1

I'm leading a small team of developers. I'm also the technical head of a product that is used internally and externally by several clients.

I have a bunch of tasks in pipeline which need focus and attention to correctly complete. However, when any internal or external user has an issue with our product and the support team is unable to solve it, they contact me for help. I do delegate this to the team but since I'm the team lead, I'm become the direct point of contact most of the time. Also my work timing coincidentally aligns well with the time most queries arrive. Other teammates are a little late.

All this causes a lot of small queries, questions and discussions to consume my day. And since these are not limited to any specific time of day, or even day of week, I end up loosing focus from my primary tasks very frequently. More importantly, it makes me getting my focus back really difficult.

How do I keep my focus and avoid these questions to break it?

0
2

Allocate coverage ranges throughout the day or week to team members

Your comment on another answer says that things need to be replied to immediately. I suspect that hiring a dedicated Application Analyst is out of the question or will at least take some time to get approved (although even on my past government team we managed to get this, so give it a try).

If they all need to be replied to immediately, then the delegation is probably distracting members on your team as well. This is also a problem. If you can deal with many of these a day, none of them take very long.

So create coverage windows. As you come in early, you cover 8-10. Someone else covers 10-12. Someone else covers 12-2. And another person covers 2-4. You can adjust these for your schedule. That person can work on other things, but in terms of time allocation, it is expected that they achieve nothing.

Set up a dedicated support email/phone/chat for these questions.

Not having one dedicated person means that the people needing help will message fairly randomly. There was hodgepodge of contact methods. This was a problem I had in my past job. Whoever had a problem would message whichever person on the development team had a green dot on their name. I was not in the support rotation, but frequently got messages and had to forward them, which was distracting. That was fixed with a dedicated support email. So whoever was on support for that period got all issues though that email. You then just pass the chosen dedicated communication method around.

TL;DR: Someone's focus is going to be wasted by this. Just make sure that all the waste is concentrated and scheduled and forced through the funnel.

1

The company I work for uses Jira as our main issue tracker, it's used by both software engineers and the support team. If the support team is unable to resolve a specific customer issue they would escalate it to engineering by either assigning the ticket to or just CC-ing the lead for the team who would likely be responsible for the feature in question. The lead may then delegate the issue to one of the engineers on their team. This process is similar to what you describe, however everything happens asynchronously through the issue tracker - as a lead you'll get an email that a ticket was assigned to you, and nobody expects people to constantly monitor incoming emails. For issues that are high priority and have to be resolved quickly there's an on call system with a rotation of engineers, and when an engineer is on call there's an expectation that their main focus is on call and not other tasks they might be working on.

I'd suggest ensuring that your company has an issue tracker and that all issues are entered into the issue tracker, instead of just being brought up to you. Establish the expectation that once a ticket is assigned to you you'll delegate it within 24 hours - this will allow you to go over the tickets when you're checking your emails in the morning. If there are high priority issues that need fast resolution - there should be an on call rotation, to ensure that none of the engineers become permanent bottlenecks for issue resolution.

4
  • Unfortunately, the nature of this project and the queries is such that they need to be looked into and replied on immediately. The support team and the tech team have a common chat where we discuss all these queries. Nov 14 '20 at 1:22
  • 1
    I bet they can wait they just don’t want to.
    – mxyzplk
    Nov 14 '20 at 1:27
  • 2
    @just-a-human If this is the case then on call is probably what you want. Have engineers on your team (including or excluding you) rotate weekly and triage issues during their shift. Make it clear to your superiors that this will affect team's overall productivity. If this is a concern it will be on management to find solutions for the problem of support overloading engineering with issues.
    – Egor
    Nov 14 '20 at 1:41
  • 1
    @mxyzplk-SEstopbeingevil it's an online examination platform where we get queries about user's facing trouble during the exam. It cannot be delayed or postponed. People's future career depend on us resolving the queries quickly. So no, it can't wait. Nov 14 '20 at 2:21

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .