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Not pushing the team too hard – a fine balance that can be easy to miss – Part 5 ..

In this series of posts (previous post about compensation disparities), I have been talking about the problems that caused our team, which had improved its productivity levels to become one of the most productive teams, to start raising objections to being pushed for the work that they were doing. So far, during the analysis that we had done once we started getting pushback from the team, we had listed compensation policy change, general fatigue, and some other reasons that caused these problems. In this post, I will talk about some additional problems that we started facing as we faced the same team getting older.
One of the advantages of not having too much attrition is that you get people who are experienced with the application / software project. So, these people have much more experience with the code, are able to get things done faster, are quickly able to figure out potential problems, and so on. Equally, once they see a problem, whether found by the QE team or customers, many of the problems will be some that they would have found earlier; and in some cases, we found that people were easily able to figure out the specific defect number that had been deferred earlier, or otherwise resolved. Newer people take a lot more time to do this.
In our case, we had the same team, with fewer changes due to the low number lost due to attrition, and as a result, over a period of time, we found that the team was getting much more experienced with the product. Hence, there was an improvement in productivity directly because of their increased experience. Yet, since we had started with a younger team, as they got more experienced, many of them lost their single status and got into relationships, and many of them started families.
One normally does not account for changes such as these since the personal life of employees, and their work-life balance was something that needs to be kept in balance. However, part of the factors that went into increasing the productivity of this team was about them putting in extra hours, and this was also backed up by awarding people who put in more time (and also those who had managed to make major changes in their productivity). But guess what ? As their involvement with families grew, the amount of time that people could spend on the job decreased, and also they had more distractions. The birth of kids, health problems, etc would normally take up a higher importance in their time, and this showed up in the productivity of the team stabilized, or a small decrease.
And the most surprising item was that people were willing to accept that they would no longer be rated as the most valuable member of the team, if that meant that they had to take a compromise between putting in extra time and be able to spend time on the personal front. And this in turn contributed to the pushback we were getting from the team members in term of productivity.

Outswim the Sharks: How to Quadruple Your Team’s Productivity with Kindness How to Unleash the Collaborative Genius of Teams for Increased Engagement, Productivity, and Results Visual Meetings: How Graphics, Sticky Notes and Idea Mapping Can Transform Group Productivity

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