Task Relevant Maturity - How to Best Enable Team Members to Become Highly Productive.

Denison Wright

VP Engineering at Sonatype



As managers or leaders, we experience times when our team members respond differently or contrary to what we expected when we assign them a particular job or task. Here is a framework to approach this issue.

Actions taken

As managers, it's important to think about the concept of task relevant maturity whenever we assign roles or delegate tasks to our team members. In his book High Output Management, Andy Grove, ex-Intel CEO, talked about how to apply this concept so that managers and leaders may engage with their members and teams appropriately . The first step is to assess your employees on two basic dimensions: (a) skill - refers to education and experience; (b) will - refers to achievements and orientation -> is the individual someone who likes to get things done, who has the drive and willingness to take on a responsibility? You can then assess the situation and figure out how much involvement is needed if they are not quite sure how to do the task. Which among the three levels of task relevant maturity - low, medium, high - is the individual likely in? For example, irrespective of someone's career experience, the person might not have any experience with a specific task at hand. . As the manager, you may have to be more prescriptive of how they should engage, provide a structured approach for them, outline what needs to be achieved and how, show them the ropes and specific actions they can take.
For medium level maturity, have conversations with them, provide support and some level of involvement but the member likely does not need specific instructions on how to carry out a task. For high level maturity, let discussions focus more on goals, ensure there is alignment in objectives, and periodically do check-ins but let the person have significant autonomy. The goal is to have members progress to a high levels of task relevant maturity, so the manager's job is to enable and support the journey. Building a culture where team members understand this and can help each other, is a great way to scale and build highly productive teams.

Lessons learned

It is critical for managers to understand the composition of their team and to determine the level they are at in terms of task relevant maturity. This enables them to adjust the level of support and involvement required. At some point you may need to be more involved and coach more to guide each member as they progress through the levels of maturity until they become more mature and independent in tackling different tasks. This methodology also helps to allocate the manager's time more effectively.

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Denison Wright

VP Engineering at Sonatype

Leadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyDecision MakingCulture DevelopmentEngineering ManagementPerformance MetricsLeadership TrainingPerformance ReviewsFeedback Techniques

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