The first few weeks of the year can bring fairly different paces to a startup. Some companies left for the holidays with their Q1 planning set and they are slowly ramping up steadily from the holidays to execute. Other orgs are just starting to get their Q1 and year-long plans set for 2020. The start of the year is upon, and so the one thing both of those organizations have in common is that they are probably gearing up for performance reviews. Whether you are kicking off the cobwebs or you’re hustling and struggling to clear some downtime to write, here are my tips for making the most out of the practice.
There’s a thing that happens when an engineer gets bored. They’ll be on a project, and instead of making the best decision for the work at hand, they’ll make the decision that’s interesting. They’ll make the decision that fights boredom. This typically involves writing some code from scratch that’s imminently available, extensible, and supported as a library or even three. As a manager, this is a tough spot to be in, but there is a counter to this. The idea is to change the problem. Instead of asking the engineer to solve the problem at hand, make the problem choosing amongst libraries available and building from scratch. Make the problem the choice. Changing the problem can be a powerful tool.
A couple of years ago, I made it a goal to read more. I had been reading lots of blog posts, which counts in some ways, and Twitter, which counts in no ways, but I wanted to start focused on reading the list of books that were piling up on my proverbial nightstand. In 2018, I upped my goal to read three books a month. Below are my ten favorite things I read, listed in chronological order, last year.
There are lots of good types of One on Ones. There’s the Breakthrough One on One. That’s a tough one to beat. There’s the Problem Solving One on One. The One Level Deeper One on One is always energizing. The Look Ahead One on One is crucial, and when it’s done well, it becomes the most important one you do. These one on ones are energizing. You leave reminded of why you signed up for this. Of course, these aren’t the only kinds of one on ones you’ll have.
A product leader was asking me how I approach management. Confidently, I answered, “I believe in autonomy. I try and translate the needs of the business to the team and then give them the autonomy to make the right decisions.” He nodded and asked me which decisions. I stumbled. I didn’t really have an answer. What does the right amount of autonomy look like?