by Leon Rosenshein

What Would You Say... Ya Do Here?

Unless you work at Initech, chances are you're not got to be asked that question. You've probably got a Jira ticket or two assigned to you that you're working on and periodically you close one. Sometimes that involves landing a PR, and sometimes it's releasing a document. That's what you do, right?

But is that really all you're doing? Probably not, and it's important to make all the work you're doing visible, not just the work assigned to you. There are a bunch of good reasons for doing it. It helps your manager, your team, the organization overall, and not inconsequentially, it helps you.

Before I get into how it helps, let's think about a typical day. In the morning I look at my assigned tasks and think about where I left it the day before. I'll spend some time working on that. But I'll also spend time doing code reviews. Most days there are one or more quick design discussions where we'll talk about tradeoffs of something. It's a rare day where I'm not having a discussion with another team about something we're doing together. Then there are the weekly deep dives. I don't go to all of them, but they're really good to go to occasionally to understand what else is going on and make sure I see the big picture. And lately we've started to do interviews again. So there's interview and debrief themselves, but also prep and document time. Lots of other things that I do on any given day,

So how does making all of those little things visible help? It helps your manager by providing visibility into what's happening beyond the Jira board. Your manager has a different perspective on the big picture, so knowing about those other things might spark a connection and eliminate some duplicate work or give you a solution you didn't know about. If you need resources your manager might be able to help.

A lot of that applies to your team and the organization as well. Your work likely impacts and integrates with others, so making sure they know what you're doing and how it's going to both enable and constrain them is important. It prevents wasted effort on both sides and makes sure that there aren't any missed expectations. Additionally if, as part of implementing a feature, you're researching some new technology there's probably someone around who knows it and can help you out. Or at least they could if they knew you were looking into it.

And most importantly, it helps you, a lot. If you're proactively making sure your manager knows what you're doing you won't get asked. If there was some particularly gnarly problem you needed to work through then letting your manager know explains why the original estimate was wrong. The work you're doing is valuable so why not get credit for it?