Last year, in 2023, I applied internally for a Development Team Lead position – and got the job 🎉. Basically that means that I manage wonderful folks on top of continuing to work as a developer and consultant. My add-on focus, so to say, is that I work with my teammates to identify areas for growth, ways to maintain and raise their level of fulfillment, and to give and receive feedback. We also catch up about what’s going on in our lives and how we feel, in general.
The idea behind the 3 question framework is a result of one such meeting I had with a teammate I support. We were discussing experiences we both had where we felt we didn’t work efficiently because we were constantly answering questions and reacting to comments on Slack. We do this because we really care about one another and we find fulfillment in helping others. But in doing so, we didn’t give others the chance to contribute or to find answers on their own. On top of that, it was frustrating as we were slower in finishing our own tasks.
After that meeting, I thought about a way to prevent this from happening. It wasn’t as easy as just saying “stop reacting to posts, focus on your own tasks” because as I mentioned it fulfills us to help and we definitely don’t want to stop doing it. A balance was needed. That balance called “3 Question Framework”.
As the name implies, the framework consists of three questions to ask when you find yourself reading comments or inquiries that give you the urge to react to them. These are the questions:
- Is the comment or question directly related to my work?
- Can the author answer the question themself?
- Is there someone around who can answer?
Although we have three questions, you might be done with the framework after answering the first. If you answer with “no, this is not directly related to my work”, then you have to force yourself to bring your focus to your own task. Do not react to the question.
If the comment is related to your task, move to the second question from the framework: can the writer answer the question themself? Maybe they are looking for a document or similar and are asking if someone knows where to find it off the top of their head. If this is the case and you would need to search for it as well, you do not react to it.
If they can’t answer it by themselves and given that it is related directly to your work, you go to the third and last question: are there other folks in the team who can react to the post. If there are, give them the chance to answer – and I use “chance” intentionally. You keep yourself in the background and focus on your task.
Finally, if there is a post that is directly linked to your work where the author can’t proceed without input from you alone, that is the only time when you will answer.
Ideally, you don’t want to use this framework forever. You should use it as a method to trick your brain into not reacting the known way: immediately reacting to every message. I can say that it helped my teammate and myself. If you are worried you might come across as rude, you can inform your colleagues that you are trying out this framework. And if you did use it, let me know what you think and if it helped you or your mates.