January 12, 2006 spout

PM Skill #4: Exhibiting the Behavior You Want

At our last team milestone, we had stepped up the pace in the last two weeks to make sure that we were done in time for a demo by one of our internal stakeholders (demoing your stuff is a wonderful way to communicate, but having other folks build on your stuff to demo their stuff is even better [so long as they remember to mention your stuff]). When we decided to step up the pace, I let everyone on the team know that I was available 24/7 until the demo, providing all my contact numbers. I was actively working on a chunk of the implementation, so I would send out status and check-in mails whenever I had completed something, often in the middle of the night or early in the morning (I didn’t get much sleep for those two weeks). When folks had questions, I was there to answer them, day or night. I was working long and focused hours and I was making good progress against my goals to meet the deadline for the demo.

In other words, while I never once asked the team to double their work efforts, once we’d all agreed to meet the shortened deadline, I stepped up my pace, let them know I’d stepped up my pace and expected them to do the same. This is the same no matter what behavior you want, whether it’s working long hours (only temporarily, though, else you’ll burn out your team), showing up to meetings on time or getting powered sugar on your keyboard. Some individual members of your team may not change their behavior, but they definitely won’t if you’re not willing to.