An enormous amount of time is wasted in e-mail. In my experience, much of it is driven by people at work who see no issue with penning short e-mail questions that take them 10 seconds to craft and send but require the recipient to spend hours responding. I usually just ignore these.
Have you hired people whom you think will not do the right thing unless you give them a bonus?
When the subject of bonus payments based on some measure comes up, and I push back against the concept I often hear the refrain that if we don’t bonus people to achieve a specific metric, they won’t push to achieve it.
Let’s flip this on its head and see how it sounds. Do we have people who will refuse to do a good job, refuse to do the right thing, unless it’s tied to some extra payment? If this is true are these the types of people we want? Mercenaries who will only fight for our customers, the company and their team when there is a stack of cash attached? A transactional relationship?
This type of employee isn’t what most people think of when they think of a well-performing employee or a great teammate is it?
I often hear objections when introducing new organizational concepts such as Agile to a management group. Things like a lack of “accountability” or “strategic thinking” on the part of the employees. The employees, they say, cannot work in a self-managed way. Chaos will ensue or something to that effect.
One question I’m fond of asking is “who exactly hired these people?” Isn’t management admitting its failure? They’ve failed by making poor hiring decisions. They’ve failed by not mentoring and growing the skill of their people. The bottom line is that even if everything these managers say comes to pass the first place I’m looking for a cause is the managers.
True, the structure is also a major driver of the problem and managers, especially mid-level managers are often operating in the environment created by those higher up the ladder. I also know that too often mid-level managers use that as an excuse for lack of leadership. They may have much room for maneuver within there groups. The high ups can’t watch everything after all.
Managers, even those in a toxic environment, assuming they choose to stay in that environment, should start asking what they can do to improve the situation rather than using the structure as an excuse.
This short video interview of Andy Hertzfeld is interesting from a purely historical context but it also gives a glimpse into how hardware and software engineers worked at the dawn of the personal computer revolution. It will sound familiar to anyone doing development today in an iterative fashion – no matter the specific framework.
One of the most exciting stories in the piece is about mouse acceleration. This feature is something so fundamental to the experience of using a GUI but not evident at the start. Putting work out in the world and seeing how it feels is the only way to detect these things.