Thursday, December 23, 2004
Friday, December 17, 2004
Measurements for managers
I set myself up with a little grid printed on a piece of paper. I keep the paper right next to my computer and track where I spend my time a couple of weeks. I usually track 1/2 hour increments.
At the end of two weeks, I look at the data. Based on what I see, I make conscious choices about how I'm spending my time. I'm almost always surprised by some thing in the data.
I started doing this when I was working as a manager. Here are some of the things I looked at when I was in that role:
Knowing where my time went helped me make choices to spend my time on higher value activities.
What other things would you look to discover how well you are using your time?
Monday, December 13, 2004
More on separating pay from performance
My suggestion didn't get much response on the thread, but one person wrote me off-list to ask how to distribute bonuses, if not based on performance.
Here's how I responded:
"...let me start with the ideas that underpin my thinking:
Focusing rewards on individuals works against collaboration. If competition is the desired end, then individual rewards work, though often to the detriment of team goals and even corporate goals.
I'd look at what is behind superior performance in your group... is the person truly outstanding based on objective data and in the assessment of peers? or is his situation different? or is there something else behind exceptional performance? I've seen people who look great because the work *against* their peers, by withholding information, refusing help, etc.
Some people *are* exceptionally gifted. Studies in our field show huge productivity differences between the best and worst programmers (Weinberg, and Lister/DeMarco have done work on this).
If you want to do something for outstanding performance (based on data, and understanding of what is behind the outstanding performance), recognize that their market value is higher, and move them to a higher pay grade.
You could divide the bonus pool equally, or give it as an equal % of salary."
I'd add this:
It seems to me that we've come to confuse performance reviews with feedback.
Somehow the review process is supposed to give people information to help them improve. But ranking, rating, and performance evaluations are judgments not feedback. Once you pronounce a judgement, people are less likely to hear whatever feedback you have to offer.
The fact that I don't think performance review/rating are helpful doesn't mean I think companies should pay good money (and give raises) to people who aren't doing their jobs acceptably.
When people don't have the skills to do the job, and they have the capacity and desire to develop the skills in the timeframe necessary, work on building skills.
A person who is not doing his/her job and is not interested in improving does not have a very high market value. Why pay them at all? Move them off the team.
Oh, dear. I'm on a rant.
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
Retrospectives on Agile Projects
Last evening, we met with the Portland Retrospectives Group and asked what questions and issues they would like see covered in a new book on retrospectives. Some of what we heard were topics we'd planned to cover, and some we hadn't thought of.
Which made us curious...
What are the topics and issues would you like to see covered?
What are the challenges you are experiencing with retrospectives on agile projects?
What themes keep coming up?
Do you have any great stories? We'd love to hear them.
Send me email.
Friday, December 03, 2004
Are your questions helping you?
So I was attracted to Marilee Adams' book Change Your Questions Change Your Life and picked it up to read on a recent plane trip. It's an easy read and makes a worthwhile point: the questions we ask -- of ourselves and others -- shape our possibilities and options for action.
Adams' says there are two basic paths we can take in the questions we ask, Learner or Judger.
Judger questions are questions like:
Learner questions are questions like:
Learner questions open up possibilities, Judger questions close down possibilities.
We all go to Judger questions sometimes, but when we catch ourselves in judging, we can switch to Learner questions -- and experience a different outcome.
I've tried a few little experiments with myself asking different questions. The questions I choose really do influence my mood and my outcomes.