Team Contributions,

The Dangers of Distraction (Part 2)

In which Craig the developer drops some poignant knowledge bombs on Oscar the PM. We also learn Shakira's music doesn't lend itself well to productivity.

“Hips Don’t Lie” or “Knowing Your Team”

In which Craig drops knowledge bombs on the mind of Oscar, and talks about optimal work times for each developer. 

Dear Oscar the PM,

First of all, have you seriously not watched Westworld? I mean… I guess that’s not weird but… Seriously?

Secondly, and most importantly, thanks for reaching out. Too many project managers don’t take the steps to begin a dialogue with developers to try and make things better.

In answer to your question, No you are not doing anything wrong. As a project manager you check all the boxes needed for us to work on projects and complete our tasks. You engage the client in all communications, you never commit to a feature without first checking with us, and you know enough about the team to know who should be working on what tasks.

The “weird vibe” you are getting from the developers is most likely due to the 3:30pm “Shakira Time”. And while I share the opinion you brazenly wrote on the conference room whiteboard: “There is never a bad time for Shakira”, some of the developers find it distracting when you walk through the office playing “Hips Don’t Lie” from your phone.

Developers aren’t like PM’s. We don’t switch to something else every 45 minutes, and it takes us a while to ramp into the task we have on our plate. Every time a dev is distracted from his work, you can safely assume you have lost about an hour of development. We focus on one thing at a time, and our job is hard. We build complex things, and devote so much of our brainpower to the task at hand that when we are torn from our objective it takes a bit for our brains to get back to where we were. It’s like being 4 steps away from solving a rubik’s cube then someone mixes it all up again when you’re not looking. To put it simply distractions are the bane of a dev’s existence.

Being considerate of a developer’s time and when their “optimum work time” is, is one of the best things you can do to maximize our effectiveness. Stacey, for example, is at her absolute best around 9:30 am. She gets in at 9, checks her emails for about 5 minutes and then according to her it’s “headphones on and Cradle of Filth time”. I’m pretty sure that’s a band… I really hope it’s a band…

Bernard, however, writes his best code at about 4pm. Once he gets going, he’s almost unstoppable and I’ve seen him slam out 15 template integrations in a matter of hours. Sure, some of that may be the 27 energy drinks he’s drank throughout the day… The point is, every developer has a period of time when they’re “in their zone” and to maximize a team’s effectiveness, a great PM should know when those times are and protect them.

Hopefully this helps ease any tension you may notice between yourself and the team. I would encourage you to reach out and check with each developer to see when their “zone time” is, and ensure that even Shakira doesn’t distract them during that time.

Hope this helped!

Sincerely,

Craig the Developer

Conclusion

As a PM it is important to keep the following things in mind throughout the lifespan of a project:

  1. A ten minute distraction for a developer, is potentially an hour of lost work.
  2. Knowing your team’s “prime dev time” and protecting them from distractions during that time, can be a huge move towards coming in under budget.
  3. As a Project Manager, reaching out to your team to address concerns, and to have open discussion on what can improve from within the team is appreciated from both sides (PMs and Devs).
  4. Cradle of Filth is an actual band.
digital