August 13, 2018 Folks are sometimes surprised to learn that I started out working as a frontend engineer. I'd like to imagine it's because I'm so terribly knowledgeable about infrastructure, but I suspect it's mostly grounded in my unconscionably poor design aesthetic. Something that has stuck with me from that experience was feeling treated as a second-tier engineer: folks were unwilling to do any frontend work, but were careful to categorize it as trivial.
August 11, 2018 Building on the framework in "Designations, levels and calibrations", I wanted to discuss a number of special topics related to designing and running performance systems. These topics are particularly interesting to me because they tend to be the emergent, accidental properties that emerge from common performance management systems and behaviors. Because they're accidental, they surprise many managers early in their careers, and surprise is the cardinal sin of performance management.
August 10, 2018 One of the core responsibilities of management is selecting who to elevate as a role model, who to recognize as excellent, and who to ask to leave. At smaller companies, these decisions tend to be fairly ad-hoc, and over time they solidify into a formal performance management system. Many managers try to engage with these systems as little as possible, which I think is a shame. If you want to shape your company's culture, inclusion or performance, this is your most valuable entry point.
August 8, 2018 Long term, I believe that your career will be largely defined by getting lucky and the rate at which you learn. I have no advice about luck, but to speed up learning I have two suggestions: work at a rapidly expanding company, and make your peers your first team.
August 6, 2018 Recently I've had the chance to work with folks who are just starting to present to executives. Giving a presentation to senior leadership is a bit of a dark art: it takes a while to master, and most folks who do it well can't quite articulate how they do it. Worse yet, many folks who are excellent rely on advantages that resist replication: charisma, quick wit, deep subject matter expertise, or years of experience.