Theory of Push & Pull

I’ve been forming a theory of team management. In explaining it, I’ve been talking about it in terms of push and pull.

As with most of the world, there is a spectrum. I’ve seen two ends. Some team members fall on the end of needing to be pushed forward and others fall on the end of needing to be pulled back. We can call the former pushed members and the latter pulled members.

Pushed members tend to interact a great deal with the other members of the team. They ask for advice quite a bit and work at the speed of the tasks assigned to them. The person that executes exactly what is described to him or her. The one asking a sequence of questions about execution details before beginning the task at hand. That’s a pushed member of the team.

Pulled members run ahead of the team. They often finish tasks early, though they may require a second pass with changes. Anyone picking tasks and issues off the backlog before others have finished their week’s work. The person working, head down, headphones on loud, jacked into a problem until the solution is complete. These are pulled members.

I’ve noticed this because I prefer the pulled members. It seems to be harder to push members into initiative. It’s difficult to teach someone the skills to tackle and complete a problem entirely on his or her own. I can pull people back from over-execution. The rest of the team can easily mandate daily stand-ups and social coding standards. Pulling members, in my experience, has been less stressful and time consuming.

When I’m on a team, I’m pulling and I want to be pulled.