Tuesday, March 18, 2014

once again I wield my iron fist of command.

I've had a tumultuous time at work, this past eight months. A variety of interlocking issues make it feel like a less-than-great fit, and that was sort of a constant stressor until recently, when I decided to just accept the situation and relax. It's not such a bad thing to not be working at 100% capacity.

As usual when I settle down and accept reality before trying to change it, within a few days it made sense for me to take over as the team's "scrum master," to take on most of the organizing work. This took a load off a teammate who had been doing it for 18 months, under quite trying circumstances (and without any guidance). This coincided happily with a sudden "Hey, can you guys write a whole ton of software for us to demo for thousands of people in 6 weeks?" fire drill from the Powers That Be: a sudden need for particularly team leadership, and a particularly good team leader.

Telling people you're a very good team lead is a little like telling people you're a very good kisser. It may be true in your case, but enough people believe it about themselves, and are wrong, that no one's really going to believe you until you do it. It happens that I am both a good team lead and a good kisser, though Anna made me take the latter off my resumé.

24 hours later, the team's manager noted that our tasks were better organized, and the four of us on the team were communicating more often and more fluidly in the chat room we use. In a way, I didn't do very much: so much of leadership is just being an information traffic cop, making sure that person A waits to talk until person B is actually listening, asking "Hey, can you jump in on this other thing with Person C?".

This is very difficult if the team is looking to someone else for their cues, whether it's a "team lead" as such or just a scrum master. (We don't really have team leads, which is one of our many organizational problems.) We might have all been happier if I'd taken over this job a couple months ago.

The managers are being very kind and making sure I'm not overloaded, but the truth is that this is the first thing I've done at this job that I'm particularly good at. After my previous team of 9 people, with a dozen conflicting priorities and several constituencies, a team of 3-4 with simple priorities is easy.

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