Tag: responsibilities

Recognition – Weekly Article Dump

Recognition - Weekly Article Dump (Image from http://www.sxc.hu/)

Recognition – Weekly Article Dump

Not all of the articles this week touch on recognition, and to be honest, I didn’t pick it as a theme for the articles either. Recognition is more a topic of discussion that’s come up over the last week at Magnet Forensics, where I work. Being a team lead and part of the management team at Magnet, I’m often part of conversations about motivation. Providing recognition is an excellent way to motivate your staff and shows that you truly appreciate them. We’ve been trying to get better at recognizing staff for doing an awesome job–especially because we have so many awesome people working with us. It’s pretty obvious with our Profit Hot 50 placement that we’ve got some kick-ass people.

Recognition, whether it’s one-on-one or in a public setting, has a huge impact. I don’t even mean recognition in the form of compensation (e.g. bonus or salary raise). Just giving someone recognition for the awesome work they’ve done–plain and simple. It’s a great way to let someone know that their hard work and commitment isn’t going unnoticed. Sure, if they’re developing products, making sales, or acquiring leads there are certain metrics that indicate they’re doing a great job, but recognition is that additional feedback you can provide to really drive the point home. It motivates people and often has a bigger impact than providing compensation.

I want to make a conscious effort to try and recognize some of my colleagues on Dev Leader, going forward, when the opportunity presents itself. I’m always learning from the people I work with and there’s always something great I can say about them. Why not give them a public acknowledgement?

I also have a little surprise coming from a friend and colleague of mine, Tayfun Uzun, early next week, so keep your eyes open for that!

Articles

  • Job Titles and Responsibilities: Last week I wrote about my thoughts on the true role of job titles. As soon as you start to look at your job title as something that defines your limits, you’re on the wrong path. Your job title should define what you’re responsible for, but it’s by no means supposed to put limits on what you can do. Check it out and let me know what you think! Do you feel like job titles should keep people to only a certain set of tasks? Do you feel like having set responsibilities is useful at all?
  • How Strong Is Your Bench: Having a successful company is all about having the right people on board. Sylvia Hewlett writes about what it means to have a rock solid roster within your company. Some of the things include avoiding hiring clones of people exactly like yourself and instead trying to diversify the skill sets within your company. Absolutely true!
  • 8 Steps for Engineering Leaders to Keep the Peace: There seems to be a natural tendency for engineers or people implementing components of a product to push back on product managers or people who decide how a product/service should be. Steven Sinofsky discusses the importance of being an effective engineering leader and ensuring proper communication between engineering leaders and people like PMs or founders. Open and transparent communication is key and helps remind the other party that you do in fact have the same end-goal.
  • Top Tips To Being a Great Mentor: In this article, James Caan provides four key points for being a better mentor. Patience, honesty, positivity, and focus are the four pillars that James describes. Patience and honesty, in my opinion, are the most important but I certainly agree with all four!
  • Leading a Customer-Centric Transformation: Hopefully it’s not surprising, but customers are what your business should be geared toward. As a result, it makes sense that leading customer-centric employees would be beneficial. Don Peppers outlines six things to focus on to make this transformation necessary. It ties in with my post on avoiding organizational silos.
  • The Dark Side Of Software Development That No One Talks About: Don’t be scared that this article mentions software development if you’re not a programmer! It touches on some great points about having a career in software development, so even if you’re not a developer yourself, it sheds some light on some more broad issues. John Sonmez writes about why software developers seem like jerks sometimes and what you can do about it. It seems to boil down to intelligence being a deciding factor for how well you program, so lording your intelligence over other people makes you superior. And because our own intelligence is something we all hold personally, we can get defensive about it pretty easily. John suggests that part of the solution is trying to simplify aspects of software development.
  • How to Win Loyalty From Other People: To be a successful leader, the people you lead need to be loyal to you. Deepak Chopra writes about seven suggestions for building up loyalty and among them “abstaining from disloyalty” is one of my favourites. If you act differently behind people’s backs compared to when you’re leading them, it may come back to bite you later. It’s also crucial to pay attention to each individual’s personal differences to ensure they feel understood.
  • Strategies for Dealing with Randomness in BusinessDon Peppers twice on the list this week! Things in life and business aren’t always predictable for us. It’s just how things are. Are you properly set up to deal with uncertainty in your business though? Remain agile!
  • 10 Quotes All Entrepreneurs Should Memorize: How about some quotes to motivate you? Joel Peterson lists 10 great quotes for entrepreneurs, but I think they carry over to anyone working in a startup. Don’t be afraid to fail and keep moving forward to improve!
  • The Two Biggest Distractions – And What to Do About Them: Distractions are ever-increasing in the workplace, but have you ever considered the differences between the different types of distractions? Daniel Goleman discusses two very different types of distractions: sensory and emotional. I hadn’t really noticed it, but often we find ourselves consciously trying to avoid sensory distractions. If our phone lights up or we get an email notification, we either give in or we make an effort to try and reduce the effect of these distractions. But an emotional distraction is much worse. If something tweaks your emotions the wrong way at work, it often has a bigger impact and it’s usually unexpected.

My take away point for this week regarding recognition: Do it early and do it often. Remember to follow Dev Leader on social media outlets to get these updates through the week!

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Job Titles and Responsibilities

Job Titles and Responsibilities (Image provided by http://www.sxc.hu/)

Your New Job Title

Congrats! You did it! You finally have that new job title you’ve been working so hard towards! Let’s be honest with each other here–you were working hard for the title, not because you just wanted to see your company flourish with all the hard work you were putting in. Of course that wasn’t bad or anything, it was just a nice side effect of you getting your new job title. Some great things happened once you received your new job title too! Your responsibilities shifted so now nobody can come after you when your pesky clients are complaining about your sales process, when your code won’t compile into your finished product, or when employees are having conflicts in the workplace.

You’re literally only responsible for the two new tasks that you have attached to your job title! Besides, why would the company keep all your colleagues around if you were supposed to be doing some of their work too? That’s just ridiculous, right? Besides, if you ever had to do anything outside of your assigned responsibilities, you’d become inefficient!

I should also congratulate you for the first steps in creating the negative culture that may bring your company to its knees. With that outlook, you’re going to be the poison to your company culture, and you’ll slowly kill off any employees that actually wanted to see a successful company. The entitlement will start oozing out of every employee within the organization, barriers between tasks will start shooting up, and your company will grind to a halt when anything outside of process happens.

Because you won’t pick up the slack for Jane’s work when she’s getting overloaded because it’s not attached to your job title is the same reason John isn’t going to help you out when you need it. It’s going to be the same reason Bill isn’t helping the new co-ops who started (because he’s a received a Director of Technical Management Lead position of product-X-part-B now, and interns are basically insects to him) and Bridgette isn’t doing anything to help her team lead resolve conflicts within her team.

Congratulations on starting the vicious cycle that will kill off the business and the culture that once made it great.

Why Have Job Titles Then?

Job titles do serve a purpose and that purpose is sure as hell not to limit you. Plain and simple, your job title and the tasks associated with it tell other people that you’re responsible for something. That does not imply the inverse. Think about it this way: if you were to assume that everything always worked as planned and things were perfect, it wouldn’t make any sense to put more resources towards something than what you’d need. Sure, maybe you need two people to manage the on-boarding process for your interns so there’s some overlap in task, or four people to manage selling your product, but you wouldn’t assign six people to do a three person job. It just wouldn’t make sense! Because of that, we have job titles and associated tasks that go along with them so we know what we’re responsible for. So if everything is going flawlessly and managing the new marketing interns isn’t part of my responsibilities but reaching out to customers or building software is, I’ll stick to my role.

You don’t live in a dream world. Surprise.

Things are almost never perfect. If they are, then you’re lucky, but unfortunately it probably won’t last. There are too many unknowns to always plan perfectly and sometimes things just come up. This is where your job title and position really shine. If we know that Ted is the manager of XYZ and he has responsibilities A, B, and C, then when the pressure starts building on the company he should be cracking down on those things. You wouldn’t expect Ted to be off trying to take on some extra work in a high-risk low-return option in the company if he’s under pressure to get his main responsibilities done. If it starts to become overwhelming, we can hopefully allocate more resources over to help out with Ted’s tasks because it’s starting to become unmanageable for one person. Maybe it means injecting more resources (by hiring more awesome people like Ted) or by temporarily (or even permanently) shifting some responsibilities of others to take on stuff Ted once solely managed.

For now, at the end of the day those responsibilities belong to Ted. He’s part of the company because he’s taken on the role that needs to fulfill those responsibilities. If he’s having trouble keeping up, it’s also his responsibility to let his manager or leader know that he’s running into roadblocks that keep him from effectively getting the job done. If they’re any good, they’ll listen, and if they’re amazing, they’ll hopefully notice it before Ted sees it.

Job Titles Should Not Imply Limits

So, a job title indicates what one is responsible for. You’ll notice I didn’t say that those tasks are the only thing a person is responsible for though, and that’s certainly on purpose. If you want to be part of a successful company, you need to realize that putting up barriers and acting on entitlement isn’t going to get you there. Let’s revisit my Ted example.

So the pressure is building, and Ted is strapped for time. He’s been able to keep on top of responsibilities A and B, but C is definitely falling behind compared to the others. And guess what? Ted’s just caught the flu so he’s going to be out of commission for the next week or so. So what do your job responsibilities look like now that Ted is out of the picture?

If you’re like the person I was mocking in the opening paragraphs, this is where things really start to go sour. You have some critical parts of your business that are falling behind and your superstar resource isn’t able to take care of one of his three responsibilities. Unfortunately, John, Jane, Bill, and Bridgette all took on the same mentality and they’re sticking to their own responsibilities. Because Ted will figure it out… or someone else will… Right? Or someone else won’t, I suppose, since by now everyone else is adopting this exact same mindset. That type of company culture is sure looking great right about now, isn’t it! Just about as great as Ted’s responsibility C is looking.

The alternative is that you don’t let your job titles create barriers. Sure, Ted is responsible for A, B, and C. He’s been able to help Bridgette and Bill out when he had a bit of down time and they were getting swamped by some large orders from a new promising client. Ted knew that it was a key deal though so he dug in with them and helped where he could. He kept on top of his own responsibilities, but he put in some extra hours to make sure Bill and Bridgette would nail those orders. And you know what? Jane saw that Ted was putting in some extra time and how much it was able to help the business after he helped Bill and Bridgette. The next time Jane saw John falling a bit behind on his coding tasks, she decided she’d come in early for a few days and help him meet the deadline for the feature he was working on.

In the end everyone did what they had to as per their job titles, but nobody let their job titles hold them back from helping make the company successful.

Summary

There are pros and cons to job titles. If you can see the big picture and you’re aimed at being part of a successful company, you’re not going to let your job title hold you back from doing great things and helping where you’re needed. Everyone in the company should have a common goal of making awesome products or services for the customers, and sometimes that means putting in some extra effort where you’re not required to based on your job title. The alternative is a pretty grim path to take, especially as more employees start to adopt that mind set.

Some advice to stay on the right track:

  • Take care of your own responsibilities first. Getting your hands in everything all at once and all the time might mean that you can’t get your own responsibilities taken care of.
  • Don’t let your job title restrict you. If you can help someone out and keep on top of your own tasks, then offer a hand!
  • Remember that things almost never go 100% according to plan, so plan for the unexpected.
  • If you have a set of skills that carry over well to someone else’s position, consider meeting up and seeing how you can help out.
  • Keep in mind that the efficiency of your company is only as good as all of the components working together. If some part of it is hurting, the whole company feels it.

Do what you’re required to based on your job title, and then do some more. Being helpful won’t hurt you.


  • Nick Cosentino

    Nick Cosentino

    I work as a team lead of software engineering at Magnet Forensics (http://www.magnetforensics.com). I'm into powerlifting, bodybuilding, and blogging about leadership/development topics over at http://www.devleader.ca.

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