Managing a Product Design team in today’s high-pressure business environment isn’t easy. You have schedules (we hope) and you need your team to stay on track and perform to ensure your product gets completed.However, every team has its own (how do we say this nicely?) “personalities.” We’ve identified the four types of team members that can bring the whole office down while silently, efficiently killing your project.
Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the Complainer, the Stickler, the Slacker, and the Rock Star.
Here are four ways to keep them performing and your sanity in check.
The Complainer hates everything. The weak coffee. The strong coffee. The walls. You. (Yeah, that’s right, you.) They generally do a good job, when they stop complaining long enough. The biggest problem with the Complainer is their bad attitude can poison the whole team.
Tip: Stop listening. They’ll stop complaining. Like a wacky urban attention-seeker (you know, the spray-painted robot break-dancing on a street corner), if there’s no audience, they’ve got nothing. Time permitting, schedule a regular but brief one-on-one so you can be in-person audience. Hopefully they’ll spend less time complaining to everyone else on your team.
For the Stickler, there’s only one way: their way. Sometimes their strict adherence to process and attention to detail are exactly what you need. But mostly? It’s just whining. Loud, terrible nit-picky, nails-on-chalkboard, whining.
Tip: Give them something to do (that will also help your project move along). The Stickler needs to feel a sense of control. Other than confining them to the broom closet (possible option, by the way), find a part of the project you know they’ll be good at, and ask them to improve your design team’s process. It won’t stop them from sticklin’ but at least they’re focused on one task and thankfully not testing the team’s sanity.
Every team has the Slacker. They’re talented, smart, but only work at 80 percent when you need your team to be at 100. When they do put that Star Wars comic book down or stop reading Gizmodo they shine. The challenge is getting them to perform when you really need them, because their bursts of energy never align with your scheduling needs.
Tip: Avoid harshing their mellow and help them stay on track. They need it. There are real deadlines and fake deadlines. Assign a deadline two week’s out – they’ll deliver every time. They might even stop taking naps, er, breaks, in the break room.
Rock stars. You either love them or, well, yeah, you love them. And they know it. They’re smart, capable, flexible, reliable, never complain, and get the job done. So, what’s the problem? They start to notice that others in the office aren’t giving it 100% (“Hey boss, why is someone sleeping on the couch in the break room?”). And then, guess what happens? They turn into the Complainer (believe us, you don’t want two of these on your team).
Tip: Keep your Rock Star happy by giving them everything they want. Everything. Kidding aside, at the least, acknowledge them and know you appreciate their hard work. Reward them with flex time, a better title, or everyone’s favorite, more money. At the least, make sure they know how much you’re relying on them to keep your project rolling.
And maybe? Just maybe, your project’s schedule might stay on rack. If heavy client changes come in at the last minute (that’s another article), you’re going to need your team cranking on all cylinders.
Where else is your schedule going to break down?
You’ve got a handle on your team, but personnel management is only one potential grain of sand in the gears of your product development schedule. What might be coming your way next? Have you set up objective performance metrics? Did you take the time to fully assess your project risks?
We talk about those potential problems and more in our new eBook, Mastering the Urgent: 9 Strategies for Tackling Tough Product Development Timelines. The 15 minutes you spend reading it could save you hours of time later.