Your Team Members Aren’t NPCs: Get To Know Them

hand drawn D&D characters

Hey we’ve all been there, am I right?  You have a gap in the party and suddenly you toss in an non-playing character (NPC) into the mix to round it out.  A temp or a contractor, you try to cover the skills or sheer man hours you’re missing on a project.  It seems simple. I need a resource, this is a resource, problem solved.  Except people aren’t resources.  I’m fairly certain you would be peeved if someone equated you to wheat or sheep.

While getting drinks at the tavern doesn’t hurt, I don’t just mean reading over their character sheet and assigning them work.  I’ve never had the luxury of working with the same exact team on more than one project.  Every group of adventurers comes together for something unique and even a team member you’ve worked with before has grown and had more experiences since you last collaborated.

Take the time at the beginning of the adventure to have a 30 minute check in. Follow up at least bi-weekly until the chronicle is complete.  Keep a consistent format so they can anticipate the discussion – anxiety is a dump stat for many.

My standard agenda is:

  • Housekeeping items
  • How do they think the project is going?
  • What frustrations or blockers do they have?
  • What do they need?
  • In the initial kick-off you should also ask what their career goals are in order to determine if you can give them opportunities to increase their stats
  • Time for coaching and feedback
  • Do they feel like they’ve done something that they haven’t been recognized for since you last spoke?
  • Do they have feedback for you?
  • Other questions?

This technique sets a foundation for communication and trust. The benefits of which include your team coming to you with blockers and concerns before it derails all efforts.  It also enables you to use them more effectively and help them level up for future quests.  In sum, it makes for a much more satisfying experience for all involved.

Crystal Larsh is a service delivery professional, managing a variety of technical projects in Austin, Texas. She has been leading teams in the project and product space since 2003. Valuing continuous growth, she has gained an MBA in eCommerce, a Masters in Project Management, and NPDP, PMP and Scrum Master certifications. She has used her education and over 15 years of experience to help bring up the next generation, particularly women in tech. Serving clients by trade. Gaming by hobby. Mother of two by love. Managing projects comes as naturally as breathing.

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