How to 10x your team (Part 1)
As a manager, you are constantly striving for delivering more output. There are good ways of going about obtaining more output from your team, and there are bad ways about it. In my opinion, there are 4 key inputs into total team output:
- Output of each individual on your team
- Team Execution
- Prioritization of tasks
Let’s dive into each one in more detail. For this article, we’ll talk about #1 and #2.
Growing individual output
How do you get everyone on your team to produce more output? There are right ways of going about it and wrong ways. What is definitely wrong is making people sit in their seats and work longer hours for the sake of working. You’re probably going to:
- Make people feel like shit
- Get people to not do their best work because you’re forcing them into code monkeys and probably get them to not think but just do
- Make people quit
Part of being a manager is to grow each individual on your team to their fullest potential. When you hire ambitious and inquisitive folks, you need to figure out how to align the business goals with their passion and interest. The right way in my opinion is to grow each individual to be able to do more, and when each person can do more better, you will get more output. What I ask my folks is “Where do you want to be in 6 months and how can we get you there in 2–3 months?”.
Here are some examples:
- Let’s say we have a mobile engineer that wants to learn backend development. This is great for the company and means that he can do a feature end to end by himself and speed up execution. This is great for the engineer as he will be able acquire a new set of skills. All that needs to happen is a plan. In this case, what backend bugs/features should the engineer work on? Who is the engineer’s mentor? When should the engineer work on these features? (hopefully during work hours, and the engineer will be able to mobile development at home or anywhere else)
- Another one of my engineers is an amazing executor and wants to learn how to solve problems and not just ship features. She wants to learn how to think about what should be worked on. I pointed her to an area that we hadn’t done much thinking nor analysis on, and asked her to commit an hour a day to thinking through problems and coming up with a plan of attack and analysis to back it up. In return, she should spend some time later in the day to build out her features.
One of the most common reasons that people leave a company is that they don’t feel like they’re growing. As a manager, you’re trying to get your team to execute and make business impact. Instead of just slave driving your team to do the only thing they know how to do, spend some effort in growing them and you will find that output will grow (and they’ll be happier also!).
Team execution is extremely important. The definition of team is loose here on purpose, as we need to constantly think about inefficiencies in different parts of the organization.
- How efficient is the engineering team in your business unit?
- How efficient is the pod? (including designers, PM, operations)
- How efficient is the entire engineering team as a whole?
- How efficient do different business units work with each other?
Some examples of inefficiencies are:
- Design not working well with engineering. Design deadlines slipping, causing engineers to have to rush to hit deadlines, or not much interaction through the design process leading to some disconnects in the final product.
- Not documenting early experiments and learnings, so that every team ends up re-implementing similar experiments and forced to learn themselves.
Any time you add or remove a team member, it’s important to re-evaluate how the affected team is doing and how we can improve how the team works.
One of the biggest inefficiencies is information asymmetry. In order to combat this, it’s important to make sure that information gets widely circulated and knowledge is documented thoroughly and updated properly. It’s also important to create an index as you have more documents ;).
It’s fine for every team to have their preferred method of documenting analysis, ideas, etc. At Doordash, we use Dropbox Paper, Google Drive, Github wikis, and our own custom wiki. It’s important to make sure that any new person would know where to look for for more information!
I’ll write about prioritization and innovation soon. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you do to constantly improve the output of your team! Feel free to comment here, or send me an email at [first name] @ gmail.com.