Performance Reviews epkatz

Rejoice, performance review season is upon us again. Is there anything less fun than carving out time to reflect on six months of your reports as your mind goes completely blank on all of your thoughts and conversations. I’ve made it through many of these seasons and my team hasn’t revolted yet (as far as I know) so I figured I’d share my own process.

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Advice to non-traditional candidates looking for their first job epkatz

Every few months, a friend will ask me if I’m willing to talk to someone they know who is in a bootcamp, graduated from a bootcamp, or is a self-taught programmer. They’re looking for their first job and they want advice. I’m always happy to talk to someone and if you’re reading this and in that situation, you should feel free to hit me up. But I want to take some of my thoughts and write them down.

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The different levels of ownership mentalities epkatz

This is a framework I try and use when explaining different levels to my team. This obviously doesn’t encompass the skills and experience necessary to advance levels. What I’m trying to convey here is a mentality that some people have and some don’t. The mentality itself is almost as important as the skills you acquire over time. For example, feeling responsible for the success of a project requires one to get good at learning how to communicate with a broad audience. So the levels as I’ve defined them for myself are Accountability, Responsibility, Ownership, and Vision.

The exact words I use don’t really matter. Many people will define this same idea using different words or some variation of them. It’s more important to keep track of what each level means with respect to the relationship to the work being done and the team.

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Be A Person First epkatz

The first time I met with a senior manager who would later become an advisor, she asked me what my philosophy on management was. I had no idea. Get shit done? Don’t screw up? She told me that her philosophy was to take care of her people no matter what. She said it flew in the face of everything most management books and training say. Which is that your responsibility was first to the company and then to the team. She didn’t care and said that’s what made her so successful (and she’s crazy successful). She asked me what my philosophy on testing was and I gave her a long rant (which I will write up one day). “If you have such a deep philosophy on testing, why don’t you have one on management,” she asked me. She’s right.

Thinking about my philosophy it boils down to “be a person first, manager second”. First, I make sure I behave as a thoughtful, ethical, and moral human would. Then I worry about all the other stuff. Or at least I try. Managers should think about their relationships in years, not weeks. I was thinking about that recently as I’ve gone through some unusual situations. I’ve had quite a few of them in my career so far. Blog posts, books, and manager trainings will only get you so far. I thought I could retrospect three situations and how I might handle them according to the “be a person first” mantra.

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The Monster Under The Bed epkatz

This week I was talking with someone at work and they seemed to be stuck trying to wrap their head around a new idea. I asked whether they spent time watching videos or googling. They mumbled a bit about not knowing much about it and then veered into a different option. This got me thinking about what I used to be like. How I used to be intimidated when I didn’t know something. This will probably only be applicable to a certain type of person so bear with me. Or completely ignore this.

Lots of people and cultures have some variation of the monster of the bed. Basically, when they’re a child they’re scared to go to sleep because there is a monster under the bed. They haven’t seen the monster but believe it’s there and are too scared to look. The fear of the unknown is so much worse than anything that could actually be there. There are many approaches to help a child (or adult) to cope with this fear and overcome it. In software, I think this manifests itself as being scared of a new tool or technology.

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