Dealing with Uncertainties and Adapting as You Go
Engineering Manager at HelloFresh
Uncertainties of the Environment
We have witnessed massive changes in our work environment since 2020. With Covid, remote work, and so many people changing jobs, organizations face a significant level of uncertainty. It’s become difficult to predict certain things. Like, when can we take on new work? What will our capacity be in the upcoming months?
In the past, it was much easier to have weekly or biweekly meetings where we decided on prioritization and resource allocation. Now, all the variables are felt at a deeper level: more people taking sick leave because of Covid, resigning, or getting onboarded.
Teams need to find the right balance between establishing short- and long-term plans. Moreso, they need to incorporate flexibility in their plans.
Building Resilience Against Change
Encouraging Team Autonomy
Being aligned with your team is critical. My first recommendation to managers is to have discussions with your team about the organization’s mission, where your team stands within the organization, and what you want to achieve in the short and long term.
We do stakeholder mapping, where we discuss how our work impacts other teams and how their work impacts us.
So the team is informed and has context—they know where they stand in the bigger picture—which makes it easier for them to make decisions for themselves.
Keeping Up With Change
My team is much less tied to its roadmaps compared to the past. Of course, we still have them, but we’re much more flexible in our goals.
Also, we now have more short-term goals, such as weekly achievements instead of monthly targets. We are more relentless with limiting the work on progress and focus on the fast flow.
We do catch-ups with the team to get a pulse check on how confident people are in reaching their goals. This helps us to sense how things are doing, adapt, and adjust our roadmap.
Frequent and Purposeful Communication
I’m a strong advocate of communicating often and being very transparent. If something unexpected happens and there is a delay in our timeline, we meet with the stakeholders and inform them about the changes.
We used to have a lot of scattered meetings between different groups. Now we’ve streamlined that; we hold bigger meetings with more explicit agendas where we keep everyone in the loop. The small-group meetings still have a place, but we try to limit them.
One of the actions we took last year was having biweekly all-hands department meetings: 20 minutes every two weeks to share learnings, team and people updates, achievements, and so on.
Tips for Sustainable Teams
- If you want to build long-lasting teams, you need to focus on fostering a collaborative culture in the workplace. Find ways to connect with your teammates and form personal relationships. Team-building activities are very helpful in fostering such connections.
- Frequent and purposeful communication has highly significant impacts on organizations.
- Mission-driven, autonomous teams who understand the value of their work will be much more likely to stay motivated and move faster.
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Engineering Manager at HelloFresh
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