Management By Objectives

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Once you have a team of smart, capable, and dedicated people assembled, it's time to step back and give them space to amaze you with results of their work. But stepping back by no means equals going away. A team and a company can diverge in their goals and aspirations pretty quickly and it is the role of a middle manager to align the two without interfering too much (or at all) with the day to day operation of the team. Probably the best way to do so is to dissect company's strategy into a clear (and preferably measurable) set of objectives that teams are supposed to achieve. With teams aligned with product or market segments, as we have them at Zemanta, the most important objectives are the ones indicating whether product is working or not, such as number of customers, revenue per customer, cost per sale, et c. But product related objectives are very dependent on other teams (e.g. sales) and external factors, so it is not fair to evaluate team's performance solely based on metrics beyond team's effective control. Therefore it is necessary to include also objectives that show that people are working, such as lead time in kanban or team's velocity in scrum. Finally, focusing on discovery of new features, products, and customers, while disregarding support of existing users is not a way to build a sustainable business. Therefore it is essential to include also objectives that concentrate on whether system is working and the product is supported.

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