Grow your team

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An important part of being a Producer or a Project Manager is to help facilitate team growth. I don't just mean leading your company to success so you can increase in numbers. I am talking about the personal growth and the chemistry of your team members. Read on for more.

One of the most satisfying feelings you can have is helping someone to the next level, guiding them to a well deserved promotion, or just helping them be much better or more involved in what they do. It really is great for everyone involved.

I find the key to it is pretty simple, just slowly crank up the difficulty and complexity of assigned tasks. It is the same as physical training, when you stop challenging yourself, you stop getting better.

One important difference being it is work we are talking about, and some people don't always want a challenge. This is one reason why a gradual increase in difficulty or complexity works well. No one notices except you. It always allows you to minimize risk by being sure they can handle the assigned tasks.

Chances are if your team has a good attitude and is always trying to improve, this will happen for most employees naturally with each challenge.

Things to watch out for are employees getting burnt out on the same thing over and over. Try to avoid handing out similar tasks to the same person, sprint after sprint. When the situation allows for it, it is good to try people out in different capacities. I once had a designer that was hired for illustration. Their work was passable but usually pretty uninspired. One day we were ahead of schedule and had this person try their hand out on some UI elements. It turned out very well and this person ended up as a UI artist.

Another great tactic is to pair people together. I am not necessarily suggesting paired programming, but put two programmers together for a while and they will learn or be inspired. Put a programmer and a designer together and they will better understand each others workflow and will learn how to better accommodate the other.

When I was an art director I would keep lots of great art books around for people to look at and inspire to, and would encourage discussion and sharing of techniques. Just be careful not to spread any negativity around.

You also need to be careful not go full throttle all the time. If you can manage to leave a little slack in your schedule people will have time to experiment and try out new techniques, this is critical to self improvement.

Another recommendation would be finding time to listen to everyone's ideas about the project. Even if you need to set aside special time just for that and you are not expecting great ideas it is worth doing. Often you will get some great ideas for the project but more importantly this person will get better at crafting ideas appropriate to the project they are one, and it will help build relationships.

Try to create an optimistic environment where everyone is pushing the envelope not only as a whole but also as an individual. You want everyone to feel like they are on the road to becoming the best.


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