One to one and many to many

Does the prospect of a one-on-one with your manager make you energized or anxious? Are your morale events packed with peers or attended only by slackers and scandal spreaders? Chances are one-on-ones are at best bearable for you and morale events are rare, wasteful, or both. Wasting one-on-one time and morale events is inexcusable. It…

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Don’t panic

In my last column, “Spontaneous combustion of rancid management,” I talked about how managers should restrain themselves from randomizing their employees. But what if you are on the receiving end? As an employee, how do you best respond to a random request, or requests of any kind, that aren’t directly related to your current task?…

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Spontaneous combustion of rancid management

What’s good for you isn’t always good for your group. Obvious, right? You can call it local versus global optimization. You can get geek philosophical about it and say, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few…or the one.” Or you can simply notice the difference you feel between zany ideas from…

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Hire’s remorse

Looking for that perfect candidate to fill a role? Good, that means you’ll never steal a great candidate away from me. I love it when industrial-strength stupidity renders my competition comatose. You can’t hire the perfect candidate, but please keep trying. Maybe after six months I’ll even get your open headcount. This isn’t a case…

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Right on schedule

My older son can now drive. This adds two new worries to my life—how ancient I feel and thoughts of my son in a ditch somewhere. To mitigate the second worry, my wife and I enforce a curfew and insist my son call if he’s running late. The other night, he arrived home 20 minutes…

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20 years together

  Eric AsideIt’s my 20th Wedding Anniversary. My wife and I are celebrating in the San Francisco Bay area, where we first started living together a few blinks of an eye ago. We’ll watch a ball game, see some sites, and visit Tesla Motors to check out a model of the sedan we ordered. Long…

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The VP-geebees

It’s the end of the fiscal year. Most engineers associate this time with performance review season, but for principal-level engineers and higher it’s also executive review season. Time to waste weeks of your life writing slides for executive presentations that will be rewritten five times before they are never presented. Executive reviews aren’t a waste…

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I hardly recognize you

The annual engineering awards are being given out this week at the Microsoft Engineering Forum. Annual reviews will soon follow. These are great opportunities to recognize impactful work. It’s too bad most managers are tragically ignorant of how to recognize their employees or truly why they should. If you are a manager, you’re probably relishing…

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It starts with shipping

Call me “old school” but I believe in shipping. Trying isn’t enough. Getting close isn’t enough. Good ideas aren’t enough. You’ve got to ship. It used to be that interviews started with, “What have you shipped?” If you hadn’t shipped recently, “Why?” Why? Because you can’t deliver customer value if you don’t deliver. You can’t…

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Your World. Easier

During difficult economic times like these, people tend to whine less about common complaints that now seem trite. Mostly, I’m relieved not to hear how much e-mail is in Ingrid’s Inbox, how Brian broke the build again, and how Suresh’s service schedule slipped successive sprints. However, it’s during difficult days that we should patch plaguing…

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