Again, again, I knoooow, it is a lot since last post. I am changing company (again, sigh), so yes, I had to spend all my holidays, meaning that on February I went in Belgium, I did a coast to coast of France, I visited my mother in Italy and I went in Poland (and now I am waiting to go to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam).
Quitting the company again. Not my fault, the idea was to stay here forever, reason why I have always been in the first line for everything: investigating things, solving problems, attending meeting, doing boring stuff, trying to innovate. Yes, I am usually quite proactive, but I was obviously trying to solve all the issues (bot technical and not) as soon as they were happening in my team.
This has always been done keeping in mind that, although they put me in a kind of role of leadership for a while (I was “leading” a feature team, when they split the team in two subteams), I have never been in the role of LEAD. Not here. In the next company I will be Development Tech Lead, but here I was only a senior engineer.
What does it mean? Basically nothing, in terms of work or leadership. And I want to underline that the usage of the term leadership is often wrong. A basic definition can be “leadership is the art of motivating a group of people to act towards achieving a common goal” that focus mostly on the motivation concept. A definition with more details can be found here, and I would focus on aspects like “Serving”, or “Empathy” or “lead and guide their team […] know when to step back”. This is a better definition, and something which is not requiring the role of lead to be achieved.
The only thing that a role is giving to the person who owns it is authority: “administrative power and control”. I couldn’t approve holidays, or ask for promotions, salary raises… No, a person that micromanages you has only authority over you, no leadership.
And so now I am studying how to cover the next role in the best way. And especially, I am focusing on culture. When I started my work in my current team, we were 7 developers, next Friday, when I will leaver, of those only one will be still there. And we didn’t lose only developers. Culture is the key!
A person that comes to work, has to face the thousands of problems of her job and on top of that she is asking every single day why she has to come to work, why she has to stand a bad environment, is not going to stay there a long. And culture cannot just be to put a nice board in the kitchen with some values copied from somewhere: it should be something that is affecting, positively of course, her life.
Then, as usual, I am studying. I have never pretended to know things by God’s blessing: I studied Compute Science, I studied by myself PMI Project Management principles, agile methodologies, one billion technology tools, library and techniques, why I should not study how to create a good culture?
Key points that I think are more important, easy to achieve and often forgotten, are:
- to give the example: nobody in the team will feel that the environment is fair if the leader does whatever he wants. Same rules applies to everyone, the leader is part of the team, if the team has to communicate to work from home if he wants, the leader, as part of the team, has to do the same (this looks so difficult to have). The same applies to discipline, to proactivity, to everything.
- the environment should be welcoming for everyone: no bullying, no stupid or childish jokes, no favouritisms or advantages, and respect. The sentence “it was a joke” cannot be an excuse for making someone feel uncomfortable in the office
- development team should be respected and protected: people developing should not feel disrespected. If they disagree with you, you can never just say “I do as I decided”. They cannot be responsible for everything and then blamed for any problem. They cannot be in every meeting, fix any issue and being also in time for any new development. And if a group of people is doing the work, the group should decide for rules for doing the work (respecting of course the interactions with other teams). Someone has to take care of removing useless noises and distractions from they daily work.
- Zero blame policy: a person cannot be blamed because “he knows too much and he became a silos” and the day after because “a bug has passed two reviews and he should have noticed it”. It is like saying that you have to not know everything and know everything at the same time (SCHRÖDINGER’S CAT is just a theory for noobs)
- internal problems should be solved: if a leader let discussions and fights among employee be unsolved, those will become huge and will lead to people leaving for excess of stress. Fairness is important, as well as favouritisms should be avoided. But sometimes people doesn’t want to look unable to solve something that cannot be really solved by them: a peer can be difficult to convince.
- setup recurring face to face meetings: people should be known. People has different needs, problems and expectations. A leader has the duty to give honest and frequent feedback, in order for the employee to grow fast and eventually to progress faster. And he should be available for any feedback from the team members. Last but not least, he should ask team members what they do and don’t like about their current culture and work environment
Those are probably the most important point that I would have liked in the companies I worked for.
I hope I will be able to achieve them in the next job.