Only the symptoms are physical.
      Accept that you are injured
      Being burned out is not something you can "get over" or "snap out of". It is not you being lazy or weak. It is a mental injury as well as a physical one as your long term exposure of stress hormones have damaged your central nervous system. You need to treat this as a physical injury and by this I mean that you need to give it time to heal. Just as you would not keep running on a fractured leg you should not continue working in the same stressful way with a stress related injury. Let it take the time it need for you to heal.
      Talk to someone who understand
      This is extremely difficult to do, not just for you, but also for the people around you. Many who get burned out are people that naturally work very hard. To these people it is difficult to handle the situation as it conflict with their self image. As people around you do not understand and tell you to "get over it", that affect your self image even more. For this reason you should find someone to talk to who has been in the same situation as you have. Understanding that you are not alone and that this is not something you can just get over will help with those feelings.
      Fill up on positives and cut away all demands
      Nothings feels as heavy as having things that you must do. It can become paralyzing to the point of giving you panic attacks just to meet someone for coffee. So try to cut away on all things that you feel must be done and focus on things that fill you with energy. If you feel like meeting someone or doing something social, make sure that you give yourself a way out if needed. When I meet with people who have suffered a stress related injury I always tell them that if they need to cancel they just send a text. No explanations or excuses are needed. I also advice them to tell others that they are meeting that if they can not make it they will send a text and that they don't need a text back. Most people will understand that and it reduce a lot of the stress.
      Drugs is not the answer!
      When stress related injuries happen your instinct is to avoid the pain it brings. Most turn inwards naturally and avoid people to protect themselves. For some this is either not enough, or they can not handle the social demands. So they turn to drugs to take the edge of the pain and to hide from the world in a sense. An increase of substance abuse, regardless if it is alcohol or drugs is not actually helping however. In fact since your mind is already experiencing depression and low self esteem combined with a reduced capacity of your rational thinking adding drugs and alcohol will only increase the risk of self damage such as suicide.
      Know that you will be ok
      Depression often comes with stress related injuries. Self doubt and the sense of being worthless is common. These things can lead to thoughts of suicide as you see no way out of your situation. This is why it is important to get help early because no matter how bad your situation is and how deep into the darkest corners you find yourself I promise you that you will be ok. Just like all injuries they will heal in time and just like all pain it can become unbearable if you carry it alone. So ask for help and know that the pain you go through is temporary and will eventually fade. 
      You will be ok.
      Take care of yourself out there
      Getting burned out is becoming more common these days as we sacrifice empathy on the altar of efficiency. So take care of yourself and balance those energy levels. Talk about it often with friends and family and reflect on your current state of mind regularly.
      No one will ever thank you for working yourself into the wall. Surprisingly enough most people will appreciate you for saying no if you have to much to do. Saying no takes courage and it has nothing to do with weakness.
      You are an amazing person and you deserve a wonderful life. So take care of yourself and make sure you never hit that wall.
    • By ©Jimi Wikman
      Working on multiple projects at the same time is sadly a common experience for many of us working in IT. Many split their attention on at least 2 projects or responsibility areas. This comes at a cost however, not just for the person splitting their time, but also for the people they work with.
      Few lift an eyebrow at the mention that someone is in a project for as low as 20% these days. Sadly no one really bat an eyelash when a coworker break down mentally and get sick from the mental stress either. In my line of work as an IT consultant I often see people splitting their time and I see what it cost those persons as well as the projects they are doing their best to contribute to.
      Not to long ago I witnessed a co-worker taking a seat after lunch looking pale. A faded smile and assurance that he would join soon and just needed a moment to himself was followed by an ambulance taking him to the hospital. It took him a year to come back to work. More than once have I seen people pass out in a meeting and outbursts of anger and frustration for small things happen on a regular basis by even the most gentle and kind persons.
      What could possibly cause such extreme amounts of stress? The answer is that all of these people have suffered from extreme forms of content switching. As a human we need time to focus in order to make rational decisions. As the time to focus is interrupted we experience content switching. That is that moment when you are forced to go from one focused thought to another. This change of focus comes at a cost of mental energy and eveyone need a different amount of time to make the switch mentally.
      As a manager you do this a lot as part of your work. That mental flexibility and speed that you have as a manager serve you well to manage most situations. That is because the content switching is still within one context. When you need to split your attention on multiple context however the cost will increase exponentially and with time, you will build up negative stress. If you do not reduce that stress it will eventually cause physical harm and you will hit that famous wall head first.
      Other fields in IT have the same situation, but there is one group that suffer from this more than any other group: the developers. Developers unlike most other groups are focused oriented, mening that they spend more time in their own minds setting up structures and logical flows that create the code they write. Once interrupted it takes far longer to get back to their focused state of mind. Fortunately developers are less likely to work on multiple projects at the same time, but when they do the damage is more severe than for other groups. Designers have a similar situation, but have an easier time to make the mental switch.
      How to mitigate and avoid getting burned out
      Speed is everything, or so they make you think. Meeting after meeting where you jump from onte topic to the next in frantic speed. As you solve issue after issue with your quick and skilled mind you will experience a sense of accomplishment. This is because your brain reward you for it and it becomes an addiction. Soon you will crave it and like a junkie you will crave your fix even when you are off work. Eventually the rewards will not measure up with the cost and you will get frustrated and eventually have problem being happy. A sense of feeling empty and caught in a endless loop is your last warning before you bend the knee to the mental exhaustion and collapse.
      The price you pay fror strecthing yourself thin benefit no one as you break down. There are things you can do however to prevent this. Both as regular practices, but also as strategies and rules you set for yourself.
      Managers, Requirements & Business people
      Make time for focused work - As a manager or if you work in the Business area the biggest danger is having long periods without proper focus. Meetings and workshops take up much of your time, so make sure you dedicate at least 1 hour every day for focused work (no, not during lunch...). This is a time where you take time to be fully alone without distractions to focus on emails, power points and whatever else you have promised to do. This will naturally lower your stress levels and allow you a form of soft reboot. If this does not work, then dedicate a longer period 1-2 days a week. This can be that you work from home one day once a week or two half days for example.
        Turn off at the end of the day - The most common mistake managers do is that they never stop working. My suggestion is that you leave the computer at work if you can, or leave it in the bag when you get home. The same goes for the phone. make sure it is turned off as soon as you leave work, or at least as soon as you get home. If you are required to be reached every hour of they day, then you are constantly on stand by and never relaxed. Not only is this bad for your health, it is actually a legal issue as well in many countries as you are working over time. Stop doing that today!
        Say no or delegate - If you get asked to split your attention between multiple areas or you feel that thet area you are in charge of is becoming difficult to manage within your normal working hours, then you should say no or delegate.  Saying no is always difficult since most managers are driven by status or to help others. It s however a very useful skill to master and it will save you a lot of stress. Just make sure you say no for the right reason and not to avoid stepping out of your comfort zone, because that is actually a good thing.

      This is very hard in some cultures and if you feel that this is impossible, then find a way within the situation you find yourself. A trick that you can try is to promote people that work for you or offer to teach someone what you do. Just make sure you make sure the person you delegate to also have their regular workload reduced or you will burn them out instead.
        Never try to lead someone that is not fully commited - Having people in your team that split their time is a cause for much frustration. No matter how much time they dedicate to your project you will never get that time because of the cost of content switching. You will also find the moments when they are not working on your project, no matter how rare they are, to be annoying and inconvenient. My advice is to never try to lead anyone who is not fully commited to your project because of this.  
      Developers & Designers
      Never split your work - There are times when you might be asked to split your work and my advice to you is to say no. No matter what split you have you will never be able to dedicate 100% time between the two. Each split will cost you a lot of time just for switching between them and the mental toll will be far worse then you think. If you split yourself 50/50 you will do 40% in each project and you will work 120%. You will constantly feel stressed and that you do not do the work you are supposed to. It will eventually break you down mentally so never accept a split work situation.
        Avoid meetings if you can - Some meetings you need to attend, but try to avoid meetings that are not necessary. The reason is that a meeting, even if it is just 30 minutes long, will completely content switch you from your work. Unlike a short interruption that cost around 10-15 minutes of lost time a meeting will cost at least double that. Some meetings may be even more disruptive causing fragmentaion of thought for hours afterwards as you try to focus on work, but have the new information or task in mind as well.
        Take time to clarify things - The biggest issue for most developers and designers is unclear requirements and unclear expectations. If you take time to clarify things, then you will save a lot of time. That is because not only will you wate time trying to find answers, you also suffer from content switching. This can make a simple question cost hours of focused work. Everyone have different need when it comes to clarity so do not rush sprint startups, requirement sessions or technical architect forums. Make sure everyone in the team understand what to do and why. This way you can focus on working without having to find answers or explain things to other members of your team.
        Agree on work environments - All teams have different compositions. Some need a lot fo focus, others less. Make sure you define wht your team needs and agree on how you will work. I have had teams that work with the hand so they just put up the hand to let you know they are busy. This way you can signal that the person have to come back later as you are deep into something right now. If that is still to disruptive then use a hat or something that indicate this before you even approach teh developer. In some cases it can be a good idea to assign a team lead or project manager to handle all outside requests to further reduce disruptions. Whatever your team need, make sure it is defined and agreed upon by everyone.  
      Insert yourself into the information flow - As testers it is sometimes difficult to know what is going on. This is because testers can be seen as an external part of the development flow. This usually means test comes in long after requirements and development planning, which is not only stupid from a quality perspective, it is also cause for frustration and stress. As testers you should sign off on all requirements and you need to be on top of development and deploys. So if you are not included in the information flows you need to be in, then make sure that you are. This way you do not need to run around looking for information or work within an isolated workflow. If you do not, then you will constantly feel stressed and frustrated.
        Agree on bug flow with developers - As testers you should not sit and verify browser compability or standard flows. These should already be well tested by the developers. If this is not the case then you will feel that you are just writing bugs all days and no development ever get past test. This is a bad situation and you should make sure there is a proper definition of done that prevent this.

      When you find a bug you often want to discuss this with a developer. Doing so is disruptive however and I suggest that you set aside two slots every day where you can go over the defects with the team when it does the least damage. This can be done directly after the daily standup and directly after lunch as that is also when many teams collaborate on code reviews and so on. Just agree with the developers when and how you will go over the defects to ensure the impact is as small as possible.  
      These are just a few small tips on how to reduce stress and what the cost is for stretching yourself thin by splitting your attention between multiple projects. Most of these may be most relevant to a certain group, but most of them are valid for all groups. Content switching and bad work processes cost billions every day and they cause health issues that should not be underestimated.
      Stress related illness is increasing and in many fields you can name at least one or two persons that you work with that have suffered from being burned out. In Japan there is even a specific word for working yourself to death: Karoshi. So be wary of the many ways that you can harm yourself unintentionally. One good start to protect yourself is to never accept working on multiple projects at the same time.
      If you have more tips, please share to help others avoid getting burned out.
    • By ©Jimi Wikman
      As a manager you often work harder than anyone else in the team. Long hours, often after the workday has ended, or even weekdays sometimes, is unfortunately not uncommon. There are conflicts to be resolved and content switching that will make anyone exhausted. This is a sure way to burn yourself out if you let it and this is why it can be a good thing to take a voluntary demotion once in a while.
      This may sound like a terrible idea, but I have found that not only will a voluntary demotion renew your energy, it will reinvigorate your passion for the craft, update you with the latest changes to the craft as well as reconnect with the people you normally lead. It is also incredibly humbling to "step down" and I tend to feel a bit of relief as that fear of not being allowed to fail or loose my position goes away.
      For me I like to dive into the design part of my work. This is because I tend to spend time with test and requirements in my management role any way and I prefer to code with no pressure to deliver. I am also not very good with java script, which you pretty much must know inside and out these days.
      Design on the other hand is diverse and while the tools change over time, the fundamentals does not. The psychology behind stay the same, even if a few new studies may show interesting changes now and again. In no way is it as fast paced as the world of front end development or as complex as the testing the increasingly more complicated infrastructures of businesses today.
      It is also pretty much the opposite of management where you often feel that you have accomplished nothing at the end of the day. This is of course not true, but it's very hard to see concrete evidence of your work when you work with people all day. Design on the other hand is very obvious and it's amazing to see the things you can create using tools like Sketch or Photoshop.
      For me this works wonders to renew my energy and I try to add something like this in once every 2-3 years or so. It's usually short assignments, but that is just the way I like it. I did this for Svenska Färghus Gruppen that was even more amazing since I had two colleagues that were design leads and I was just a simple designer for a change. I learned a ton and had an amazing time, much thanks to my awesome collegues Victor Werning and Camilla Romander that took me under their wings.
      Currently I work  with ChessIT as a digital designer and again I am having a blast. I am diving into Sketch with new eyes as this is a time sensitive assignment so things must be done quickly. Creating dynamic symbols and font styles is key here. It's also locked down as the front end framework is already in place so I have to work within that constraint. It's a challenge and I am just loving the fact that even if it's fast paced I do not get stressed and I love every minute of it.
      As a side effect of taking these design assignments I not only get to be creative for a change, I also stumble upon new tools and work processes which is going to benefit me greatly in future management assignments. It is truly a win-win situation as I get renewed energy, feel happier and also grow my knowledge and understanding of design with hands on experience.
      I also get much needed time to reflect and I recently wrote about being caught in my own mental trap. This is that feeling where you fear loosing income or position because it would somehow make me less successful. It's a silly thought because position or level of income does not define your worth or your level of success. It also paralyze you and make you afraid of failing. As failing is the basis of growth and learning that lock you in a self imposed vacuum, which makes you miserable.
      So, if you have the opportunity to demote yourself then I suggest you take it. Take a step back and relive the passion that once led to the management position in the first place. Let go of your ego, release your fear of failure and once more become the student so you can grow, as a professional as well as an individual.
      I promise it will be worth it.
    • By ©Jimi Wikman
      I must admit that I am amused at the sheer number of posts that flood the Internet the last months that all revolve around how to make remote teamwork work. They all seem share one common thing and that is that they are written by, or for, managers. The thing is though that for most of us that work in IT this has worked for decades and it is for many of us a part of our daily routine.
      It is with a sad smile that I see the complete hysteria from middle and upper management when it comes to working from remote. It is as if the last 20 years of advancement in that area never actually reached this group. Their futile need for control and the withdrawal symptoms from not getting your daily meeting "fix" is in my eyes nothing new, but it becomes so very obvious in times of crisis.
      We see large organizations cutting away their workforce and while they try to trim away across the organization it is pretty obvious that it is people who are close to the consumers that suffer the most. Stores, restaurants, hotels and travel are all sadly on the brink of extinction. On the technical side of things we see less work as well, but not because the work is no longer needed, but because investments are more careful when the cash flow is less stable.
      We see an upswing for collaboration tools such as Miro and Trello while at least my daily feed is filled to the brink of articles on how to remain productive from remote. Most articles are so basic that I have to wonder who they are written for as most development teams have this as part of their daily work. Things like "focus on direct calls instead of chat" and "make sure your team know how to reach you" is utterly ridiculous however and in many articles I feel like I am being patronized and addressed like a five year old.
      Working from home is not something that should be strange or confusing in 2020. If you do not have work processes that work for that, then I would argue that you have been neglecting to evolve as an organization for a long time. To be a manager that are having problems functioning within a remote teamwork environment is not only a liability in this crisis, but for the foreseeable future. If you are having issues with that now, then I suggest you start looking into improving that right now. It is a skill that you must have in this day and age.
      The silver lining with this situation however is that many organizations now are forced to transform. We see it already that some larger organizations are reducing the middle management section for faster communication and more direct management. Meetings are heavily reduced, which is because many meetings at middle management levels are just to transfer information. In a remote workforce that is wasteful, so sharing information are done more efficiently.
      We also see how badly communication between business, IT and Operations are working. I don't think I have seen this many articles about DevOps or Incident Management in the last decade. I have seen a big upswing in Quality Assurance discussions, especially surrounding requirements and facilitating workshop on remote. Portfolio management is on the rise and I get more questions about Portfolio for Jira, BigPicture and Structure than I think I have ever had. Clearly people are in need of ways to get an overview of the work to satisfy their need for control.
      It is also interesting that I have not seen a single request for Jira Align...
      While business and management are in a bit of panic mode at the moment I see the opposite in the development and test areas. People are working well from home and I see productivity is skyrocketing. The pressure on management is increasing to get better requirements and improve communication, but as long as the development teams get the information they need, then they are golden it seems. I hear people are less stressed, better focused and I even hear that things like system stability and technical debt is getting a bit of focus lately.
      I hope that this crisis can lead to some change in management in the long run. Having more time to actually think and being forced to learn how to communicate more efficiently should benefit management greatly. Having the tools and processes to work from remote is a good way to future proof your organization. I also hope more managers will realize that working from home does not make you less productive. In fact it will greatly benefit some groups that not only can get more focused, but also can work when they are most productive.
      If you are a manager that are struggling with remote teamwork, then don't chase articles that give you platitudes and nonsense advice. Talk to your development teams instead. They most likely already have this in place for working from home or to collaborate with other teams or offshore. Take this opportunity to slow down, process the information and then communicate it clearly instead of just running all the time. If you lack the tools or infrastructure to work efficiently on remote, then invest in it now. It is a good investment, not just for a crisis like the current one, but also for meeting the future demands of the employees.
      Embrace Remote Teamwork, just like the rest of us did back in 2005. 😉
    • By ©Jimi Wikman
      So, one of your employees are leaving the company. Your first instinct is to kick them out as fast as possible and if something goes wrong you probably will not go out of your way to fix the situation. This is a terrible idea as you will make that person less inclined to talk well about you in the future!
      The employee have spent time in your company and they probably liked you when they started. Had hopes and dreams of what the time with you would be that either was not fulfilled or their dreams changed during the time with you.
      Unless you already screwed up your relation with the employee by being a bad company that care more about your spreadsheets than the heroes that work for you, then you have a great opportunity when someone leave. You can both learn how to be a better company and secure an ambassador that will work for you even after they leave the company!
      Leaving a company is usually done with relief if the time have been less than enjoyable or with guilt if it have been a great time. Regardless of what situation you can turn it to something good by simply being nice and support the employee. Just express that you are sorry that they are leaving and then go out of your way to make the transition as easy as possible for them.
      I am not saying that you should trip all over yourself to get rid of them, but take some time to sit down with them and go over what will happen next so they feel that you are there for them. Have lunch with them and have some laughs and reminisce about good times you hopefully have together.
      Ask them about the reason for moving on without trying to push the issue. Some people don't want to tell you their reasons so respect that. Most importantly if something during the transition to end the employment is causing issues for the employee, then fix it. Even if it is a cost involved and your instinct is to not spend money on someone that is leaving, take that cost because it is an investment!
      On that last day of the employment have a moment together with as many as you can to say goodbye to the employee. Show that you will miss the person and give a gift that really matter. Don't give them a book (unless they really like books), but give them something that is a little expensive, but still not to much.
      My favorite is an iPad mini in gold with an inscription on the back saying something like "We will miss you like crazy Name! - Company Name". It's a little pricy, but the value you get in return is worth a thousand times more. You can also add a little poster or something where everyone closest to the employee have written their names and a nice farewell message (personalized if possible).
      A former employee will talk about you, that is natural as you have been in their life for a while and work is the majority of our time after all. You can dictate how that conversation will go based on how the last few weeks are with your company.
      If you treat them well and go out of your way to show that they have been an important part of the company and that them leaving does not change your perception of them, then they leave with nothing but good will in their hearts.
      For as long as they can remember you they will speak well of you and if they should not be happy in their new workplace chances are that they will remember you and possibly ask to come back. Having that iPad means that every time they use it that feeling will be reinforced as well and most people do use the iPad quite a bit.
      There is an old saying that say that even if you have had the best vacation in your life with the best hotel, great weather and the best time of your life, all it takes is a bad experience on the flight home to ruin the experience. The last experience is what we remember most.
      So if you give an employee a bad experience leaving the company, or worse screw them over so they get mad they will speak of that forever. As they know inside information about your company they will speak loudly to anyone that listen about every little detail you make look bad and sooner or later that will cost you business for sure.
      So treat your employees well while they work for you so they don't want to leave and should they still want to leave, make it the best experience possible. In return you will have someone that will speak well of you and they will defend you long after they have left your company.
      It's the smart, and right, move to make.
  • Create New...