A friend on facebook asked how, as a new manager, she could make change to processes and procedures when her staff was resistant. I liked my answer so I figured I'd crosspost it here.
Before settling back into development I spent a lot of time working as a development manager. My major role and speciality was going to teams working in “cowboy mode” and enforcing some discipline (version control for source code, change control, proper documentation, etc). It’s always a tough sell to get teams to do “extra work” when they won’t see the benefits until months or years down the road. The arguments are always the same:
- We always did it this way (so let’s do it better)
- It’s faster this way (until there’s a problem down the road and we can’t figure out how he got here)
- I have too much to do already (let’s look at your current responsibilities and figure out a way to realign things so you can do this)
- We’ll get less done (quality over quantity)
- Choose one project. One that will have a measurable impact and have them implement it. Explain the benefits up front. Let them know it’s not optional, apply a little force if you have to.
- Hold their feet to the fire over deadlines, even if you need to shift their other responsibilities.
- Once done sell them on the results (“We did X and now you have 10% less work” or “We’ve gone from having 1 crisis a week to 1 crisis a month” or “We got all these customer (subscriber) kudos because we did Y”).
- Get senior management to recognize the accomplish to your employees directly. They should thank them and not you. This step may involve you writing an email congratulating your staff in the senior manager’s voice and having the manager send it out from their email.
- Celebrate the accomplishment with lunch, drinks or a roman orgy.
- Repeat (now that you’ve established some credibility it nay be easier).