People Skills Play an Essential Role in Release Management

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In her Personality Matters series, Leslie Sachs examines the personalities and people issues that are found in technology groups from cross-functional, high-performance teams to dysfunctional matrix organizations.

Summary:
Release management is a complex function that involves many essential technical tasks that must be completed in a very specific way. At first glance, one might think that Release Management has little or nothing to do with personality and psychology. In the book Configuration Management Best Practices: Practical Methods that Work in the Real World, Bob Aiello and I focused three of our fourteen chapters on the people side of CM. The fact is that people skills play an essential role in release management. Read on if you want to improve your ability to get the job done and achieve success in release management!

Release Management is a Team Sport

Release Management usually involves combining the work completed by a number of different people. Coordination and communication are essential for success in creating and supporting release management processes. Release Management involves taking the software components that have been built and assembling them into a secure and traceable package. Coordination involves handling many different tasks and dependencies and communication often depends upon multiple layers that could easily rival the complexity of conducting a medium sized orchestra. This complexity is especially evident in looking at the way that many people communicate.

Communication Styles
Communication styles can vary a great deal. I tend to find that I empathize with each person in the discussion. This can be a bit of a problem because I truly see each person’s point of view. I have worked with many people who had a very different style of communicating. Whatever your preferred style is you need to be aware of how others perceive you and consider whether changing your pitch can help you communicate more effectively. Remember that a particular style may feel more natural to you, but be less than effective at reaching your audience. Similarly, hour team will be able to achieve optimal results when all parties are sensitized to the value of clear communication.

Successful Consultation

Successful consultation usually results from an open and honest discussion that is focused on achieving the desired results of the team. There are times someone has to decisively provide strong leadership, but more often than not you want to focus on a collaborative and effective style of communication. One method that is emerging as an effective framework is the Agile SCRUM.

SCRUM for success
Many teams find that having a short daily meeting with little ceremony is an especially effective way to handle team collaboration. An interesting focus is on giving a voice to those who are truly committed (e.g. pigs) versus those who merely have an observing interest (e.g. chickens). Providing authority to self-managed teams is one of the best ways to foster collaborative success. Many Scrummasters are very effective leaders and facilitators, but make sure that you are aware of the potential challenges involved.

What does birth order have to do with it?

Some people are just born leaders and that may be the real problem in your group. Make sure that you identify the team members who may try to control the release management process and be prepared to run block, if necessary, to include everyone’s voice. The same is true if you have members of your team who have important information or views to offer, but are too intimidated to speak up. We each have our styles for behaving and communicating and you need to make sure that you include input from each of the essential key players.

You can apply psychology at work

The first step in being a psychologically savvy person is to be aware of how others impact you and how you impact others. It’s pretty common for conflicts to result from mismatches in communication styles. If you are in touch with the fact that someone reminds you of that grammer school bully, you can then parcel out whether or not its because the guy had the same hairstyle or the same obnoxious and pushy style. Understanding how you are perceived by others is equally important and many of us can be quite unaware of how we are

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