I have good days and not-so-good days. I’ll bet you do too. My good days are the ones that leave me feeling a sense of accomplishment. That happens when I get something done — finished, not just “worked on”. My bad days are the ones that leave me wondering what I did all day.
You see, it’s not simply a matter of being busy. I have a lengthy backlog of work — more than I will likely ever finish because it seems to arrive faster than I can finish it. I’m always busy but I crave more. I need to be done. I need to finish stuff.
If you’re like me in this regard, and I suspect you are, your job satisfaction and productivity have a direct relationship to how much work you get done — that’s finished, acabado, fini, finito, fertig, consumandam. How often do you hear people bragging about what they spent time on? Rarely, right? They brag about what they accomplished. What they completed. What they got done!
We all need more good days. People are energized by finishing. We derive job satisfaction from finishing a major task — accomplishing something of value. All of us should be finishing something significant every day — every single day.
Another Reason Why Waterfall Doesn’t Work
That’s a huge problem for software developers in traditional development organizations. They are forced to spend days, sometimes weeks, working on documents and diagrams. After all that work, they’re forced to wait for some bureaucratic approval process to complete — it’s hurry up and wait all over again. Or, they may be forced to summarize the documentation in a PowerPoint presentation and deliver it to a committee. As each day passes, ‘just shoot me now’ becomes more and more appealing.
Productivity declines. Output volume shrinks. Quality suffers. Managers are oblivious because people appear to be busy as progress is being recorded in weekly status reports.
The secret to better morale, improved productivity, and superior results is unbelievably simple. Let your teams finish something. Note the word ‘finish’. I didn’t say “do something”. I said “finish something”! Stop creating busy work. Dump the approval cycles. Remove the impediments.
In addition, when your team needs something from you such as an approval or an upgraded development tool, make it happen. You’re putting a lot of pressure on the team and some of that pressure will push back on you. It’s only fair that you respond quickly.
Improving morale isn’t brain surgery. It’s common sense. To create more good days define simpler accomplishments, remove impediments and get out of the way.