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An Egalitarian Approach to a Disportionate Workload

Team processes
Ethics
Ownership

16 November, 2020

Nimrod Perez, CTO and VP of Engineering at Wobi LTD., explains how he solved a long-troubling problem of disproportionate workload by his simple and egalitarian approach.

Problem

Earlier in my career, I was tasked with managing a sizable team of ten developers or so -- a fairly large team with only two senior engineers. Since they had been the most knowledgeable about our software solution, all the tasks by the support team were assigned to them. The constant interruptions by Support impacted their performance. Needless to say, they found it annoying and were in general, not pleased with how the situation was dealt with.
 

Actions taken

One of my core beliefs, which is translated into how I organize the teams, is my profound commitment to equality. Therefore, I have compiled the list of all developers on the team and decided to create a rotation system based on this belief. Every week two developers would be assigned to help the support team.
 

However, this approach couldn’t yield results immediately. Support would often approach junior engineers who wouldn’t know the answer and would have to ask more experienced developers to help them. The interaction between junior and senior people on the team enhanced the competencies of juniors, and the knowledge was gradually spreading across the team. Not everyone was on the same level yet, but it helped nivellate the knowledge. Senior engineers could finally take some load off their shoulders and instantly felt relief. At the same time, junior engineers accepted their responsibilities relating to the rotation system because they understood that as a team they had to share the load.
 

As a big believer in equality, my approach was to ensure and repeatedly emphasize that there was no one who was above anyone else and when people see that implemented in practice they would always support it. They would intuitively understand that the system I introduced was fair and the right thing to do even when it meant more load for some people. Being driven by this belief I had never encountered any turbulence within the team.
 

Lessons learned

  • Simple solutions work best. This was one more example to prove the rule. If you are in doubt about what to do, go with a choice that is more simple.
  • When you introduce changes that are equally affecting everyone and are fair in its essence, hardly anyone will complain. When everyone gets to do everything and share the same amount of load, people won’t object even if that means working more. On the most fundamental level, people won’t object to things that are fair.
  • In addition, this approach helped build camaraderie because it emphasized the sharing aspect of the solution and encouraged more intensive collaboration between senior and junior engineers.

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