miércoles, 2 de agosto de 2017

How To Spot and Spark Flow

by @uicynthia Track and Facilitate Your Engineers’ Flow States In This Simple Way | First Round Review

‘The more a job inherently resembles a game — with variety, appropriate and flexible challenges, clear goals, and immediate feedback — the more enjoyable it will be regardless of the worker’s level of development.’ ~ Csikszentmihalyi

Perhaps more important than recognizing flow, then, is recognizing its absence. Typically, engineers who fall out of flow will land in one of three common ruts:
Apathy — Low Skill and Low Challenge
Maxwell looks for one big red flag to spot this one: a consistent failure to chime into the conversation. An apathetic team member offers no suggestions about product features or team processes. They don’t share an opinion of job candidates, and try to avoid weighing in on ideas when asked. “It's almost as though they're hoping they don't get called on,” she says. “They're not being challenged, and they don't care.”
Managers at larger companies in particular may need to look out for one specific type of apathetic employee: “Rester Vesters” or people who just phone it in until their stock options fully vest.

Anxiety — Low Skill and High Challenge

When someone is pushed to tackle challenges their skill set can’t accommodate — or at a pace that isn’t feasible — anxiety is an understandable outcome. Maxwell urges leaders to keep an ear out for telltale anxiety-based phrases, and know how to translate them.
“Listen for things like, ‘Oh, this is a speculative fix,’ or ‘I wouldn't normally do things this way, but given the time constraints…,’” she says. “People who are feeling anxiety might also start blaming others for not meeting a deadline. Or they may say, ‘I have too much on my plate right now.’"

Boredom — High Skill and Low Challenge
“Usually people will fall into boredom because their skillset has increased. They've taken a leap forward, they’ve learned a lot. Maybe they just shipped something or conquered an obstacle, and now they don't feel like they're being challenged,” says Maxwell.
A bored engineer is usually executing the same tasks again and again, finishing them quickly and then spinning their wheels waiting for a new assignment. “Boredom might manifest as resentment over how projects are being assigned across the team,” says Maxwell. Keep an eye out, too, for anyone who creates unnecessary projects, or over-engineers simple problems, just to flex underused muscles. “If you see an increase in exotic, latest-and-greatest libraries entering your codebase, you might have a bored team.”

Between The Extremes

Of course, human emotion — like human workplaces — is complex, and people will likely spend some portion of their time moving between states. Those periods of transition, as someone moves out of flow in one direction or another, can be particularly impactful times to guide employees back toward flow:

Doubt — From Flow Toward Anxiety
When someone takes on greater challenges, without expanding their skill set to meet them, it’s logical that they would begin to experience self-doubt. In these cases the person suspects they’re lacking the skills to achieve the task. They might start to take offense to otherwise harmless code reviews. Or get stuck in analysis paralysis. They might spend a lot of time seeking advice from senior developers.
Left unchecked, the danger is that doubt becomes infectious. Engineers in this state may begin to not only doubt the value of the project but their leadership team, too. “They may begin to think, ‘Are they making good decisions? Have they put us in an unreasonable timeline? Are they asking us to do something that's just not possible?’" says Maxwell.
When you see reports plotting themselves on the graph in this direction, encourage them to speak up about any concerns they’re having. Simply acknowledging those feelings of doubt can be the fastest way to move back into flow. “One good rule of thumb is think smaller. That means breaking a task into smaller parts to build up confidence. Or celebrating smaller wins than you would otherwise,” says Maxwell. “If that fails, they may need some scaffolding. Get the person in a pair-programming situation so the world doesn’t feel like it’s resting only on their shoulders. As the person regains confidence, introduce more independent work.”

Nostalgia — From Flow Toward Boredom
The move toward boredom typically follows a period of skill-building; the engineer no longer feels challenged because they’ve grown. Falling out of flow in that direction is often marked by feelings of nostalgia. “They want to recreate what it felt like to be in flow, and they don't know exactly how,” says Maxwell.
There’s a hopefulness to this moment, though. A person experiencing nostalgia doesn’t want to be bored; they want to recapture the feeling of learning and growing. And that’s prime material for a manager looking to coax that engineer back into a productive state. “Help them identify what they’re nostalgic for. For example, is it the size of the team, or the ambition of the project?” Work with them to recreate the conditions they’re missing, while they’re still fresh in their mind.
The best managers will use every tool at their disposal to understand what’s going on within their teams, including, of course, their own observations. But while looks are famously deceiving, quantitative assessments are more concrete. In many cases, giving your team an objective way to articulate dissatisfaction is the only way to uncover important trends.

No hay comentarios: