If you are a senior developer, it is your responsibility to ensure that your team members stay on track to complete their assigned tasks, whilst also being in a positive and encouraging state of mind.
Actions speak louder than words. We've all heard this quote before, but how many of us actually take this seriously?
We've all met someone who makes promises without any intention of keeping it, in fact you've mostly likely unintentionally done the same.
Jerry is a member of your development team. A junior developer with a lot of promise, during meetings he always contributes amazing ideas and brings forth great energy; however, when asked to do solid work, he always slacks off, coming to work as late as possible, and leaving on the dot. You're aware that Jerry has the potential to do amazing things, but his actions aren't mirroring his words.
Why is that?
There definitely can be something happening in his personal life that is causing this disconnect. However, let's assume for the sake of this article that Jerry consistently shows this type of behaviour for weeks and months on end.
Why is that?
I'm here to share the (possibly controversial) opinion that Jerry isn't lazy. In fact, no one is lazy. The only reason he appears lazy (i.e. there is a disconnect between his words and his actions) is because he feels comfortable within a company culture that encourages and rewards ideas without action.
The company culture can involve explicitly stated elements (e.g. "we wear formal attire to work every day"), but in many cases it is implicitly stated (e.g. as the technical lead, by coming in first and leaving last, you're fostering a culture of over-achievement).
You realise that ideas are commonly being put forth in standup meetings, by Jerry and also by others, but they’re not being objectively evaluated, recorded and assigned accordingly, and that as a result, Jerry isn't realising the importance of delivering features on time.
You realise that although Jerry is displaying the most obvious symptoms of this issue, your whole team seems to be living in some degree of disconnection between their words and their actions.
You take action and decide to make it a note to include the development team in your next planning meeting with the technical lead, so that they can see the business implications of their actions/non-actions. By doing so, the entire team is able to see what needs to be done.
Specifically for Jerry, you organise some one-on-one planning time each sprint, not only to go through scheduling for his work, but also as a good opportunity to catch up and build rapport. Jerry responds well to this indirect counselling, and his performance quickly improves, making him not only a wonderful fountain of ideas, but also a hard worker who is an invaluable asset to the company.
"If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself."
– Henry Ford
Thanks for reading! What do you guys think? Do you have any similar stories?