Debugging Communication Errors

Typemock,Debugging communication Error

I couldn’t sleep all night, thinking that on the last company meeting, when one of my employees complained that he can’t finish his tasks because of personal issues that he has with other employees,  I basically told him and the rest of the team to help each other and be a team, I was managing them instead of empowering them, and knew that the issue probably remains unresolved…

For the next meeting, I decided that no matter what I do, I will make sure that my team goes back to work after they resolved their issues themselves, empowered to continue working and achieving  their goals.

I started the meeting by asking each of them to bring up a personal issue that he has with another employee and to resolve it with the other on the spot. It was amazingly interesting to see how they raised the problems, and found the solution at the same time.

One of the employees complained that he requested help via email. He sent the email, but didn’t receive any answers. He needed certain people in the company to fill out part of a form, but none of them did. Nothing but a simple communication problem; they all got the email but didn’t understand the call for action. His way to resolve the matter was to sit with each one of the people involved personally and to fill the form together, that way he will make sure that they understand their share, and he will make sure that it’s done on time.

One of the developers complained about having troubles with managing his time.  I explained that this is not an interpersonal problem, and asked him questions which led him to realize that his lack of time is because he is always helping people. He can’t say no to anyone, and he doesn’t want to look bad or disappoint anyone, so he ends up making everybody happy by helping them, but having no time to do his own tasks. When he understood, it was a major breakthrough, and he realized that he will have to start saying no to people or at least to say I’m busy now I will help you later; I would love to follow and see if he would really do it…

It’s only two examples out of many. The amazing and inspiring part was to see how each one of them was empowered and found his own way to resolve his problem without being told or managed.

Last, out of the entire company there was one developer that claimed that he has no personal issues with anyone in the company. When I asked him if others has problems with him, he was confident that their answer would be no.

On the second round that we did, each one of the developers needed to share their successful interpersonal communications, almost everyone mentioned him.  I guess that it was as obvious to them as it was to him.

One of the more gratifying surprises from the exercise was hearing about the successful communication routes that have developed that I did not know about.  For example, two developers found the time and were sensitive enough to help a third that was in major distress.  They simply encouraged him, but it was exactly what he needed in order to get back on track.   Another developer thanked the sales team for providing him with relevant historical customer support information.  Yet another thanked a team member in marketing for helping him with the wording in an important email to customers.

By the end of the process, it was clear that the team understood the power of effective communication and they now had better tools to resolve interpersonal issues with team members independently.  And at Typemock we know – your result (read: code) is always better when you’re working with the right tools.

When you know immediately when something is wrong, you are able to fix it, and get an immediate indication that your code is correct without the involvement of the QA. In other words, exactly like the Manager that empowered his team to resolve their problems without his involvement and without managing them, the unit testing helping the developers’ resolve problems on the spot and avoid QA involvement.

  1. There are two fantastic communications-related classes I’ve taken that have entirely changed the way I deal with communications issues.

    The first is the “Practical Leader Peer Mentoring” class ( – this tells you how to effectively present, mentor, and demonstrate things to other people and make sure they truly grasped what you were showing. It also tells you how to determine when the person you’re helping is maybe asking the wrong questions (or when YOU’RE asking the wrong questions) and get back on track.

    The other class is “Vital Smarts Crucial Conversations” ( – this tells you how to keep difficult conversations on track and how to address tough issues without the other person getting overly defensive or clamming up.

    I use the skills I learned from both of these on a daily basis and it’s amazing the results. Well worth checking out.

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