Delegate To Create (Read Time: 5 Mins)

Introduction

I think when you come across a word like the delegation. The first thing that might come to your mind might be outsourcing.

Which in recent years has become a heated debate and emotional part of the dictionary in development teams, product managers and entrepreneurs in startups

Due to the challenge in finding in a limited pool of skilled developers locally and getting them to be part of your organisation.

I had friends who choose to go for an offshoring tech team in countries like Vietnam, India or the Philippines to help in building their own startup.

As they were not able to attract local developers because of their limited resources.

Why Delegation Matters

As a developer, I won't be talking about the pains of this instead it will be focusing on you.

Who is working in an organisation or a startup that relies on interns as part of the development team

Since you are a developer, time is a precious commodity when your focus is writing code to ship and deliver software to your customers' hands.

To delegate lower priority tasks to your interns so that you can focus on higher priority task to meet the expectation is key.

Learning to Delegate is Hard

Learning on how to tap on the current skills or potential skills of your interns and delegate work has never been taught to you even in school.

It is usually a hit or miss thing only after multiple interns to have the experience to figure out a process.

I had remembered a few horror stories in working with interns. One of which is that they would suddenly not turn up for work the following day, due to the challenge of the work that they are given.

That is why I have figured out my own process after learning to manage and delegate work to my interns.

Which I hope will be useful for anyone who might be managing interns during your career in software development.

Delegation in 5 Steps

Here is a 5 steps process in delegation of your work. Which I had figured out while learning to delegate my work to intern.

Usually, very interesting work for my interns that I want to do but in the interest of time and priority was not able to do.

Step 1 - Build a Relationship With Your Intern

This is important as it is useful to understand them to build a friendly working relationship as they will taking on your work.

Since I have a diverse team, I am always interested in what are their favourite food or even their education system in their own country.

Therefore scheduling a time to chat 30 mins - 1 hour time or during your non-working hours aka lunch or breaks in no particular order.

  • Where are they from?
  • What university or school you are from?
  • How did you find our company?
  • Why did you want to work in our company?
  • What are you looking to accomplish in our company?
  • What is the type of work that you would like to do?
  • What are your hobbies or favourite activities outside of work or school?
  • What are the things that you are proud of?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are the technology you know or had worked on before?
  • What are your plans in the future?
  • When is the last day of your internship?

Step 2 - Delegating Tasks

Now you had built a good understanding of your intern, you should spend some time to reflect and review on the task you could give to your interns.

Here is a list of thing to consider:

  • What is the context for the task - What is the basic understanding and knowledge to perform the task.
  • Scope - Forming the scope on what needs to be accomplished will give you a general guideline on the progress and allows the intern to have small wins while reaching the intended result of the task.
  • Duration - The duration of the task, it has to allow room for learning and understanding.
  • Resources for the task - Understand what are the resources that your intern needs to accomplish instead of throwing them into the deep end to find these resources by themselves.
  • Reporting of Progress - The mode of communication in either slack, email or scheduling time for an in-person meeting.

Step 3 - Assurance and Pointing in the Right Direction

This is usually done when you are assigning that particular task to your intern.

Always focus on seeking feedback and elimination of doubts from the intern regarding of the task.

Addressing these doubts can help you in adjusting the scope or duration of the task.

It could even mean that you should provide additional resources for the execution of the task.

For example, provide your personal opinion on how to tackle the task and searching for resources.

Step 4 - Review & Mentoring

This is usually carried out in a daily 15 - 30 mins in-person meeting with your intern to discuss the progress of the task that was carried out.

Assure yourself that you are in a relaxed, calm and positive mood before going for this in-person meeting.

To allow better facilitation in listening and asking questions regarding the problem they had faced while executing the task.

It could even be in the form of sitting with them side by side to execute the task to understand and clarify the problems they had faced so far.

Step 5 - Documentation

Always remind your intern that they should document their findings along with test cases for the software they had developed.

Regarding on the problems faced in a company wiki while executing the task or after they had completed it.

This helps in the transfer of knowledge and allows anyone to pick up the task again after the intern has completed their internship.

Conduct a review of their documentation and provide you with a walkthrough on what they had done before the end of their internship.

Conclusion

Having been through multiple internships, it can be dishearting as an intern.

Who was given menial tasks during my internship who does not value your learning to develop your skills further

So I wish that when delegating a task to your interns. Think in the perspective of your intern when if it is manageable and can be performed by you.

If it is not, do not delegate to them those task to them. Since your interns besides being there to gain experience to learn.

They are your evangelist who spreads your company's reputation among peers, professors, academic staff in their school.

I can think of a few companies I will never join due to their bad reputation from seniors and friends.

Always treat them as human and strive to build a great relationship with them.

Since we may never know that they might become your future colleagues or a friend who might recommend you to your next job in the future.

References