I am one of the technical leads in a team of 40+ people. I recently got put on a task force to develop a new and rather high-profile project within my company.
This new project is very demanding in terms of development, design, meetings, ... The task force was initialy composed of the most "efficient" (for a lack of a better term) people in our team.
Recently, we increased the size of the task force to include some less experienced team members to help us with the workload.
Ever since that happenned, I basically don't have any more time to code (which is still expected of me, given my presence in the task force). Every 15 minutes or so, someone else comes with a - usually perfectly valid - question. This is horrible in terms of context-switching, especially when I have a deadline.
I tried various strategies:
- Putting on my headphones when I need to stay "in the zone". Doesn't work: people ping me on Slack/Skype or even in person.
- Saying repeatedly: "I am busy at the moment, can I come back to you later ?". This works... for a while but requests start piling and this causes me stress and I often forget about some requests and people get offended.
- Working from home: this works best as people are more reluctant to contact me for simple questions when I am not on the premises. This however doesn't work well when I have important design meetings I can't skip.
- Working outside of business hours. I can do that from time to time to rush on important things, but this doesn't play well with family life and frankly... as much as I love my work, I wouldn't want it to become a nuisance in my personal life.
I understand - and appreciate - that my tech lead position implies that I must help my team as much as possible ("help them grow" as my manager once told me). I actually love teaching people stuff and debating issues. I wish however I could find some balance in all of this.
I am the sole person in the team that get asked that many questions, at this rate. When I raised the concern with my manager, he deflected with humor: "that's what happens when you know so much more than the rest !".
That doesn't solve the issue though. Today, one of the senior member of my team (one which wanted my tech lead position but didn't get it - if that matters) kept asking me silly questions about Go - a "new" langage that we recently introduced. All the answers were found in the tutorial/documentation I pointed to him several times.
After the 8th question, I dared say "I'm sorry but I can't help you right now, I have something to finish for my demo tomorrow and could sit a total of 30 minutes in front of my desk today".
He got offended and yelled "Well you don't understand that by not helping me you are not helping the team !". I really hate that situation because I consider myself a team-player - if a busy one - and this coming from a "senior" developer is inacceptable to me.
I almost snapped and said something like: "you have been at this company for 20 years. I have been here for 2. If anything, YOU should be the one answering my questions !".
How can I handle/improve the situation and manage to get "free" time to perform all my tasks ?