As a manager you have plenty of work coming in, in many cases more than you or the team can handle. This incoming work needs to be regularly triaged and evaluated for whether it is important and continues to align with your team's goals or whether it should be stopped or avoided.
What is the goal of a Software Development Manager?
- Meet Deliverables
- Maintain Team Health
- Maintain Product (or codebase) Health
- Prepare the Team for the Future
- Triage Incoming Work/Communicate Risks (a.k.a establish a reasonable workload)
The Eisenhower Principle - Effective Time Management
- One of the management themes above
- One of your deliverables (yes, this is duplicated as the last item in the themes, but worth calling out separately since these often have timelines associated with them)
- Something your boss cares about - before you decide something is not worth doing, think about how your boss would feel if that work wasn't done: side-requests from marketing, cleanup of old records requested by another team, etc. If your boss wouldn't care if that gets dropped, you probably don't need to worry about doing it.
Work In Order: 1, 2, 3, 4If you follow the Eisenhower principle, you'll work first on the aligned items 1 then 2, and then the less important items 3, then 4. Yes, this means that improving your build times beats out those last minute side requests from other teams. Improvements are often overlooked because of deadlines, but if we allow ourselves time to improve regularly, we'll be able to get a larger payback than the original investment making the team faster and stronger in the process.
Gracefully Say No
- When a product or program manager asks for extra work, you could ask what work can be removed to accommodate the new request (very typical in a sprint/Agile setting). New work isn't free and you can't just keep squeezing more work out of a team without something giving. Ask what can be pushed back. If there isn't anything, maybe that request isn't needed right now.
- If it's a request from another team that doesn't align with your teams goals, maybe this work could be coordinated into a deliverable so at least the work is accounted for in a planned way as opposed to being taken on as an unexpected side request. It also might be good to examine why your being asked to do work that doesn't align with the team's goals.
- If keeping documents or statuses up to date is a problem maybe there is someway to automate the process or make it more efficient so those extra clean-up efforts are no longer needed.