• Michael Huskey

5 mindsets that will make you a better manager or employee

Updated: Mar 15, 2020

These simple changes in mindset will lead you to more rewarding work

I just read Scrum: The art of doing twice the work in half the time by Jeff Sutherland and it has legitimately changed the way I live my life.

I have been writing a blog for about 5 months, and since instituting Scrum, I have been able to publish 10 posts in 2 months up from 9 in 5 months, and I launched my own site. At work, I have been able to get more tasks done and have been leading in the charge to implement Scrum as the way our office works.

Scrum has a lot of specifics if you genuinely want to implement it. If you are interested in that, check out my report posted on LinkedIn. This article is just going to touch on the ideas that anyone can take advantage of, even if you don't decide to implement Scrum in the way you work.

Expect the unexpected

In life and in work, we want everything to go to plan, but it rarely happens. But for some reason, we keep doing it. We think the reason the plan failed was because we didn't put enough detail into it, or we didn't give it enough time. The actual problem is just the plan itself. Plans do not factor in uncertainty.

"Everyone has a plan until they are punched in the face," Mike Tyson.

Scrum understands this and asks users to throw away their picture-perfect timelines and instead write out what needs to get done. Before the onset of the project, have a list of things you want yourself or your team to get done. And instead of letting a project go on forever, you will create a time limit and document what you get done. You will use this for reference in all your future project planning. This will prevent you from biting off more than you can chew or having projects that never end.

Never Settle with where you are - Inspect & Adapt

People are really good at getting into habits. Sometimes these habits are good, and a lot of times, they can end up being bad. How do you identify if your habits are helping you or hindering you from achieving your goals?

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results," Albert Einstein.

Scrum is always pushing its users to look for ways to improve. The easiest way to start implementing this at work or in your daily life is by simply doing a quick lessons learned after each project you do. What went well? What didn't go well? What will you do next time to improve?

This simple exercise will help you or your manager find bottlenecks and inefficiencies in your workflow, and this will help you avoid making the same mistake over and over again.

Don't look for bad people look for bad systems

When people on our team do something wrong, we think they must incompetent or badly motivated. Sutherland (author of Scrum) asks people to slow their train of thought. He explains that most people when they make a mistake can justify that decision. Instead of judging the person, let's try to find the system this person is working within and see what is happening there.

A great example in the book looked at Fremont Assembly Plant in California. It was a joint venture between GM and Toyota. Under GM control, it was a horrible plant. Employees would put food wrappers in cars and continually produce poorly made vehicles on purpose. GM said we are done with this plant, the employees are just rotten. They gave the reigns to Toyota and told them to fire all the workers, but keep the managers. Toyota did their assessment of the plant and decided to retain all the workers and replace the managers. This became one of the best performing plants in all of North America.

Toyota found out the problem wasn't the workers, but instead the system the managers of the plant had created for them. The moral of that story is before you look to blame someone, look a couple of steps above and see what incentive structure these people are working within. Do the people need to be replaced, or does the system?

Stop Busy Bragging

A common practice in working America is what Sutherland calls the "busy brag." This is when employees will brag about how many different projects they are on and how busy they are at work. Sutherland pulls in a study that was done by (find out who). Who says the more projects on your plate, the more time is wasted during the context switch.

"Weinberg, Gerald M. Quality Software Management (New York: Dorset House, 1991)."

Scrum suggests people spend less time bragging about how busy they are and just focusing on one project and completing it. So if you're a manager, stop overloading employees with new projects until they complete the last one assigned. If you're an employee, stop taking on projects to impress your boss.

"Doing half of something is essentially nothing," Jeff Sutherland.

People want to be great

One of the final assertions Sutherland makes in his book is a very inspirational one. At the end of the day, most people want to be great.

I think carrying this underlying assumption about everyone is very powerful. It is easy for all of us to cast judgment on people. We think people are dumb or lazy because that is in their nature. But if you assume, everyone wants to be great and there are just things in their way the way you would approach everyone would be different.

If you are a manager and you have an underperforming team member ask them, "What will it take today for you to produce amazing work, and what can I do to make sure that happens?" This simple question will communicate to your employees you know they are capable and that you are there to help.

When you assume everyone has the potential to be awesome, it is hard not to go into every day excited and ready to tackle the world.

As you can see, Scrum is just a different way of viewing work. It almost runs counter to the way most traditional people and companies operate. If this article resonated with you, I recommend reading the book.

If you have read about Scrum and are looking for details of how you would implement it at work, check out my report on Linkedin, and if you have any questions for me about how I've used it, send me an email at huskdoes@gmail.com.

If you want to get my articles directly mailed to your inbox, subscribe to my blog.

About the Author

I am a 25-year-old writer writing about topics that I am interested in and passionate about. Those topics right now are personal finance, business, and some self-help. I try to bring to my unique perspective to any article I write and hope that my perspective can provide value to my readers. If you have any comments or questions around any of my articles or if you have suggestions for future articles, feel free to email me at huskdoes@gmail.com

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