Managing a team of student this past quarter has been a huge learning experience. Before the start of the quarter, I planned on working on this game part-time along with 16 units of courses, and was aware that for student volunteers joining my team this was just an extracurricular activity. I hoped that my enthusiasm, the game concept and the idea of joining a start-up would motivate them enough to launch this game off the ground.
My brother and I prepared as much as possible. We used a google drive approach, where I had a task list, complete with details on the task needed to be done, and linked it to all our members. There were additional design documents that they could look at for more reference. I would also dedicate a couple hours each week for office hours to either guide the students in the right direction or to tutor them on the programs we use. We even created a special google site for the team.
The opening pitch turned out to be very successful: we garnered a bunch of students interested in helping out. From there the challenges came…
Students floated in and out, were not coming to meetings, and provided us artwork or code 2-3 weeks after they said they would. Progress was really slow.
Admittedly, we were a bit disappointed. Halfway through the quarter we reflected on what happened and realized we really needed to change our management style.
Forget the google site and the tasks breakdown document. Nobody looks at that.
Let’s use a Facebook group to post tasks that need to be done. 2 minutes later…Wow, people are already signing up.
Let’s do a pizza dinner ice breaker sometime to get the team together and thank them for their efforts.
We are an ambitious studio. We need to emphasize the benefits of joining a start-up and how it could boost their resume/portfolio.
For the rest of the quarter, everything became more efficient. Our team members were more responsive and provided results in 1-2 week’s time. Although we didn’t have a complete prototype by December, we had enough to create an awesome teaser that you all will see in the next couple weeks. Our efforts are not perfect but we’re getting there.
TL;DR: Aside from being personable, a manager must adapt to his/her team’s individual personalities. Communication is key and has to be tailored.