I work remotely for a small web-studio-ish company of 15-20 people with a fluid team structure, primarily doing web applications for clients abroad. We only have 2 team leads managing our side of work, and our boss doesn't get involved in most of what we do.
Recently, we had 2 projects which had overly optimistic delivery deadlines pushed by team leads, causing me and my colleagues to do some overtime work. In the latest one (in-progress), I was told that my time estimates were too long, and I ended up agreeing on twice shorter estimates, and now I realize that even my initial estimates were not enough, we already past that checkpoint. My teammates have the same complaints.
I also noticed that one of my colleagues had some toxic conversations with our team lead. (I work remotely and only talk to them both simultaneously every once in a while.) I doubt that it was their "old friends" way of talking to each other and suspect that it's their typical way of communication during conflicts. I was in a situations where I was blamed on certain things in a too-personal way, but the tone was more polite.
We obviously have some issues with our management and team interaction, including but not limited to:
- Team leads pushing for estimates which we cannot deliver
- "Blame ping-pong", where due to lack of proper task tracking people argue about when something happened, who said what, and why something wasn't done or was done with mistakes
- Some employees blaming others for making mistakes, especially when a person who has to fix mistakes is in a time shortage.
- Team members not speaking up about such issues.
- Lack of communication often leads to unnecessary overtime work.
What I want to do to address these issues, is to write a document describing healthy ways and principles of dealing with these, for example:
- "underpromise and overdeliver is better than missing deadlines": the person responsible for a task gives an estimate, in case of disagreement we need deeper explanations of estimates, more granular task decomposition, brain-storming possible issues, more detailed requirement analysis, etc., until everyone understands why things take that much time, but nonetheless some time buffer should be included for unforeseen events. Don't insist you "would do it quicker" if you're not the one doing it.
- "no individual should be blamed for their mistakes": all mistakes are in the team's responsibility and should be solved with improving work processes which must mitigate each individual's lack of expertise, errors, and biases
- "it's not obvious for everyone": others may not know what seems obvious for you, make sure to not assume others know something or blame them for their lack of knowledge. Provide documentation whenever you can.
My goals with this document:
- informing my teammates and team leads about constructive ways of dealing with conflicts and other issues (e.g. by providing useful references)
- explaining what "toxic behavior" means, ways of dealing with it and not doing it yourself
- making this document a set of rules or dogmas, just a friendly advice
- making it legal or creating any official policies
- making it public
- using it as a "post-box for compaints"
I've never seen a company that had such a document, and closest I can think of is a code of conduct. However, I think it's different because CoC includes legal stuff and doesn't give any advice.
This is not a common practice in Russia to even discuss such issues. We don't even have anything like Title IX offices as far as I know. In our company, we don't even have an HR, so I have nobody to go to, and I also don't want to bring these issues to our boss as I believe this can be resolved by better communication within our team.
- What such a document is called?
- Are there any real-world examples I can use as a reference? I can imagine something like Valve's Handbook for New Employees, but our company is too far from anything like that.
- (Bonus) Feel free to tell me I shouldn't do it if you see any reasons to.