Put A Face On It

After creating portfolio visibility, take pictures of each team and post them alongside the portfolio work items for that team. This simple act of displaying faces with the portfolio will have a strong impact on your resource allocation discussions.

In the absence of such personalization, discussions of resource allocation tend to treat team members in generic role-based terms. “How many devs do we need for this?” “Do we have a designer for that?” It’s as if team members were interchangeable production units that can be redeployed at will by active managers who know best which problems and bottlenecks require immediate focus.

In this approach, individuals are redeployed around tasks or projects according to the best assessment of the managers. Rather than allocating people to teams, and distributing work to teams, a “team” is merely a collection of individuals deployed to focus on a particular project. This discounts the value of a team, which is more than the sum of its members.

Holding resourcing conversations in the presence of team pictures makes it more difficult to forget that these so-called resources are in fact people who carry out work at the team level. It reminds managers that each team is more than a collection of individuals. And it helps managers avoid slipping into the habit of treating team members as interchangeable work units that can be redeployed at will without compromising productivity.

High-productivity teams need servant leadership from managers. Rather than teams operating as the tools of management, servant leaders grow team capability, letting them achieve more than was previously possible. Give your managers and teams a reminder. Humanize your portfolio wall. Put a face on it.

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