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I'm currently working on a team made up of individuals with a very diverse set of capabilities (e.g., software developers, generalists, financial analysts). Often my teammates and I are asked to do work that is relevant to our roles and knowledge, but that we depend on others to accomplish.

I've noticed that some of my teammates tend to let work stall when colleagues from outside of our team aren't able to do the task that they are depending on (see the examples below). Some of my other teammates are, instead, quick to escalate and get issues resolved when other teams fail to deliver - and as a result are highly valued as "doers" and "problem solvers."

How can I help my colleagues who are more hesitant to ask for help when it involves escalating or calling out another team for not delivering on a promise? They are equally capable as the rest of the team, but don't receive the same praise and notice because their work is often delayed without a clear solution.

Some tangible examples:

  • A teammate is responsible for a re-design of a section of our website and is waiting on the internal HTML team to implement the design. The HTML team keeps extending when they promise to have the work done.
  • A teammate is responsible for a number of internal dashboards and recently discovered that the data in some of the dashboards is coming from the wrong source. The developer who implemented the dashboards has acknowledged the error, but isn't available to help.
  • A teammate is responsible for overseeing implementation of a new tool that will be released to internal users before a regulator-established deadline. The deadline is approaching, and the team implementing the tool is way behind schedule for getting the work done.

How can I help my teammates be more courageous in raising these issues to the rest of our team, especially our team/department leaders?

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  • 2
    If the other teams are falling behind and in turn causing your team to fall behind then it seems to me that it's up to your team manager, not the team members, to escalate the issue.
    – joeqwerty
    Apr 20 '21 at 15:27
  • Because of a lack of concrete numbers, there's no way to really distinguish whether these team members are letting something rest too long or whether the others are excessively impatient and trigger-happy. This very much depends on local culture, work culture, and specific contextual consideration (such as severity and impact).
    – Flater
    Apr 20 '21 at 15:50
  • @joeqwerty how can I help my teammates be more comfortable raising an issue to the team leader? Indeed, the team leader can help resolve issues like the ones above, but is not always made aware.
    – Jay
    Apr 20 '21 at 16:46
  • @jay, where are you located? Certain Asian cultures may be very reluctant to do this
    – Anthony
    Apr 20 '21 at 23:12
  • Do you do a daily standup? If something is blocking them, it should be raised there. Apr 21 '21 at 1:52
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You need to encourage the team to talk to their team lead more often - usually a daily stand-up or weekly progress meeting should be enough.

However, the team lead or project managers should really be on the case regarding any perceived delays. They shouldn't really be chasing for updates on a daily basis (unless something is close to the wire), but should really be making themselves approachable and willing to escalate any bottlenecks without blaming your team.

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  • +1. The format of a daily standup is often "here's what I did yesterday, here's what I'm doing today, and here's what I'm blocked on" -- and that last part addresses exactly this issue.
    – B. Ithica
    Apr 21 '21 at 8:21
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From your examples above, there doesn't seem to be a reporting structure in place.

Keep a central repository of issues and concerns, and the team should be entering the issues directly into them.

So, all of those examples you listed above would be listed as line items like this.

TOM: Completed revision, submitted mm/dd/yyyy. Awaiting implementation from HTML team

Dick: Internal dashboarding complete: Noted error in data source, contacted developer, awaiting fix

Harry: Implimentation of Widget project 2 weeks behind schedule, moderate risk to deadline

This should all be clear, concise, and visible to management. Also, the team lead should be actively soliciting issues and status.

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  • yeah, simple solution, make people accountable, job tracking system or any number of others ways are normal.
    – Kilisi
    Apr 21 '21 at 0:42
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Whenever someone becomes aware of an issue that will cause an internal estimate to slip, they should shoot a quick email to whoever has the PM role here.

If there isn't such a person, that is an issue too. The cliché "If everyone is responsible for it, noone is responsible" applies. This can happen if project team members report to different bosses. It can also happen if a nominal project lead was assigned, but that person is either too high level, or too focused on task work.

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Here's what to do.

Using a loud clear voice, tell the teammates:

"You must escalate stalls quickly. You must do this. Be sure to start doing this today. Let me repeat. You must escalate stalls quickly. You must do this. Be sure to start doing this today. Can you please explain if you understand this?"

If (bizarrely) anyone does not understand, repeat it over and over with more details.

If (bizarrely) someone cannot understand such an incredibly simple command, even after you have to repeat yourself, over and over, with details, realistically you will have to fire them.

You may want to print out a poster:

"Escalate stalls immediately. (If you cannot follow this extremely trivial command, you're fired.)

Use large type on A4 paper.

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