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Posts from the ‘Career’ Category

Times They Are a Changing

You could also file this under the category “Strange things are afoot at the Circle K.” ┬áNot much to say right now, but I will tease it with this video clip:

Know Your Interviewer

I recently went through an interview cycle where I was essentially a “C” in the RACI scheme. The role was a program manager on the business team, and I would be one of the primary interfaces from the technology team to assist in analysis, consultation and getting things done. Just as a side note, I think it’s great that the business and technology teams involve one another in the hiring process since our success really is tied together.

Back to the story – I had already interviewed a few people, and there were some people that might have been a good fit, but none were just blowing my doors off. Then, I interviewed one person who had found my Linked In profile and website and knew a lot about me. It took him a total of 5 minutes, and really won me over in the interview.

Why? Normally, I’m looking at someone’s past experience to dig in, ask questions, etc. If the candidate knows my background, he can better shape his answers, ask questions, etc. The interview was a good give and take, and at the end of the day I knew that he was genuinely interested in the position and likely willing to go the extra mile.

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Adventures in Offshoring

You never know what you are going to learn as you enter the world of outsourced software development. I’ve talked here in the past about the abuse of the traffic signal in status reports, picking a vendor, and a whole host of other considerations that need to be made. Nothing prepared me for this.

One key member (read: the only one who really knows how to get anything done) of our offshore team was in an accident the other day. Allegedly a bunch of guys were riding their motorcycles drunk, and ran into him. He was in a car. Apparently the rule is that the person in the bigger vehicle is the one at fault. So they started harassing him for money – to which he wanted to just handle it through insurance.

The story becomes strange when the drunk motorcyclists start having our guy arrested for non-payment. The police were there to arrest him when he showed up to work. Keep in mind – they hit him. So now the police have offered to take care of it, in exchange for a bribe. He doesn’t want to give them money either.

I think I would pay the bribe to the cops. What would you do?

Getting Your Ideas Off the Ground

A recent Harvard Business Review online article covered the “Five Powers that Get Ideas off the Ground.” This is an area that I find a lot of people, including myself, struggle with at times. Quite often an idea is vague or is complicated by a great deal of unknowns. As humans, we like to work off of certainties so that we know what direction we’re going. At work I try to get people moving by baking in step of “figure out where we’re going” into project plans. This gives the opportunity to further flesh out plan details while you go, while signalling to others reading the WBS that turn-by-turn directions will be spelled out once detailed planning is complete.

Kanter’s article points out a step that I overlooked above and one that is absolutely essential – showing up. She refines that as being physical presence, rather than the more nebulous approach of just being present in mind. She says:

There’s a well-known saying that 90% of success in life comes from just showing up. It’s a cliché because it’s true. Digital and other remote communications are efficient and helpful, but there’s much to be said for being there, face-to-face with other.

This is very true and something that I have personally experienced and subscribe to. Many people, myself included, enjoy working from home. But I do it sparingly. I don’t struggle with productivity, depression, or any of the other commonly cited reasons for not telecommuting; rather, I find that because I work on a team I get more done when with that team. It’s a true form of synergy. When people show up and speak up (two of the five powers), clarity begins to be added to the situation and actionable items begin to take shape. It may not be the whole road map, but at least next actions can be defined and worked on.

I highly recommend that you read the Five Powers that Get Ideas off the Ground to help you get your next idea off the ground.

Giving Good Feedback

One area I am attempting to become better at is giving feedback to both my peers, those whose work I supervise, and those I work for. I am a very analytical person and I have come to realize that I tend to observe a pattern and then try to digest it rather than simply expose that pattern. In other words, I’m looking for the answer. So I am working to simply give timely feedback to people rather than give them the answer.

Obviously there is much more to feedback than this small example. A recent article called “The art (and science) of giving good feedback” outlines a few rules for making feedback useful. To do this, it has to not only be timely and specific, but also not demotivating to the person receiving it. One surprising anecdote in rule #3 says to “praise the actions, not the individual.” This seemed somewhat strange, but in fact reinforces the things that made the person successful, thus giving some reference point to look back to when trouble is encountered.

The article has several other great rules and advice. Check it out: The art (and science) of giving good feedback