Re: Getting information

Subject: Re: Getting information
From: Leanne Gerth <leanne -at- MITRA -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 22 Mar 1999 16:19:01 -0500

I have a few ways of getting developers to talk.

First, I think that it's important to show developers that you have put some
thought and effort into solving a problem before you show up at their door with
a list of questions. Rather than show up with just the question(s), I try to
produce a write-up of the way I think it works/what effect it has, etc. That
way, I have a basis for saying 'I've written a description and this is how I
think it works...but I'm not sure how x will impact it...' If you have a basis
to start from (even if it is completely wrong), you don't force them to think
on their feet. Instead, they can just modify what you already have, which seems
like far less work to them. So far, this has worked really well for me.

I just started at a new company 2 months ago and I spent quite a bit of time
getting to know the 50+ developers before I 'attacked' them with my questions.
You have to figure out the right time, but I'll show up at their desk at times
just to hang out when they're gathered and having a discussion. At first, I
wasn't able to contribute much, but more and more they will come find me when
there is a discussion they think I can contribute to. I suppose it's just a
matter of showing interest in what they are working on, outside of what you are
doing in the average day and what you need from them. It's all about
interpersonal skills.

There is one person here who only shows up at my desk when they want something.
You know that person. You groan inwardly when they show up. I try to avoid that
with the developers. I don't want to be the person they groan about. It's all
about establishing some kind of relationship that is more give and take.

This may or may not work depending on your role in the company, and the company
structure of course.

Leanne Gerth
Tech Docs Team Lead
Mitra Imaging Inc
455 Philip Street
Waterloo, ON
N2L 3X2

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