Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Utilising Resources in Your Development Team

Are you utilising your resources effectively in your teams? It's a struggle for all modern businesses, but here's my basic theory on it:
Stop utilising resources, and start working with people

It may sound like a very subtle language thing, and it shouldn't really matter that those words are used, it's just management speak right? Wrong. As a husband, I could switch "I'm not particularly good at listening to a problem without trying to help with a solution" with "if you just want to complain, call your girlfriends" and get some very different results.

So why do we think it's OK to call someone a "resource"? And in addition, is it really nice to say to someone that we're using them, rather than them helping us?

The answer in my opinion, is that we've sort of got used to it - it's entered the workplace parlance and stuck. Like I say above, it's "management speak": we may often be guilty of phrasing things in a certain way to try to engender some authority in our words. Plus, we don't want to sound like kindergarten kids when we're talking to the exec, so we might puff out our chests with this kind of business-like language. So all the more reason to try to turn this buzzword bingo ship around.

There's more to this argument than simple semantics as I've already said, and it cuts two ways:

  • It affects the way the person being talked about - and moved about - feels and acts
    This language is impersonal at best, and will tend to make people feel used, rather than valued. People also have feelings about what they do, so won't necessarily perform just as well at one task as another, and you can bet your last quid that someone performs at their best when they chose what to do.
  • It can affect the judgement of the person saying it
    If you think that you're simply deploying a task-agnostic "resource" with no feelings, no attachments to what they do, and no context switching cost, then you'll be inclined to "deploy resources" onto different tasks and projects more frequently.

We have to remember that almost anyone has a need to feel appreciated and valued, and feelings about what they do at work. Strong feelings if you're lucky, so they are an asset, not a resource. But please, still call them people. Not resources. Not even assets. People.

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