Team Management: Fitness 101

I have been leading teams for years and changing my management and leadership patterns over the course. It’s very difficult and confusing. Having read a lot of articles and books, I made some simple discoveries and patterns which I can effectively follow no matter how busy I am. That’s how the idea of “Fitness 101” came.

The basic problem is when you pay people, you need to get some work in return. Now getting something in return is really difficult if the job is not purely mechanical. There have been many strategies to get the best out of creative people, in my case, software engineers. Each strategy requires a definite set of skills, time, and management people. So, a very successful strategy may not work effectively in a team which cannot meet the prerequisites of it. So, strategy depends on what you have. It’s like a recipe. You gotta your dish to better use the ingredients you have.

So, the idea is

  1. First,  help your team members harness their talents.
  2. Second, to encourage them to give something in return, give them
    • a reason
    • or a reward
    • or a reason and a reward

Background

Before going into details, I want to explain how I came up with it. In my long tenure, I have seen people with different talents. Conventional incentives and punishment fail badly because most of these people cannot even control and gear their own talents. I have seen it like hundred times and I also tried classical approaches, motivational approaches, and most did not work for me because I spend a lot of time alone doing my own work. So, the first problem I found is related to their inability to utilize their own potential.

Secondly, I found myself busy with my own dreams, studies, and love for creative works. So, I could not give my full time to the team members. So, I needed some way to automate them.

I have been feeling these two problems for a long time. So, the idea kind of dawned on me itself.

Fitness 101

So, when people are able to harness their talents, they can choose where they are gonna use it and they can stick to it. This article is about the first part of the idea – Fitness. I watch football. I found that without fitness, even the best players cannot perform on the pitch. By fitness, I mean physical and mental fitness, and their inter-dependency. To make people fit, you need to create new habits, modify old habits, induce clarity, and help them to find goals in life.

Now, fitness comes in many forms, and it depends both on individuals and team composition. So, I arranged my fitness goals into two distinct categories:

  1. Individual fitness
  2. Team fitness

For example, I wanted my team members to type smoothly and fast. So, I had the rule to type for 15 minutes on a website first thing in the morning until they get 60 WPM. It fell into both categories of fitness, and had three advantages:

  1. When typing is effortless, they can concentrate on their work and lose less energy ( both physical and mental ). When you need to see the keyboard, you are actually multi-tasking.
  2. It gave the whole team a sense of rhythm and oneness. The whole team doing the same thing. I did not encourage them to compete and hit a very high speed, which is antithetical to team spirit. Rather the goal was simple 60 WPM.
  3. It gives them a quick reward because they can see the progress in every few days.

I encouraged,

  • walking and talking before lunch,
  • talking about short-term goals in every single stand-up meeting in the morning,
  • table tennis in the morning!
  • goal sessions
  • counting calorie intake
  • easy exercises
  • team library
  • etc.

Every single thing we did came through lots of discussions and passing time together with the team. I will write about each of them whenever I get time. I had the drive to make them better, self-geared, and responsible. Because, when they are, I would not need them to push them. And people grew different sets of habits through this process and each of them contributes, though in different ways, automatically. I can sleep at home. My main job is no more track the work progress, it is to track their fitness level 😉

BTW, nothing will work until you believe in it and do it yourself first and show people that it works (power of social proof)

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