Have you ever been in a situation like this? I’m solving a critical problem. The problem is so vital that I physically feel how heavy it is. I already feel like running out of time and ready to cut corners to have it done. Bang, one of my colleagues, brings something new to consider for the topic.
In this situations, I often feel what I call importance or urgency. I think something like “Damn, I wish I do it along. It would be done by now already!” It’s such a mixed feeling of weakness, anger, a strong desire to dismiss my colleague and to continue with what I was doing on my own.
Right, sometimes it’s good to do my task along but is it the most efficient way of working in a team? We form groups to achieve more than we could do as individuals. There is no need for a team effort when I do a trivial task that anybody else can do. Although I often see when somebody takes ownership of some area, and after time he becomes the only expert in the field. Then the whole team becomes dependent on one person. Poor guy feels growing pressure but can do nothing about it. Because he is the only one who can do this job, there is no time to share the responsibility and burden keeps growing. Do you recognize this pattern in your team?
Talking about software development, I see this often happening with test automation. It’s common that one test automation engineer is carrying on the whole test suite. Another example would be an expert in some other discipline. Let’s take deployment automation. A new engineer joins my team. She automates local development environment on the first day. Thanks to her we have continuous integration and deployments. The only problem is that nobody else can do this job and she feels an urgency to do more on her own because of a big pile of essential tasks on her shoulders.
Urgency is an essential attribute of many production-related problems. When there is a customer on the line, and the pressure is on there is a lot of need to find a solution quickly. What I see often happens is that people start acting without giving a good thought and having a structured discussion as a team. Although precisely at this moment we have to function efficiently as a group more than in any other situation. Think about it. I’m on my own when I have a plan, and my colleagues are not aware of my intentions. If something goes wrong, there is nobody to support me. There is nobody to help me with execution. There is nobody who could try something else.
Well, suppose I die hard. I can handle all the problems myself. All is good, and I’m a winner. How would the issues be solved when I go for a honeymoon party to Bali? Would I feel better being a winner along or with my team?
Urgency helps to solve immediate problems by sacrificing long-term values. Skipping people in favor of immediate needs ruins relationships and creates an unhealthy environment for the future. I hope my experience would help you to avoid mistakes like depictured above and to detect the “urgency mode” to become a better team player.
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