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A Competition of Goals?

Which goals do employees really pursue?

Earlier this year, I was told about a discussion among higher-ups at a tech company. There had been a survey among all employees, and the result was that many of them were dissatisfied with the lack of perspective they saw in terms of personal advancement and development. There were no career tracks, nor were there personal development plans of any sort. A higher-up manager reacted to these concerns in a very particular way.

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Organizational Teaching

When I was about to finish this post, I discovered Why Startups Should Train Their People by Ben Horowitz, which was written in 2010 and covers most of what I am writing below, plus some additional points. If you have time only for one of the two, I advise you to go and read that.

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Refactoring For Non-Coders

Learn how to refactor a house!

In a previous post, I tried to provide an analogy to help non-technical people understand why the number of produced lines of code (LOC) is not a good measure of developers’ productivity. While there may be a demand for such an analogy, the demand is probably even higher for an analogy for refactoring. I sometimes view refactoring as the eternal apple of discord between developers and stakeholders (and I am not saying developers are always right to refactor). The need to refactor is not always immediately clear to management or other stakeholders, and, if they have never seen a large codebase from the inside, who could blame them?

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On Bricks and Code

It’s 2016. And still, some business managers seem to think that using lines of code (LOC) produced is an appropriate KPI for the productivity of a developer, or a software engineering department. Since history has a tendency to repeat itself, I have a feeling that this will even be the case in, say, ten years. Software engineers themselves know, of course, that measuring productivity in LOC is not the way to go. However, non-technical or even semi-technical people do not know this instinctively.

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Reward With Care

I recently read Drive by Dan Pink, and the most surprising thing for me was how rewards can lead to decreased performance and intrinsic motivation. This is counterintuitive - usually, you think of rewards as something that should increase people’s motivation. However, Pink recites a couple of fascinating studies and findings.

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Servant Leadership = You Do It All?

A lot has been written about the concept of servant leadership, and while I like it and agree with it a lot, I sometimes wonder how to interpret it in certain situations. Does servant leadership mean you do all non-development tasks yourself, to shield your people from distractions? Or are there certain tasks that are fine to delegate?

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What to Do If You Don't Know What to Write About?

Writing is not always easy, but usually worth it

Dear blogging diary, I try to publish one post per week, but do you know this feeling when you just don’t have any good ideas? You browse through your list of potential topics, and all the time, you think “Naaah, this one is not really interesting. No, already kind of written about that one in a previous post. Naaah, there is this great post on that one by someone else, and he has said it all, and I agree with him.” You reach the end of the topics list, and your mind is still blank.

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A Tale of Dragons and Facilitation

Recently, I was amazed at what I could contribute to a technical meeting without any technical expertise on the subject matter discussed. In this particular meeting, there were two sides participating: On the one side, there was a team - let us call them Blue Team - who was starting to use a certain technology to solve a certain problem. On the other side, there was an engineer from a different team, let’s call him Gunnar, who wanted to talk them out of it. There was I, the manager of the Blue Team. I was in a neutral position. Why neutral? I will come to that in a second.

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A Primer on Delegation

Like many relatively new managers, I have trouble handing things over. Instead, I do too many things myself, or - worse yet - they are delayed. However, if a manager wants to increase his leverage, then delegation - which means not doing everything yourself - is an indispensable tool which I want to highlight a bit more. Like I said, I am not a delegation expert by experience, so I write this post as much for myself as for readers out there who might find it useful.

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Three Things Your Children Can Teach You About Management

Children can be teachers, too

When you become a mum or dad, you are definitely in for some funny and surprising moments where your children react in a totally unanticipated way. Example: I sit at my computer and fill out my tax return. My three year old son comes in and asks: “Daddy, may I help you at the a-pluter (computer)?” - “No, sorry, Max, you cannot help me here.” The result: Max throws himself on the nearby couch in desperation, shouting out: “But why not? I am your friend after all.” It was so cute (and heart-breaking) that even as I type these words, it makes me smile.

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