Are you a clock-watching boss or an output-driven leader?

If you manage IT teams, you’ll get better results with the latter; here’s why.

All roles in IT are knowledge workers, they don’t count widgets on a conveyor belt, and they know more about their job than you do. The programmer is the most extreme example of this and counting their hours will dramatically reverse productivity. I’ve written here about the various roles in IT and the type of people that get into each one. [1st paragraph of 5]

The article “How to destroy programmer productivity” illustrates that you cannot time-box the activity of writing code. Although software development is based on structured, mathematical logic it’s much more of a creative, wildly expressive art form. Your team are the artists; Da Vinci had 20 minute naps every 4 hours, don’t expect a top developer to clock in at regular times each day. [2/5]

Certainly, many large organisations have strict policies about minimum working hours. This is where you as the leader have an important role to play – and managerial discretion to apply. Don’t be a clock-watching boss, conquer The Innovator’s Dilemma and shield your team from the cold, dead hand of bureaucracy. A good example is the codeFest held recently at a large South African bank. [3/5]

Counting the number of hours spent on a project might be a way of recovering costs but it is not an output of software development. “Working software is the primary measure of progress” according to the principles of Agile software development which also emphasize leadership traits such as trust and support. Create the environment that enhances productivity of knowledge workers and then let them get on with it. [4/5]

My team know that I don’t bat an eyelid if someone packs up at 2pm on a Friday afternoon, or arrives at 10am in the morning. Their output – working software – is far more important, which we measure with effective performance management. Anyway, they might have been up half the night to complete a release; I prefer they get home to their family rather than sit at the office and watch the clock. [5/5]

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