The WordPress support role is one that I inhabit fully, because if there’s anyone who understands what it’s like to have a technical barrier to expression, it’s me. It’s truly wonderful to be able to help others break through their own limitations, and end their silences, using the power of Free and Open Source Software, and the open web.
I had an epiphany recently about performance feedback that seems so obvious in hindsight. One of those things you realize and then think, “This took me 6 years to figure out?”
At Automattic a lot of our feedback conversations take the form of a 3-2-1-Oh chat. It’s a mix of a team member writing a self-assessment and a team lead writing a review. The conversation centers around answers to these bullet points:
- What are 3 things you’ve done well?
- What are 2 areas or skills you’d like to develop?
- What’s 1 way your team lead or Automattic itself can support you?
- And, oh, can you write a sentence or two about how you see your career developing?
I’ve done these conversations with team members for over 3 years. In every instance I approached the 3-2-1 as an exhaustive review of each and every aspect of someone’s work. I tried to solve all the problems in one go. I’d review hundreds of ticket replies, P2 posts, and try to cover an evaluation of everything. It took me until this week to realize that’s an untenable position.
That exhaustive approach was time-intensive and, likely, did each team member a disservice. On my side it took at least 10 hours for each person. On their side it resulted in a deluge of ideas on what they should improve.
If timely and meaningful feedback is your goal then spending 10 hours to put it together is near-impossible. If regular and incremental growth in a person’s work is your goal then an avalanche of ideas for improvement inhibits that.
I now realize that spending a little less time, more regularly, to generate fewer ideas will better serve my team members. It’s better to keep someone on course through a series of small adjustments than through a U-turn. My goal is to have these conversations on a quarterly basis. Trying to improve a host of things about your work in that limited amount of time isn’t realistic. It’s better to narrow your focus and then regularly revisit and adjust goals.
If you’re a team lead tasked with helping people grow and improve, try distilling your feedback down to just 2 ideas. It will add clarity to your own thinking and definition to your team member’s plans.
Took a quick trip this weekend out to Manzanita, Oregon. It mostly rained, but we had some nice weather Friday afternoon. It’s relaxing to get a quick change of scenery like this. View the full gallery →
To start from the prerequisite that co-presence is solely dependent on proximity in space devalues so many other moments where closeness occurs that happens to be mediated by a screen.
Last month I traveled to Cape Town for work. It was a pretty quick meetup, just 4 full days, but we were able to fit in a tour of the wine country outside the city. Really beautiful land paired with fantastic food. See the full gallery →
Protest is political. At its core, protest is the visceral withdrawal of consent from the state; it is a challenge of the legitimacy of the state itself; it is a reminder that the power of the state is derived from the consent of the people.
An Open Letter to Lester Holt – DeRay Mckesson.
Flying into Phoenix. Sometimes I forget how relatively compact of a city Portland is.
The “Other Side” Is Not Dumb. Such a good post from Sean Blanda. Too often we write off an alternative view as uneducated and wrong. It’s more effective to ask what circumstances lead someone to a view that seems as well-considered and logical to them as yours does to you.
To me, a successful career is one without ceilings, walls, or even a blazed path. It is not a ladder, it is not stairs, it is not a single road with milemarkers along the way to tell you how close you are to your destination.
What is a career? – Andrea Badgley.