People can be pretty bad at communicating. We are often so buried under various types of work that it becomes a struggle to “keep your head above water”, and often treading that water tends to promote anger, resentment, and frustration. I’ve noticed a pretty common theme among most places I’ve ever worked:
Every place I’ve ever worked has failed to allow or create space for people to be able to vent their frustrations and for people to ask constructive questions.
For example, when we talk about clustering or provisioning where I work now, those conversations tend to be accompanied by wild gesticulation, increases in vocal volume and intensity, and indirect finger-pointing. What tends not to happen during these arguments is communication.
Asking the Five Whys when you’re in the thick of things can help you get a clear perspective on things:
- “Team X is a bunch of retards! They don’t know how to do anything right!” “Why?”
- “Their tickets come in with missing or bad information!” “Why?”
- “They don’t know what to fill in or where to get that information!” “Why?”
- “They don’t know how to use their tools or to when to ask someone on their team for help!” “Why?”
- “Maybe it’s a documentation or training problem, I don’t know.” “Maybe you should talk with someone from Team X and ask them to help make this better?”
This is a rather oblique example, but seeing the process in action and being able to reach beyond yourself and beyond the limits of your station to improve things is probably among the most valuable things you can do in an organization. Some things that technical people may not keep in mind when they interact with other teams:
- Your experience and knowledge != their experience and knowledge.
- They are not stupid (if they were, they likely wouldn’t be where they are).
- They are probably experts in their chosen silo, just as you likely are in yours.
Clearly define your knowledge gaps, address the process failures, and probably the most important point of all: have empathy. Otherwise, why are you doing the work that you do in the first place?