Jeff’s background includes 30 years of experience working in people management. Specifically in developing the management skills, and careers of Software Engineering teams. He now works at Chef as the Director of Learning Experiences.
Just thinking about career development in the workplace is not very common. Jeff discusses statistics around the specifics of Career Development and implementation strategies. For example, in one study, more than 60% of respondents said that Career Development was of “little to no” importance to their current employer. Less than 5% of employees at some organizations surveyed receive any career feedback from their current bosses.
Jeff: There are different approaches people usually take as they grow into their careers. The first is a “go with the flow” approach which can cause issues when leadership skills are not developed in response. A second approach is more proactive in which you plan out and describe your career and where you would like to go in the future.
The panel discusses their own careers and their attempts to summarize “what you do,” their weaknesses, and their strengths. Especially if the description is to be seen by the entire organization. Can you brag? Should you be vulnerable? For some, listing strengths as an engineer can actually be more difficult than listing weaknesses.
Jeff: “It’s a huge act of vulnerability to say who you want to be in an organization”
Jeff: “Every Engineer is responsible for their own career development […] and you are 100% responsible for the career development for every engineer on your team”
The group discusses the merit of titles and how relevant and useful they are within an organization. Jeff: “Titles don’t matter, and they absolutely matter.”
Ultimately, titles should be descriptive of what you want to do in that position and are indicative of positional authority more than anything else.
“It’s Not a Promotion - It’s a Career Change” — Lindsay Holmwood (http://fractio.nl/2014/09/19/not-a-promotion-a-career-change/)
Matt: “I don’t like managing people that’s not my thing.”
Jeff: Performance management is not the same as Career Development. Often, when Software Engineers get promoted to managers, coding becomes a secondary responsibility and People Management becomes a priority. For some, this is not the trajectory they want for their careers, and that’s ok. Providing context for feedback and guidance is a great way to identify these mismatches between current position and where someone wants to be.
Jeff: Using analytics “Project Oxygen” from Google describes 8 qualities of a good manager. ( http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/13/business/13hire.html )
Jeff: “The Beatle Book” - Ken Schwaber ( http://www.amazon.com/Ken-Schwaber/e/B001H6ODMC )
Trevor: Doing an emotional check-in to describe your current emotional state is a powerful management and communication tool (from the Core Protocols by Jim McCarthy - http://www.mccarthyshow.com/online/)
Jeff discusses the usefulness of check-ins on every level within an organization.
You know you have a good manager when: 1. They expresses real concern with your career development, separate from quality conversations. 2. They create opportunities for you to realize your goals. (or at least get closer) 3. They have your best interest at heart.
…and then there’s the checkouts:
Engineering Development at Chef.