I received some great feedback about One-on-Ones with your team today. In that article I said that:

At some number of people - probably between 20 and 30 - you'll find that you have run out of hours in the week and you need to see them less frequently. Continue to meet with senior people weekly, but you can push junior team members out to every 2 or 3 weeks.

To which the commenter replied:

I think I disagree with this. Junior folks need more interaction and course correction. -E

On the face of it this makes sense, and in truth I hadn't been happy with that paragraph and wondered how much detail to go into. So here's my chance.

As I stated, ideally you see all your team members individually every week. But when you can't, you must choose who to see less frequently.

If you choose to see the newer, junior team members more, they will certainly get more of your nurturing, but at the expense of the more senior folks.

This is analogous to putting on your child's oxygen mask before your own in case of an airplane emergency - your first instinct is incorrect. If forced to make a choice, you must take care of the child last.

Don't feel like you're abandoning them. Your junior staff already have many other touchpoints with you and senior staff:

  • Your first day lunch to introduce them to your philosophy, company mission, your expectations, etc
  • They have an assigned senior team member (buddy system) to get them onboarded effectively
  • They have a senior team-lead working with them daily
  • They are taking part in code reviews and/or pair programming
  • You can watch over them during daily standup and guide them accordingly (offline of course)
  • You are publishing a weekly email to Engineering, sharing knowledge, plans, hopes and dreams
  • You've encouraged them to reach out to you outside of one-on-ones

On the other side of the coin, your senior staff have more responsibility and have more ability to impact your team - both positively and negatively.

A happy and efficient senior team member can act as your surrogate in many circumstances, mentoring and coaching the more junior team, sharing your values.

One you have identified the empaths in your team, delegate parts of your role to them (I'm a firm believer in making yourself redundant by hiring your replacements) but for now trust that the senior guys will help you pick up the slack.

To be blunt though.. don't ever ignore the senior people in your organization. It's my experience that they have more problems that they need help with, not less.