Self-Awareness Matters: Finding Your Filters

I remember sitting in a project meeting back when I worked for a Big Company. The project manager, Ted, announced the top three priorities.  When I offered a different view point, Ted declared, “You’re wrong. We decided on these priorities yesterday.”  He didn’t notice six out of eight people at the table  shaking their heads…

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Yes. No. Negotiate.

Many people are conditioned to say Yes to every request that comes their way. I met a CIO like that. He told me his policy was to never say No to the business. So he always said Yes, and the business was always angry because things he agreed to didn’t get done, or got done…

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Fill in the blanks

I’ve been noticing what’s missing lately. In some ways, its harder to see what’s not there than what is. But there’s lost of useful information in what isn’t said, as well as what is. For example: A manager, talking about one of the people who reported to him said: “He’s difficult to manage.” What’s missing?…

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There’s I(ntelligence)Q, and then there’s I(nfluence)Q

People who work in software are smart people who take pride in their abilities to understand complex information and solve difficult problems. But much of the work isn’t only about smarts. Creating most software requires the help and cooperation of other people. Telling, convincing, and winning arguments won’t work to bring people along, change their…

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Entering Groups

Most of the time, people integrate into groups well enough that we don’t really notice how it happens.  But a recent rocky experience got me noticing. Looking back over several teams I’ve observed and groups I’ve been part of, here are three (rather spectacular) examples of a newcomer failing to integrate. *** A skilled XP…

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Peer-to-Peer Feedback

One of the traps people fall into on teams is withholding information that’s critical for the team to function. Sometimes the information is about friction between team members. When team members don’t have a way to talk about small frictions, they turn in to big events, damage relationships and spill over onto the team.  So…

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Are You Ready to Coach?

Agile coaches are expected to help teams learn agile methods, engineering techniques, and improve the productivity of the teams they work with.  But before they can do they need to be ready to coach.  Being ready to coach means that you have coaching skills, relevant technical and process skills. But the  foundational skill in coaching…

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Should a manager know a language? Yes. One that enables communication with people.

When I talk to people about making the transition from technical work into a management role, one of the recurring questions is whether managers need to know a language. There are strong opinions on both side of the argument: On one side, people say: “You must know a language if you are to understand the…

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Dealing with “Difficult” Co-workers

We all have coworkers who rub us the wrong way, get on our nerves, and generally drive us crazy. Let’s consider these examples of three people who have difficult coworkers: 1. Ted finished working on a difficult bit of code and headed for the team meeting. When he got there, Sandy looked at her watch…

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4 Tips for Getting Your Ideas Accepted

A good idea is a valuable asset, and a lot of good ideas are a treasure trove. But what do you do with those ideas? Here’s a little story about an idea maker who isn’t very good at getting his ideas accepted…and 4 tips to keep your own ideas from withering on the vine. ***…

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