Wednesday, July 2, 2008

How opportunity is given to your team members? If you are given this common scenario.

Firstly, I am not facing such a problem now. The situation came into my mind and I was thinking about what would be the best solution(s), if it happens one day that I have to make such decision.

I scrolled over my long list of MSN buddies, but I couldn't find the right people being in the right companies (true that, there's no perfect company and each company has its own culture) to answer my question. If there's any books that you can recommend, do let me know too.

Here comes the question. Say, if you are a team leader who is running a small team and there is an opportunity which can only be given to only one team member. An opportunity could be, a chance to move to another project, or to lead a new sub-project in a team.

Very common problem right? But I would like to know how differently people will handle this. Generally, the leader will short-list the potential ones from the team and make internal discussions with the superior and/or the candidates; or, instead of short-listing the guys, you make this information completely transparent to the team and let those who are interested to come back to you.

I gave two suggestions above, but each comes with its own set problems. The first one could possibly kill the opportunities of others, the second one could generate more competition in the team, so..

What will YOU do and suggest? And, what organization you are in? An open one? You may want to tell me how often do you share information with the team.

- yc

5 comments:

David Chui said...

I'd probably do something pretty much like what you've said about making information visible to anyone. It will be an up-for-grabs thing, except, with a catch. So the information will sound like this, in layman terms.


There is this awesome opportunity to work on <insert interesting stuff here>. However, like I've said, there is only one.

If you're interested, please please drop me an email.

Due to the scarcity of this wonderful chance, those who are interested will have to go through an elimination process -- to determine if you can do the job. In other words, you've got a chance at getting it only if you do not suck.

If you're the lucky one, we'll need to talk about transitioning your work, which will include detailed planning from you, declared exit criteria and of course, a plan B if exit criteria are not met.


Competition is a good thing. It can be bad. However, it's not the worst because without competition is definitely bad.

My company always tell me that it is open, so it is open.

As for sharing of information, I do it often in blogs. I don't like the idea of going to each member and feeding him or her with the information. If they want to be informed, they should proactively make use of the company's infrastructure, which includes a wiki for internal blogs.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but if someone came to me and asked why they didn't get some opportunity, I can't think of a much worse answer than "you didn't read my blog and you suck anyway".

IMHO if this is a small team, unless it was very recently formed, it should be clear who deserves it to both you and the candidates. It's your responsibility as leader to see that and act on it. Opening it up as a contest could cause people to think all kinds of things, most likely that you're not paying attention.

If there's no track record to base things on, or in a large team where you and the candidates haven't seen much of each other's work, I can see doing it differently.

David Chui said...

If you prefer the politically correct version.


Hey guys. Wonderful news! I just got to know of this opportunity which <inserting selling points>. I think all of you can greatly benefit from it. I'm very excited to see this moving.

Unfortunately, there is only room for one of you at the moment. More will come, of course. However, it is really important that we get this right, so that future opportunities like this will come our way again!

If you're interested, let me know. You can text me, drop me an email or call me. It's all up to your preference. I'll see how I can work this out for all of you.

Looking forward to hear from you!


Which of course, means the same thing from my experience.

But here's what I have to say about "small" teams. Small teams do not mean you have to talk more. I work with small teams. Our communication is supported wikis, issue trackers, company instant messaging and of course email.

In my company, it is mandatory that every employee reads blogs. We actually categorize our work blogs with certain labels so that the "minimalists" in the company can configure their RSS readers to pull only those content.

Reading and writing blogs are responsibilities of each employee. Everyone (developers, architects, human resource, managers, directors) is charged with the same responsibility.

So if one misses important work information in blogs, the first question asked would usually be, "didn't you read XXX's blog?".

And, if you're wondering, our small teams are spread across Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand. You might think of blogging a a way of scaling a company and you wouldn't be wrong... and if you agree with that, the only way you can scale in that direction is to start early.

You can't change everyone to communicate via blogs over months, less possible over days. In other words, you can't wake up one day realizing that your company has a scaling problem and fix that by saying, "Hey, let's all blog".

The practice of blogging must be instilled early. The metaphor of "if you didn't read XXX blog's, your loss" is really a simplistic way of explaining what I just did.

Eddie Kua said...

I'm sorry but if someone came to me and asked why they didn't get some opportunity, I can't think of a much worse answer than "you didn't read my blog and you suck anyway".

I don't think David means it that way. I believe David said that information is given time by time such as guidance and skill.
Normally, a project is giving with limit resource time. You have to know the world is full of competitor. You can't do it, the rest will. You can't expect your leader sitting down explain bit by bit to you.

More often people who only start preparing when opportunity is available, but usually they can't catch the opportunity. It is not that they are not smart enough or capable, they are not observing what is going and waiting people to feed you the information and guidance.

You don't wait people to give you the opportunity, you create the opportunity

For me, I will choose the person who is capable to do it and let him fully in-charge of it and you observe from the back. The reason is because the time is priceess. You have to know we create a chance for them and for your own as well. If he/she can free out your time, that mean you could have more time to workout things that never though about it.

Robert Castaneda said...

welcome to management. Once you get to this stage then the politics and games start ;-) There are no right answers as people are not compilers .... but always do your best to be fair, but know that even if you are, someone, sometime will not be happy. You have to focus on the outcome.