About the dangers of part time employment

Part Time is evil.
Not absolute, of course, evil, but in 90% of cases it is.

By part time, I mean “parallel” work on different tasks within different projects and / or in one project but within different areas of competence. "Parallel" in quotes because By there is a switching between tasks until they are completed.

Let's try to understand the causes and consequences of such a widespread phenomenon.

What for?

Typically, part-time employment is applied in the following basic cases

  • To optimize the use of resources
    If an employee solves the task in half the working day, it will logically puzzle him in the second half (with a fee of 100% of the time)
  • With a lack of competencies
    The more unique competencies are concentrated in an individual, the more popular he becomes and the more projects require their participation.
  • Unscheduled tasks
    Where without them ... Such is the reality that unscheduled tasks of completely different priorities can arise on any of the projects.

Someone can, and someone not

Do not forget about the employees. There are "rubber" and "non-rubber" people.

The former are quite flexible in their approach to tasks. Any additional activity does not cause them stress, and they feel quite comfortable with a large number of tasks.

The second, on the contrary, builds a rigid line of tasks, and any change in it causes stress and, as a result, resistance.

Thus, if we can give “parallel” tasks to the employees of the first type, then to the employees of the second type - only under pain of execution.

And if on an example ...

As an example, we can consider 2 common situations.

Example 1: the
programmer Vasya sits and writes the project A. The boss comes to Vasya and speaks in a human voice - and let’s you, Vasya, connect to project B in parallel, because ... Of course, Vasya is “connecting” ...

Example 2:
Vasya the programmer is sitting and writes the project A. He writes for a long time and successfully and at one fine moment they suggest that Vasya additionally manage the same project. Important - development tasks with Vasily are not removed. Of course, Vasya agrees ...

And then what ...

And then we risk getting a number of problems.

From the point of view of the employee:
  • The focus of effort is blurring. When working on one project it is much easier to concentrate than when working on 2-3
  • Additional bones appear to switch between tasks. I really liked the analogy of Askhat Urazbayev at the Agile training: when switching between tasks, the computer at least needs to unload the current one from memory and load the next one from the queue. The situation is similar with people.
  • We have to set priorities for projects, and here it is not so important - independently or interacting with me as a project manager.

From the point of view of PMa:
  • Projects lose control because it is not possible to understand in advance exactly how much time will be spent on a particular project. Alas, pseudo-agreements will not work here: “before lunch we work on project A, after - on project B”
  • Significantly increases the risk of getting a bottleneck while at the same time rushing through competing projects

As for the second example - everything is more prosaic - we no longer have a programmer on the project, and the newly made PM messes up. Any new responsibilities should, in my opinion, develop in isolation and purposefully. This is a topic for a separate post.

Classic antipatterns

  • Underestimation of tasks. A classic example is “look at that letter”. You need to switch, find a letter, make sure that it is the right letter, read, understand, answer, remember what you did before and where you stopped ... Well, you understand :)
  • Inability to say no. An employee often cannot refuse a leader and accepts a task. It is important to understand that not only PM is to blame, but also the employee who accepted the task.
  • Lack of basic planning and risk management skills
  • ...

What to do with it ...

The ideal case is to prevent part time tasks.

If parallel loading does happen, a few recommendations will help reduce risks:
  1. It is better to parallelize tasks with polar priorities from the point of view of the project. Important user story goes well with the development of new technology. The first works on the project, the second - on the skills of the employee.
  2. Clearly limit the limit of work. Yes, in most cases this will not help, but the employee has guidelines
  3. Limit the duration of this mode of operation. week - ok, 2 - wherever it goes, more - get ready for problems
  4. Assign part-time tasks to trusted and loyal employees. In case of problems, it is possible to come to an agreement with such people quickly and painlessly without listening to the arguments “I worked on project A, but there was no time left for project B”
  5. Create the most comfortable conditions for the party time employee
  6. ...

Of course, there are people who are able to work effectively in part-time mode at medium and long-term intervals. But about them - some other time.

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