Performance Reviews in Tech | Rustam Alashrafov & Jethro Sloan | Beyond Coding Podcast #154

Performance Reviews in Tech | Rustam Alashrafov & Jethro Sloan | Beyond Coding Podcast #154

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Hi everyone! My name is Patrick Akil and if you're interested in performance reviews, this episode is for you. We share stories on what we've seen, discuss the pros and cons, and ideate on the most perfect system we can think of. Joining me today friends of the show, Jethro and Rustam. They're the perfect people to have this discussion with, so enjoy. Beyond Coding. Yeah, one of the things I was thinking of lately, and it's also been a discussion within our team calls, it's performance reviews.

And when you're talking about, let's say, the diverse team where you need to accommodate for people's different backgrounds and accommodate for that diversity in there. Is there then a way in which you've seen performance reviews done well? Because for me, any type of system in performance reviews, I've always seen the upside and the downside, but people usually just don't look at the downsides and say, this is the system we've always had. So this is the system we're going to go with. What have you seen kind of work well in performance reviews when it comes to systematic implementations? Yeah, that's a very good question. So in my experience, what works well is, having more conversations with your team, with other people in your team, I guess with the traditional kind of performance review, when we have performance review once a year, when we gather all the data right throughout the year, get some feedback at the end of the year, maybe, hey, how did it go with this client or how did go on this project? You gather all of this and then you assess it, right? You give a review of the performance that's delayed. That's the same as we when we talk about giving feedback to people.

Right? If there is, behavior we need to change, the feedback needs to be timely. It shouldn't come three months or six months later after the things have happened. So I see that what works very well is having the performance review much more often right there in consultancy.

So we usually work project based. So in my opinion that for us, we need to at least have, performance reviews, let's say after every client and work. Okay. Right.

And if of course, your client work is longer than half a year or a year, then of course we need to implement that. There's some performance you happening in between. So we have, I worked at Deloitte previously, and that's why we had quarterly reviews. And those quarterly reviews actually helped a bit with, with this process. There were the fix, the certain dates, which I was not a big fan of because sometimes you yeah, let's say in April you have a performance review, but you just started the project in the April. What are you going to discuss? Because you were on a bench maybe for three months. Right.

And that's not great, but maybe having a bit more floating reviews would be better. It was already a good step forward to have them four times a year rather than once, but having that good, better timing would be even a step further. Yeah, but four times a year with regards to let's say, management and having that overview, gathering all the feedback and then actually making decisions where people actually see change in their salary or what they would earn in those quarters. Could you see four changes a year, for example? No. So that's unfortunately another thing that didn't happen there. And that's an idea that floats in my mind recently.

Why don't we reward people for their performance based on a project or based on a quarterly in this case? Yeah, that did not happen, in my time. So Deloitte, maybe they've changed this, I don't know. I haven't been there for a while, but no, it was not really happening. So the actually the reward that you get would be let's say averaged out throughout the performance of the year.

Right. You would they would collect the data from the three and four performance reviews reporter. And then they would give a reward.

So it was not really what. Yeah. Let's say is that in line with your thinking as well.

Generally when we're talking about, let's say, the ideal performance review system. Yeah. So I think working in consultancy, we have a model that means that, our how do you say our compensation is, kind of in ratio with how much we charge externally. Right. So that is the, the raw numbers of how it works on most consultancy.

And I think in general, when you look at work, people always say, what's the output versus, how much should you be compensated versus the output? And I think in our case, the main issue I see is that the output is not proportional to what's being put in for everyone. So that's the hard part. I would say, if you look to like a traditional, manufacturing plant where someone was producing ten times as much as the other person, and you're saying that that's an easy way to to map that, but it doesn't work. in our, in our industry like that. Right. It's quite difficult to to put that into metrics, especially because you're working at different clients.

So in my opinion, I think we need to figure out how we can make that transparent, because in order to have that journey of going from where you are to where you want to be, you need to know what that end goal looks like. How can you how can you directly influence the amount that you want in your in your life? Right. That's what I would think is is the most important. So giving people the power to directly influence that would be would be the step one. I don't know how to achieve that. That's quite a difficult question to ask.

and then the second one, I agree with Rustam, about having, chickens more often. I think the way I would see it is from more of a, like a supportive leadership in a sense that, people in my team, for instance, they want to achieve more. So how can I help them achieve more? And in order to do that, it can't just be like one big grading or one big test at the end of the year to see how much you've done right there. That doesn't work. If you look at even in schools, if you put one test that's worth 100%, people just generally cram studied at the last minute and then they write the test. Right.

And that's not really good for their growth. I would say it's probably better to do work throughout the whole year and trying to improve yourself step by step, because consistency leads to results. So if you if you want to be consistent, then you you need to be making sure that you're doing, all the things that you want to do to get to that point. and I think leadership can help you by saying, okay, this is what you want to achieve.

How can we get you there? What are the steps that we can take together? What are the steps that you can do? How can the company support you? And I think in that way it turns from, okay, you want to just get the most amount of money. It becomes a partnership between leadership and the employees. and you work together to achieve the result. Because if we all, increase our, our cost per hour, for instance, then that means that everyone's going to get more salary. So what can we do to make sure that we are supporting the goals of the people and achieving the goal that we all want to achieve? Yeah.

So our ideal system would have, let's say, more frequent reviews than just once a year. It can be twice a year, it could be quarterly plus enabling people in achieving certain goals. So defining milestones together and making sure people are in a position to achieve those milestones, then it's similar to what I've seen. Also comparing with IHG, what they do is they set OKRs and OKRs. People always say it's outcome driven.

So you focus on you define OKRs on a project level where you are actually helping, contributing in whatever way in that team. And also on a personal level. So what do you want to achieve as an outcome? Do you want to be more assertive when it comes to your communication? Do you want to be more handy when it comes to cloud technology? I do think only focusing on outcome also has a downside, because if you don't focus on kind of the output of that, then how can you reach the outcome? Right? Outcomes are always outcomes based on your output basically. So it needs to be a combination of those. But what would you say then? A good metric would be defining what you need to do to reach certain milestones.

Or how do we enable people to then be the best version of themselves? I'm actually curious about the change. So just to make it clear, you said that they set the team goals and the personal goals they set for one person within a team, they set team goals. So how do they contribute to certain goals that the team has? That would be their personal OKRs.

Right. Yeah. And how do they then. improve the collaboration within the team.

Like doesn't it create the competition between the people in the team? no, because it's still a team aspect. It's their personal OKRs. But people might have the same personal OKRs to contribute to, because they need to be in alignment with what the team is contributing to. And they also have team OKRs. I mean, I have product, okay. So let's say yeah.

And what happens if you reach as a team your product. Okay. I haven't gotten to that point yet. We define them quarterly. Yeah.

and the previous okay. Ours actually got already wiped because of new senior management and different definitions of OKRs. Maybe a different vision as well. But I think it's just I don't even know what happens. We'll find out in a few months. Yeah. It's also interesting. Right.

You just mentioned that the OKRs are defined quarterly. Yeah. And then the team and the personal goals are often rewards are yeah defined in once a year. So or the interesting right that we do it better. Like we are more agile with the projects than with the, with the people in in those projects. No, the personal ones are a combination.

So I work with people that are abroad and they have a different system also than the people in in NL. All right. So abroad has once a year and then I have the conversation of but we do quarterly and you do once a year like there's a mismatch there. And then I think Anil also does quarterly or they do half yearly.

So it's one of those. All right. Yeah I haven't seen the system in too much effect. nor do I know kind of how they're going to measure what the outcomes were or what the person's contribution in output was.

But I do know that's the system in place and they are kind of happy with it, or at least experimenting with it. No. But back to your question. What would be a good OKR actually to define for people? I think it's really dependent on the nature of the work we do it should. I really like that they are related to the project goals? Yeah.

So I think having them fluid and changing them over time, depending on the project you are in, right. would be very useful. So aligning the goals basically of the company and the project with the goals of the people will create a better, coherence, cohesion between personal goals. So people are even more motivated to maybe improve their skills, maybe learn something that is, related to the project. And also it opens the possibility for people maybe to say that a, the goals of this projects are not aligning with my personal goals. I should those people should be able to maybe, change to a different project where they will feel much more motivated.

I think Google does it very well. And we heard a lot of stories how people join Google, and then they sit there for a long time without having a concrete role to do. And that's the investment from Google side, because they really believe in the freedom of people choosing what they can do.

They give them a lot of freedom. They make their life in the office as easy as possible so that they can focus on the projects they really care about, because they really believe that when people align with their personal goals, that's where the most innovation and most productivity happens. However, of course, we also heard some stories where people never found their passion. And, that's I guess that's the risk Google takes. Yeah. Then you're in limbo.

Limbo in the system. Yeah. I think Google is also a big fan of 360 reviews. Right? Where within your sphere of influence, you ask not just the people that you like. And that will give you a good review, but everyone that you've kind of collaborated with. And I don't know if it's everyone, everyone or if it's just random based on, kind of the project or the collaborations you've had. But I do like that system.

We don't have anything in place currently for a review process like that. No, it's all optional. Yeah, there are some very interesting examples.

I think, I was also reading about this and either three M company, this company too, you know, from tapes and gluing or it was about to sell, Salesforce. So when, whenever there on the project, the actually the team gives the review for each other. They basically select an MVP of the month or of the quarter, and that person is being rewarded. So managers completely not involved in the process is the team collaboratively decides who was the most valuable person for whatever the period of time is. And that person is rewarded, sometimes financially, sometimes by giving extra free time or any other benefits.

And so that's very interesting idea actually, because then you can still reward people, you improve collaboration, and then people decide themselves who who deserves this time the most and benefits. What do you think about that idea? Yeah, I didn't know that. One of the things I do know about Salesforce is that it prides itself in promoting people often. So when you're there within a year, probably you will reach a promotion, or at least that's how it was. And now I think it's within a year or two.

But comparing that to other companies, you might go three years and not reach a promotion. I mean, in our organization we don't even have promotions. We just have the same level.

And then we talk about performance. But at least Salesforce then correlates it to a promotion. And it's one of their distinguishing factors. If you come work with us most of the time, within a year you'll get a promotion.

And I think that might have to do with them kind of how they review. I don't know if it's an effect of the reviewing structure, but I do think it's a benefit and it's what draws people to Salesforce in that way. Yeah. No, I'm just wondering, though, of the team of people, what about favoritism? Or because if there's a people, a group of people, not always, but a lot of time people form, favorites and friendship, connections. And if you have a system where people are self-promoting inside of the team or have the team members judging at the team members, is it always going to be fully unbiased? So I also wonder about maybe they should also be an external party.

I'm not saying the team shouldn't self-promote. I think that's always good, but I do think there should also be, someone to have an objective, unbiased, view over the situation, because that's valuable too. Yeah, yeah, especially when we go back to your point, Jethro, where you have people from diverse backgrounds that might not speak up as much. I think if you have, like, a really homogenous team, then probably decision making is easier because you have that homogenous mindset. But the more diversity you have, it's harder to then be very fair.

Inequality. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I think that works. Not for every team, of course. And the size matters in this case, I think the bigger the team is, the easier it is to kind of mitigate the risks of people, building like coalitions. Yeah, basically, like democracy works. but indeed, it's a very good point, and I didn't think about it.

What happens if, someone basically. Yeah, is, has prejudice against the people? I guess that's that's why you still need to have all the HR processes and, managers in place, right, to make sure that this doesn't happen and they don't then want to make an impression that that's the only thing they do. Right. But that's like one of the things how they promote, or encourage collaboration in their teams. Yeah. I think the more I mean, not always, but more systems are usually also a better outcome. Right?

So if you do that within the team, plus you have your standard managerial performance review. It might contribute one to the other rather than what have one isolated one in that sense. so that I guess is also trade off with time investment. Right.

Because all of this process actually cost a lot of money for the companies, because you need to spend a lot of hours managers need to spend a lot of time on making sure that all the processes are running smoothly for the performances and stuff. So it's always a trade off. Okay. How many? You can of course implement a thousand process in your team and say that it's it's good to have as many process as possible, but what is the cost? Like how many hours do we need to invest into actually implementing those process correcting yeah, is the cost is always an interesting one. And I think people overestimate the effect of cost because losing people because of, let's say, inequality or bad performance reviews or people not feeling valued, it doesn't have to be even on a monetary basis, just the feeling of someone saying, you did a great job and you get rewarded with either free time, a day off, or actually compensation financially gets underestimated.

And then the recruitment fees of getting new people in, and the contribution of the rest of the team and educating that person, then just landing within an organization might take a year for them to find their groove. That's a way bigger cost, at least in my head. Yeah, yeah, I think so too.

I think, we really need to value the people that are inside of your team. And what this conversation is bringing to my mind is that this your question earlier was that what's the perfect system? I think there was everything like in all systems, there is no such thing as a perfect system, right? There's always negatives and positives to any implementation, that you, that you choose. Right. So this is for software systems. This is for yeah. Team systems or whatever kind of system you would like to look at. And I think with, performance reviews, you need to really look at the team that you have. So for instance, you mentioned homogenous team. That's really nice.

If you have, teams deciding for themselves, for instance, but maybe in a different team you need to have a different system. So I think what you need to look at is how the system will affect the people inside of your team and what you're trying to achieve. Right. Why are you why are you doing performance reviews? It's not, something to to motivate people or is it? Or what is your actual goal with having performance reviews? Are you trying to make sure that everyone feels safe and comfortable and happy and that produces the best work? Well? Are you really trying to grind out as much results out of people as you can? And I'm not saying either one is wrong or right. I think that you need to look at yourself and the company that you're working, and you need to make a decision on what's best for for your situation.

And that needs to be a discussion, right? It can't just be a one person from the top saying, this is how we need to do it. And I don't care about any other decisions when the other one else's feelings. I think that's where a lot of the time it goes wrong, because people don't feel like they fit into the system.

And if you make it an open conversation, you may come to the same decision, but at least people have been included in the conversation, so they feel like they're heard and they're on board. And I think that's important. So what you're saying is that having people feel heard, even if it's not compensation wise, just just the fact that you're listening to what someone has to say already validates them inside of the company because they feel like my opinion actually matters. And I think that's what really that's that's really important inside of the decision that you need to make about compensation or performance reviews or however you want to see it.

Yeah, I think that might be like the human touch that is sometimes missing when we're talking about performance reviews, right? When you said, okay, why do we do performance reviews? What sprang to my mind is businesses have goals and especially in, let's say, a tech landscape where competitiveness is you can find it everywhere. Basically, if you don't innovate or reinvent or deliver within your own organization, then your competitors might might outpace you. At least that's the, let's say, doomsday thought in that way.

So then you get paid to contribute to the company goals and you get measured also in how much you contribute to that. Now, for me, it's kind of the definition of a performance review, but it goes beyond that, right? Because people want a place where they feel valued. They want a place where they feel belonging. It's not just a an organization with a specific, systematic goal. It's a group of people trying to achieve something. And whether you get paid financially, you're going a different way.

You also have nonprofits. It's a sense of fulfillment that you need, which is not always monetary. Yeah. I think if you look at you spoke about Google and they did the project Aristotle, review of all the teams. And there's three points. I can't remember them exactly, but it's the last three points that they basically came to.

And all three of those points basically speak to purpose like value of work, how valued you feel your contributions are to the company. Those two things feel like purpose to me, and they sound exactly like purpose. Right. And are you are you looking at that when it comes to performance review? Because I feel that, Google is a good example of this. They don't necessarily look at what your output is. They look at how how they can make sure that you're the happiest person or the you have the least barrier of entry to be able to contribute to the organization. Right?

I hear stories about even they'll do their own laundry for you. You can bring your laundry to work, and they'll do that for you just so that you. That's one less thing that you have to do in your private time. So they're really trying to maximize, the happiness and the people's ability to contribute. Yeah. And is the business looking at it from that perspective? Right.

Because it's easy to say, yeah, okay. Performance reviews. He has the people run as fast as you can. Right. But are you are you making sure that they have the best running shoes, or are you making sure that they have the best training or you making sure that they have, all the necessary tools to achieve what you're you're expecting them to achieve? And I think that part is often missing. it's interesting because there's a difference between, let's say, organizations focusing on the outcome or in your example, what Google Google+ is enabling people, making sure their output is as effective and efficient in whatever they're doing, and then trusting in whatever output comes out of that is the right output. Because you I mean, you invest in the people, you should allow them to think of their own.

And then whatever outcomes comes out of that, that's the trust you put in them. Yeah, I think I've worked in 5 or 6 different countries now and in many different offices. I've been in consultancy twice in my life already for over half my career.

I have never really been an organization where someone comes in to try and destroy everything and burn it to the ground, right? That normally if they're unhappy, that that is a side effect. But I think people's motivation is always to do the right thing. Even when you have conversations with people and you see, technical discussions that become heated, it's not because the other person doesn't like the other person or thinks bad thoughts about them. They just very passionate about they their opinion.

And they want because they want to do the right thing, right? Passion comes from wanting to do the right thing. and I think most people have that. And we need to trust people to, to believe that the passion that they have will translate into the work that we need. I, I generally agree that most of the people have good intentions. However, I've personally seen teams where there's, a couple of people in teams who are not as involved with the project with the team as the rest of the teams. So they're kind of, freeloading in a way.

on the other members, have you seen that? And what's your experience with it? Yes. I think that there is no perfect way to say that I'm using a blanket statement like everyone, but. Okay, maybe I should change my statement to the majority of people come in to do the right thing. There are some people and some outliers. Of course they always are. Maybe I was too, dogmatic in my in my in my words there, but I meant that majority of teams that I've worked in, the majority of people want to do the right thing.

And I think in that way, if you have a culture where doing the right thing is how you create your team environment, then if there are people, that are not contributing, they'll see it themselves and either up the game or feel like they don't fit. And that's that's what I've seen happen. If you if you really create a team that's focused on delivering value.

And I think that's what we all need to look at, right? Everyone wants to deliver value or that's what we should all strive to do. in our work, because of what's the point, if you're doing something that no one's using or that doesn't, that doesn't make anyone's life easier because we're in when we're in software, right? That's normally what we do is try and make people's lives easier. And that's often what people forget is at the end user, you're really just trying to make someone's life easy without it. All that software, people can do their jobs.

But if you putting a system and you really want them to to make their life easier and you're trying to help, the business go forward. and in that way, you need to make sure that you're focusing on delivering that. And if you have a team whose mentality is to to deliver value, then I think the people who are not in line with that value will maybe drop off. Or they'll realize that in order to be successful in the team, they need to get aligned with the value. and they will they'll they'll shift the temperament to that value. Is that also what you've seen the storm in, in that people either, let's say, hop on board with the enthusiasm and energy of the team when it comes to achieving team goals, or they realize that this environment might not be a good fit for them.

You know what? What I've seen multiple times as people get comfortable in the position they are, maybe they're not as ambitious, maybe they're happy just with, whatever they get and they want to do a minimum amount of work and just like been the team. So I've seen that. And I think the the challenge is there to recognize that. So I believe that we still need to track basically somehow the performance of individuals. So when you talk about promoting the whole team together and making sure that people collaborate and work as a team, team, we still need to see and someone needs to be able to recognize and those people which are losing their motivation, maybe not following up. So I think like when they attended the when the talk to the lead seminar, there was another presentation where they said that in their company I forget what company it was, but they they have a very flat structure for everyone in the same role, makes the same amount of money and the expect everyone has great performance.

So we don't really judge. You don't get any bonuses or any rewards for your extraordinary performance in team. So we're all very curious how that actually works in practice. And I was thinking about this examples. Right. Okay. What if not everyone in the team that already got in that position, what if they're not interested in and I'm very curious how they do it.

But I really believe that individual performance still matters. And we do need to look at it and recognize those signs early. Right.

And often I think there you mentioned that people start to lose motivation. And we actually yes, we need to recognize it and go and see what can we do to help them gain the motivation again, to help them get back on track. Because often this, like once people lose their motivation, then it turns slowly into, okay, I'm not interested in this. I'm just sitting here just to get my salary and yeah, let's say, float with the team, right? It doesn't usually happen overnight.

So there are maybe some bigger issues behind it. So we do need to recognize it. And try to help the people. has one of you experience that or you kind of were in your position and maybe not as motivated as the beginning, more so trending towards coasting, because I feel like if I look at my own kind of journey, the times I changed just briefly before that, or even maybe for a longer period that I would like to admit, I was kind of getting bored or getting fed up with this routine, then obviously at some point made the change to spice things up again. But it does happen, at least for me as well as one of you experienced that as well? Absolutely. I think it happens to me quite often.

I get bored tomorrow, but that's why I'm in consultancy and I actually have, I'll decide. I can choose when to end my assignment. Luckily. Yeah, and go to the new one.

But I've noticed it. And indeed, usually it means that we are not in the flow anymore. And the assignment there gets too easy, too boring, or it's too repetitive, which is kind of, the same thing. And then, I often try to look for new challenges within the client, right within the project I'm in.

And if that doesn't happen for some period of time, then I start to look outside. Yeah. What about you, Jethro? Yeah, I have the exact same thought as as wisdom. I am motivated by challenges.

And, the bigger the challenge, the greater the motivation for me. So I recognize that in myself. that is the main reason why I'm in consultancy as well is because, I like to open up new domains. I need to I like to dive into difficult situations. Normally in consultancy we don't get the easy assignments.

If everything's going nice and smooth, they generally don't call in consultants. It's normally when things are not going so smooth. So I like this challenge. and I think that's what's really important for me is what motivates me, is, is the challenge itself.

So I try and focus in on those things. And I do the same as with them. Look for challenges internally. normally I stay on a project for no longer than a year. that's generally my time frame, because I feel like six months is, enough to get on board and start making contributions.

but then I think the six months after that is almost more important, because that's when you can see the fruits of the labor that you've put in in the first six months. So if I leave before then, then I feel like I've shortchanged myself because I don't get to see the the results of the hard work that I've put in. So I really like to feel the, like, see, how things are going. so I'd like to choose a year. and in that way, I think I also agree with with wisdom that not everyone is always going to be the super motivated person to to do things. That's important to note.

but also it depends on what kind of person they are, right? Because not everyone is super motivated and some people just like to come in and do the work that's required of them and and leave at the end of the day. That's also okay. I think the performance reviews are good for that. And if someone is doing that and expecting to get the best performance review ever, then I think you need to have a serious conversation with them because if they're just doing the bare minimum, then they can't expect anything more than the bare minimum, right? That's, I think, a bit unfair on on their expectation side, for what the company can give them if they want to go above and beyond in and make sure that they're nailing everything, then that's going to require a bit of extra effort, right? It's not going to, you know, just going to be able to come in and pull some tasks off the backlog and finish those for the day and then leave that you probably should get, a decent compensation for the salary that they've agreed upon.

But if you really want to move forward, you need to be doing something different. You can't expect to to get something different if you're not doing something different yourself. And I think taking responsibility for your own situation in those cases is what I would say is the best way to to look at it, because you need to say I'm the one that's in the situation. What can I do differently to achieve that? And then look to the company to help you achieve anything that you want to achieve. So you can say for yourself, I want to do this different, how can I how can the company support me in doing this different thing? And I think that's that's the way to look at it. I wonder because the trend in the industry is to make sure that your people are developing and, yeah, learning and evolving over time.

All right. So I wonder if there's a place, for people who don't want to, develop in the industry, right. Because if you look at, like companies like Google and stuff, they put a lot of emphasis on the development, and they put a lot of effort into motivating people to get out of the boundaries, motivating them to learn new skills and etc.. So I wonder, how do those companies would they agree with you? Like, is there actually a place for people who don't want to develop or don't want to be? yeah. When they're happy in the place they are and they do their jobs, they finish the task, but they're not interested in the next promotion. They're not interested in the bonuses or anything extra, and they're just there to do their job and stay like, is it good investment from the company side to have these people on board and to keep them in a place? They are the only example where I've seen that is with people that are like close to their pension or not have been in the industry for a long, long time.

And there are like, okay, these new technologies, I stick with what is established. Also, knowing the organization, they're probably not going to move if the organization doesn't lay them off. Basically, no, because they're grounded.

They're they know a lot just by having been in the organization. So their value is also the knowledge of hierarchy, politics, dynamics, culture. And they can leverage that.

So they might not have to put extra emphasis in learning new technologies because their time here is not going to span, let's say, another 20 years. That's the only example where I've seen that and where an organization also says, okay, this is it. We have people that are super fast and eager, more so younger of age, and then people that are more steady but without those people, things would also collapse.

For me, it's not only about technology. I think that you give an example of the people who don't want to learn new technology, but they still contribute a lot by their cultural values, but by the organization, and they probably still play a vital role within the organization. Yeah, it would be more interesting to see, like, I think talking about the people who are, let's say, in a similar position, but they're doing their min min, the bare minimum to be there. Right? So it's not only learning new technologies, but also being involved within the company, helping the new people. Maybe. Right.

Maybe they don't want to, do that. Maybe they just want to, like, finish the task board that we just talked about. Right. And finish the, backlog for, for, for today and be done and not being involved with other people, not sharing their knowledge, not got participating in the culture and not improving in those ways either. I don't I cannot think of a situation where that was the case.

There would be kind of the same situation where the people didn't want to learn new technologies. It would be the same for like new organizational structures, or they would be more so, let's say negative towards either positive change or just experimentation. Experimentation in general, and also processes where they would be like, okay, this is how we've always done it. Why do we need this new thing? You know, rather sticking to what let's say is effective and has proven itself rather than trying out new things to improve? Yeah. What about you, Jethro? What have you seen? Yeah. So I think it's about two things. Right?

So first of all, we spoke about technology. So if you look at polarizing example, we've mentioned both of them Meridian this talk. So Google would be the, the forefront of of making sure that they're in front of innovation. Right.

And then you look at a bank which some banks still use COBOL developers. Right. And if you think back to ten years ago, everyone was like, no, I don't want to do COBOL anymore. I want to progress my, my, my career. But imagine everyone did that and there was no more COBOL developers.

Some banking systems would have to stop because they could not. There's no one to support those systems. So there's always going to be a need for, a guru in, in certain kind of technologies. Right. So it's not necessarily a bad thing that people, don't want to learn new technologies. If you really happy with one and you want to be an expert in that one, I don't think that that's necessarily a bad thing. I think there's room for that in the environment.

when the market. The second point, with Google is that if you're one of those people who wants to contribute the bare minimum, you probably won't lost at Google. They're an American company, so they can probably fire you just for firing sake.

So you probably not going to loss at a company like that. And maybe it's not the right environment for you. There might be some environments, like a bank, for instance, where your expertise are valued and that you probably are going to change your expertise in the next ten, 20 years because they always going to need those expertise. And that's probably a better situation for you to work in. So I think it comes down to the person and recognizing what kind of situation they want to be in, right? They need to take responsibility and say, I want to be, on this technology, and I want to be the guru in this technology and stay and stay where I am.

then you also need to assess, am I in the right environment that allows me to do that? You can't expect, Google to all of a sudden stop innovation just to make one employee happy, right? That's not that's not the company. You also have to understand the company that you work for. and if you align with those values and want to continue in that company, you also need to be part of that company, and contribute in the way that the company sees meaningful value. And I think this comes down to the roles and responsibilities that you have.

Right. So if you're a senior and it's expected of you to coach juniors, and now all of a sudden you're not coaching juniors, you're not even doing the bare minimum, you're doing less than the bare minimum because it was expected of you. All of a sudden, though, if you have a company where it was not expected of you and now it is expected that would be, I would say, a situation where you'd say you. I was not expected to do this before, but now you're asking me to do this. You have two choices.

You can say either I should be compensated for for for the new work that I'm doing. Because I think that's fair. or you say, okay, maybe this is not the place for for me anymore because I don't really want to be doing that. Yeah.

So I think those are the kind of situations you need to look at. so it's more in a company, by company basis. Have I seen, this kind of situation on a personal level? Not really. Most people who are, gurus or domain experts, let's call them, on certain parts of organizations are generally happy in the role because they're needed. Right? Everyone knows who's the person to talk to about the shopping carts, and that gives them a high, sense of purpose. So I don't really see these people, feeding unfulfilled in, in those kind of roles.

It's more on the technological side that I see, people dropping off because they don't want to progress in a different technology than that. What? They're comfortable. Yeah. How is it kind of working with the people that are either coasting or not as enthusiastic, let's say, as other people in the team or even you as an individual, because I feel like I have a hard time with that sometimes. And then especially with the letting go part, because at some point you realize you can't really change someone's ways.

You can try and try and try, but if you failed and yeah, at some point you have to let go as well. I have a hard time with that. Yeah, I absolutely agree with you. I have a very simple example.

So, the clients we also had, the person who was, you know, very nicely distanced from the rest of the team. And, maybe it was not as motivated to, yeah, to kind of move forward with the team, right, to upskill the skills and just participate culturally as well with the team. So we had that example and we, as you said, we tried and tried and tried to get the person on board, I think we did very well by, learning what's going on with the person. We learned, of course, that there were some personal reasons or some was more focused on their personal life, and that showed in the collaboration of the team. You, there was a lot of these days of of the team days when we were all gathered in the office. They were not there.

The the coffees were less right. the mini chats were gone. And you could also see it in the performance, in the pull request and everything else. So when the rest of the team involved did not, and there was a personal reason for it, and we tried them, discussed this, we tried to see what could be done differently. But, at the end, we just had to let go of the person that the the team agreed that it would be better for the team to not drag this person with us, because we didn't see the contributions as a.

Yeah, matching the level, let's say. Yeah, that's what you did, which is always a very hard decision to make. Let's see, how did you manage that? Because we're still talking about a person here that has their personal circumstances and that might not be a good fit now, but could turn it around maybe in a longer period. Like you can see I'm very hopeful.

And then letting go is like one of the last thoughts. But yeah, sometimes it needs to be done. How did that affect you? It was a very difficult conversation, and it's something we were talking about, span of six months when the decision was, made. Yeah.

So there was a lot of attempts to, discuss this, a lot of attempts to, change it. There were even, like, direct conversations that, hey, this needs to be changed because this is how the team goes. And we expect this are the expectations, right? This is what they expected from your role. So there was a lot of conversations and it was very difficult of course, to do it.

And there's a I think it's a decision that shouldn't be made lightly by, one person. So, helping, talking to other people, getting the feedback from other people, working with that person, seeing how they experienced with them helped us make, this conclusion that it's not only our perspective. Right. It's a shared opinion of multiple team members that this person is not performing. and even then, with gathering all of this data points, having the discussions, having the conversation where you have to pull the trigger and tell to the person that they are, this is going to be and was still very, complicated matter. Yeah. But I really believe that it was a good decision in that case, because we saw that by letting, go of that person, they could go further, much faster.

Further. We didn't have to spend time as much time explaining, fixing maybe the things that were not done correctly. And it was, overall better. Also, what happened is when people are, let's say, not happy with someone's performance, they start, being a bit annoyed.

They start to gossip, the, during the retros. So we had sprints, every two weeks. And during the retro, people would point out the things that should be different talking to the whole team.

But it was always directed to the person that was underperforming. Right. And you see that this is becoming a problem in the team and a lot of negative conversations.

and once that problem was solved, the conversations changed into, okay, what can we do better? What can we improve. So things are now going as we want it. What are the next steps we can look into? Because now the whole team is on board and we can actually maneuver much faster. Yeah, at least there was a very individual approach in trying to fix the situation.

Right. And in the end, it might not have been, let's say I mean, you didn't reach the outcome you wanted. You you had to come to the ultimate one, which is to let go. But it's a different experience than what sometimes it's the news is that people just get laid off and we're talking about thousands, tens of thousands of numbers, which then the individual approach is just gone.

Just departments are cleaned up. And it's being said that, okay, it's not in the strategic I don't know. I mean it doesn't contribute to the company outcomes, I guess, as much as other departments do.

So then they justify, thousands of people, mostly engineers nowadays being let go. I read this morning was Tesla 12,000, which I thought was insane. Oh yeah. Yeah, crazy.

Yeah. I think for me, I have a little bit of a problem with the word liquor. because I think it's just a fancy way of saying you're fired. Yeah, right.

And I think when these two kind of conversations that need to be had. So the first one you're speaking about with Tesla letting go 12,000 people, that's people being fired. That's not really, anything to do with the relationship. That's just like we're we're the one person where we're breaking the relationship.

And that's what I would say is a one dimensional, ending to a relationship. Is one person just. Okay? I'm done. Walks away. That's a company saying we're done with you and goodbye. the second one, that we're discussing right now, when you're having a conversation with someone, I wouldn't really say that that's a let go in my opinion. I would say that's more like ending the relationship in a mutual way. Because if the person feels bad about being let go, then they still have some motivation to be there, right? So if that's the case, then you've missed the opportunity, to capture that motivation and to repurpose it inside of your team as a positive.

Right. If there's no hard feelings between the relationship being ended, then I think that that's a mutual ending of a of a relationship. And that's not the same as being like, good. So that's what I would like to say, about the way I let go.

and I think in your kind of situation, it sounds like it was more of a mutual, termination because the person, you really tried everything you could to get the best and to motivate them again to find value with him inside of the team. and that just didn't happen. So there's no other way to move forward other than going separate ways. So it was a mutual. Would you say that? Yeah. I'm trying to think about this. I do believe that the person would still love to because we haven't met.

We had a fantastic team at the time and team is still fantastic. I'm just don't get me wrong. Yeah. So I do believe they would still want to actually stay in the team and they discussed this, but it just didn't work. So what will happen? Like after the conversations, multiple conversations we would see the productivity, the interest, the motivation, increase. However, due to some probably personal circumstances, it will always drop back.

So you could maybe actually argue that we failed to, harness that motivation and to get them back on board. But we really tried. So I and I think it's yeah, it's it's easy to say that we need to try our best to do this. However, it's very hard to see. When is it that you've tried everything you could and all the best. Right.

We could probably argue that we could have tried for another year or so to get them back into motivation, maybe wait out the period when their personal situation changes and they can focus back on their work and be fully present with the team, right? We could also argue that, but somewhere that decision had to be made right. And in this case, it was a very tough decision. And I think for the person, it was a very disappointing decision from, from, from their point of view.

But for the team, it was a good decision. Yeah. You'll never know the other side of it. Like if you would have tried longer, maybe the personal life, the issues would have been resolved more so or been put behind them. It's a really hard decision, like at the end of the day, but it is very individualistic in the approach in the attempt. A span of six months is not nothing, especially when it affects a greater team of that. And then in contrast, you have the in the like you mentioned, Jethro, the very one sided approach where the personal touch is just not there.

It's a department or multiple departments being let go based on the fact that it's not in alignment with company goals. And here in the Netherlands, you cannot do that as easily. But in the U.S. it's just yeah. That's it. Yep. Yeah. Yeah.

I think it's important for what you're saying. I don't think any relationship is ever ended, without bad feelings on either side. So that's also important to note, right? So he may the guy that you mentioned may feel, some negativity towards the situation, but I think, the company is not only responsible inside of a relationship. Like I said earlier, people need to take responsibility for where they're at, and try and change the situation themselves. So if you're unhappy, you can't expect the company to do every little tiny thing to make you happy. You also need to say, what can I do as a person to make myself happy in this situation? Yeah. And then that's a partnership.

So if you're expecting a two sided conversation but you're not putting any input in, then it does become a one sided conversation again, right? You need both people at the table talking about the situation, speaking about how they want to improve the situation. If only one person's coming to the party and and speaking about that, then unfortunately there's probably also going to be a one party ending the conversation because you're not going to be there forever waiting for the other person to show up. Right? We things move too fast.

The wheel doesn't stop spinning just because you're not committed to to changing your situation. So that's also another important factor. I think in the situation that you described. Right. people need to take responsibility for where they're at and how they can change their situation.

It's not just the company has to do everything for you, and you're just a bystander who stands around waiting for things to happen. In my in my opinion, if you stand around waiting for things to happen, they sold them happen. with people taking responsible lives, it kind of ties. In.

One of the last thoughts I had for performance review, because performance review is one thing, but you also have the two corrections and inequality. I have no clue when New people come in what their salary is. I don't really care.

But as soon as I find out that compared to other people that I'm a lot lower with regards to what I'm earning versus what I'm contributing to, then for me it becomes a problem. And then definitely I have to do something to the point where either it's a conversation with managers and it spans indeed multiple periods, or I leave because that's I no longer have an option. Apparently I'm not valued for whatever I'm delivering. And the way people find out for me is also interesting.

Like on a personal level, your exhibit, we have the holidays, right? You have scuba and scuba, summer holiday and a winter holiday. And if you earn below a certain amount, you get a discount. You have to pay half of the contribution for the vacation.

That's how I found out actually, the first holiday, because it was a conversation topic and I was already on the holiday and people were like, yeah, and so and so and if you earn below the threshold, then, you get half. But I mean, not everyone does that. And I was like, what do you mean not everyone gets that? What do you mean? And they were like, what do you mean? That's how it came up. That kind of I was earning below the threshold and that's how I started.

And then maybe that's just me, but that little, little drop, that little seed is going to grow until it becomes a problem. And then indeed, with taking ownership, I had to do something. Have you ever had a situation with that as well? And then especially I'm interested in how you handle it. Yeah, I think for me it's it's just I think you did the right thing, by the way, is about speaking about it. Right. It's a conversation. I think you've spoken about this the whole time.

It's always a conversation between anyone in any kind of situation is generally between people, company and people. However you want to see it is always starts off with communication, right. And I think if you have open and transparent communication, that's something that can always, lead you in the right direction. That's always, I would say, the starting point for that.

And I would do the same in your opinion, in your, in your shoes. I would have had the same conversation. And so not necessarily, the responsibility part is I think, having the conversation, but it's the next step as well. After that, if you think that you are as valuable as someone else in the company, then you can find out what you're not doing. So you can take it as, it's unfair they're getting more than me.

Or you can switch that around and say, what am I not doing in order to be at that level? And if it really is nothing, that's great. Then you say, yeah, then I then I should be. And here's the proof that this is why I should be here.

But there may be some things that you can also be doing yourself to, making sure to make sure that you're at that same position where you think you should be. And I think that's where the responsibility comes in. Then question for me, I'm wondering, what do you guys think should then the salaries be a public open or should they be hidden? Because it's also a very cultural thing. Yeah, I think Netherlands is a culture where we strongly prefer not to talk about our salaries.

have you been in a culture where, where it's more open? Yeah, I've only been this one. there, I got so in Sweden. Yeah, it was much more open to discuss the salaries.

There were much more open, and it didn't feel like it was a secret. it's a delicate thing, right? And I like that you point out, Jethro, that whatever you're doing, whatever you're contributing to in your mind, it might be for the greater good, right? But if the company is not valuing that, and by virtue of them not valuing that, it's skewed whatever you're earning versus what other people are contributing to and what they're earning, then that's a thing you can change because you I mean, it's within your sphere of influence. And having then public salaries at least opens up the conversation and creates the awareness, because I had to find out through my colleagues. And then I had to be like, okay, what is this? Because I put my faith in the system, right? I trust my manager and in the end they did change things so that trust is still there.

But it's a trust that like gets a clack when you figure something out like that. And I do think public salaries would help with that. I don't know the downsides though, because people are very individualistic. People will definitely point fingers and be like making comparisons that maybe sometimes they shouldn't.

When it comes to years of experience or actually impact in a team, because at the end of the day, it's very hard to measure. I feel like, well, I know we spoke about saying, have you seen in your, what's your title of AMG, by the way, means innovation expert, and I don't know who to state. I don't know what that and why. It doesn't mean I get no admin rights.

So it's actually a bit of a pain title because I have basically I'm not a developer, but I need to do engineering stuff, so it's a bit of a pain to fight bureaucracy. but the point that I brought it up, is there's normally a number that's associated to your title. have you seen that? There's a number of deals. So if you look at on your use access portal or whatever you have, you'll see there's a number. And if you look at your team, there will be numbers for each. And an engineer will have a number like fina

2024-05-01 18:35

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