My team consists of 7 people and I am the project manager. A teammate of mine has good technical skills, but he struggles with documenting the results of his work and delivering documents to the next teammate (documenting a single page takes him two or three sprints).

I spoke with him and he says that documenting something is hard for him, and he doesn't like to do this so he postpones it to the end of the sprint and rarely does it. I suggested using voice typing or some methods like temptation bundling but nothing changed.

I thought this person could be a good lead developer because of his technical skills, but now I'm worried about his negative impact on the team.

Do you have any advice for me?

  • Since this is project management, what project management are you running? You mentioned that they decide themselves to let it slip for a long time (self organizing gone wrong) and you are mentioning sprints... that would indicate Scrum. However, you also talk of project managers and lead developers, both roles that Scrum does not have. How do you manage your projects exactly?
    – nvoigt
    Oct 24, 2021 at 16:26
  • Hi Arash, welcome to PM.SE. In the subject, you mention "other areas" whereas along the text you focus on documentation issues. Shall the summary be updated to be more consistent with the body of the question?
    – Tiago Cardoso
    Oct 24, 2021 at 17:54
  • @nvoigt Trello is our project management tool for game development teams. In scrum, there is no lead developer, but I think there is always a person who acts as a mentor.
    – Arash
    Oct 25, 2021 at 8:56
  • @TiagoCardoso This question can be updated, but I'd like to know the answer in other similar situations. When a teammate is good at the core skill but has difficulties in other areas,
    – Arash
    Oct 25, 2021 at 9:04
  • 1
    Well, so what is your position? If you are doing Scrum, what do the PO and SM say when the backlog item does not get done? Scrum should be about teamwork and getting things done, if the developer is able to postpone tasks until later, this does not seem to work very well.
    – nvoigt
    Oct 25, 2021 at 9:09

5 Answers 5


This is a situation most of us as project manager face in real life. The good part of this situation is that the issue and the reason are pretty transparent, and there is no lack of openness within the team. People who are technically strong may lack some other skills like in this case which is documentation.

Since the person has informed you about the disinterest in documentation, and that your effort to use voice typing has not given the impact you anticipated, this clearly shows that the person lacks skills to express himself/is highly concerned about his communication skills.

Better option, let him work in a pair with a lesser technically skilled person and let that person take care of the documentation part whereby he can focus on his strength and also review the work of the other teammate. Over a period of time osmotic knowledge sharing will happen within the team environment which can benefit both the individuals involved as well as the team as a whole.

  • Having no interest in an important part of a job is not a reason not to do it. People can learn to do things they are bad at, even more if it's not difficult but just plain boring. Having someone else doing this person's documentation is unfair to other people that don't like it either but forces themselves.
    – Jemox
    Dec 3, 2021 at 13:16

As a project manager, you want to take the most from people and at the same time offering an environment where motivation of knowledge workers is taken into account.

One of the key aspects of motivation is to understand people's aspirations. As the team member grows in his career, he'll need to evolve further from his technical skills. The path he wants to follow will define how much of documentation-related work is required. Besides, remember that working software (triumphs) over comprehensive documentation, so make sure the documentation required has a real and meaningful value. With that said, double check if he's willing to be a really lead developer. Maybe he prefers to stay as a developer (a excellent one, for the matter) but not leading (i.e. moving away from coding).

Also - challenge yourself: why do you need such documentation? Who will consume it? How other companies deal with similar challenges? I'm not advocating here about not documenting anything. I'm reminding you that sometimes a document is written to address a problem that should not exist in the first place (and in this sense, you might also want to read a bit about the Efficiency Paradox.

You might want to read about The Peter Principle. Also, the 8th Lean waste of TIMWOODS, "Skill Waste".


If you include a proper definition of documentation in the definition of done, it will start affecting this developer's performance. Then the developer will have two choices;

  1. Work properly on increasing their performance
  2. Start looking for another job

We don't want to see the second option happening, but it's not our choice but theirs. When managers compromise on the outputs, they become the team's standards, and we don't want that.

  • thanks,what do you mean by a proper definition of documentation ?
    – Arash
    Oct 25, 2021 at 9:12
  • You can create a list of items you are looking for when you check the documentation of your developers @Arash; they will be your "proper definition of documentation". Oct 26, 2021 at 11:59

All of us have weaknesses. This is his. You have two alternatives: replace him with someone else who posseses (maybe) both skills or keep him and mitigate his weakness with someone else. You have benefits, costs, and risks with both alternatives and it is your job to choose the best in this circumstance.

The devil you know....


You should try to make him understand the importance of documenting his work and delivering documentation to his team mate. Him having great technical skills doesn't prevent him to try to do the right thing. Let him know no one else can write about his work but him.

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