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Your Team Needs a Healer

In the multiverse of MMORPG’s like World of Warcraft, working with a team to complete a seemingly impossible challenge is a truly awesome experience. It was for me anyway. I don’t play WoW anymore for a variety of reasons — but I remember those days fondly.

I had many WoW characters but my favorite was the priest — the healer. Her name was Vesspa. Once I got her to the highest level, I was constantly bombarded with requests to join pick-up teams. To complete any team challenge, a healer is REQUIRED. And healers are in short supply because it’s a hard role to play. Most people simply want to attack the enemies. I wanted to be instrumental while also serving a higher purpose.

Here’s a longer overview of the roles on WoW (or other MMORPG’s), but below is the gist of the three primary roles:

  1. Tanks “hold the arggro.” In other words, their primary role is to keep the Enemies focused on them and to take damage for the team.
  2. DPS does the damage, either up close (melee) or from afar (ranged). Bang, bang, pwoom, pwoom, zap.
  3. Healers heal the rest of the team, and especially focus on healing the Tank. If you’re a primary healer, you won’t do much damage to the Enemies. (Characters that are usually healers, like priests, can choose a different talent tree, like Shadow Priest. Playing a Shadow Priest is fun. They melt faces. But you have to constantly tell people, “I don’t heal. I’m shadow.”)

You might begin so see why healers are so important. Without them, the rest of the team will suffer. And they’ll never get the prize.

Now let’s get back to the “real” world. Do you have a “healer” on your work team? If you do, then you probably get what I’m saying. And, especially if you play that role, you see why it’s so hard: Healers are in the background and are often under-appreciated. And even though they shouldn’t take much damage, they often do — from their own team. “Where were you when I needed you???” It takes patience and perseverance to be a good healer.

If you’ve made it this far (thanks for staying with me!) you may need an example to extend this metaphor further into the real world:

Case Study #1: The Depressing Scenario Without a Healer

Bobbie is a manager for a tech firm and she serves as the point person on a team with software developers and client specialists. Their goal is to deliver a website for their client, Big Box Store. The Enemy is not Big Box Store, because the client should be seen as a partner — a fellow team member. The “Enemies” here are the project hurdles, including the potholes, the fires, and the dead ends.

As the project lead, Bobbie is the Tank. She takes a lot of aggro because of the hurdles, but she presses on, leading the team towards success. The developers and client reps do DPS. They conquer the project tasks. Bang! Code passes QA! Pwoom! Client gives us usable data!

But there is no healer.

Bobbie becomes increasingly frustrated with her team’s “inability to do their jobs” while everyone else gets upset that Bobbie is an “ineffective manager.” The developers blame the client reps for focusing too much on sales and the client reps blame the developers for not coding fast enough.

But, imagine this world with a healer…

Case Study #2: The Uplifting Scenario With a Healer

Echoing from Case Study #1, we still have Bobbie, our manager/tank and we still have our DPS dealers (developers and client reps). But enter Joe, who is a Technical Director well-versed in the technology needed to achieve success and well-versed in how Big Box Store works. He also has enough authority to approve important changes to ensure our team is not damaged. Joe is our healer.

As the project progresses, Bobbie has regular Venting Sessions with Joe. Because of this, Bobbie doesn’t feel the need to take her frustrations out on her team. On the contrary, Bobbie has the emotional capacity to lift them up. In addition, Joe is able to approve a vacation for Lucy, a developer burnt out from staying up until 2am most nights. And, Joe proposes an extension on the project timeline. This makes everyone a little less harried and hurried. Go Joe!*

*But who heals the healer??? I may tackle this in another article.

I’m not saying a healer will solve all of your teams’ problems. And if you get a BAD healer, that could make things even worse.

But take a good look at who is on your team. Do you have an exceptional healer? If not, maybe it’s time to get one.

Hey there tech managers! Is leading your team like herding cats? 🐱 🐱🐱Are you sick of making stuff up, without trusted systems to guide you? Are your days filled with useless, time-sucking meetings? Join my Facebook group with other tech geeks who are coming together to build thriving, high-performing teams who don’t need constant hand-holding. No H.R. B.S. Real stories, from real geeks, who understand the nuances of being a techie. Click here to join:

Written by

Career Coach for Tech Managers. I help tech managers upgrade their careers, their teams, their paychecks, and their lives.

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