Get my email lessons on how you can build a tech team you can depend on.

Games Socrates played

My boss, Rob, always to asked “Socratic” questions when I came to him with a question. And, frankly, I hated it. I dreaded going into Rob’s office. One day, after spending 20 minutes with him trying to answer his Socratic questions, I burst out, “Look, just tell me the answer! I know you know, so…

Read More

Motivation is NaN (Not a Number)

Episode 12 What motivates your programmers? In this episode, Marcus looks at the various factors that impact motivation, and why one of his engineers just wasn’t grooving on a project. Chances are you’ve got teammates who feel the same way. Guess what? It’s not that they’re lacking in motivation, it’s that they’re no longer motivated…

Read More

I guess Ananya’s situation looked familiar.

Last Saturday I sent out a situation and asked if it looked familiar, and what you might do about it. I got quite a few responses, and summarize them here. Original post: Does this sound familiar? Here’s what you wrote: Edith write: After Ananya asks you “which class?”, you should have asked what she thought.…

Read More

Does this sound familiar?

I’m using this example in the book I’m writing, and want to see if this sounds familiar to you. Ananya: “Marcus, which class should contain the method to check if we have new orders? I need to add it for the feature I’m working on today.” Marcus: The OrderUpdate class would be good. Ananya: Okay,…

Read More

If only I’d had more time

I was having dinner with some colleagues last night, and toward the end, one of them said to me, “I’ve noticed a theme when you describe your life. You seem to make time to think.” “That true, but it wasn’t always so,” I replied. “Most of my working life I only made time to do,…

Read More

”Grown up” issues

I believe 99% of issues which get people fired were “no big deal” at one point. But then, the issues “grew up.” Pull the weeds while they’re small, and you’ll need weed killer less often. TL;DR When a manager sees something that concerns them, they may turn a blind eye, hoping the issue will resolve…

Read More

What Jack (probably) thought about being fired

On Wednesday I mentioned that I’d fired Jack out-of-the-blue rather than put him on a PIP. He didn’t pick up on my “performance hints”, so he never really knew there was a problem. Or, at least, he didn’t know how serious the problem was. I didn’t use any formal warning processes (e.g. formal verbal, written…

Read More

Use a PIP, or just fire them?

If you’ve been on my list for a while now, you know I want to help you become a better tech manager. One way I do this is by helping you see situations from new perspectives, often your team’s perspective. Because it’s easy to forget that there are other perspectives. So easy that I committed…

Read More

My haunted closet

There is a tiny closet in the front room of the beach house where I’m staying this week, in Santa Cruz, CA. The closet has no light switch. Instead, the inside light is on a motion sensor. At 2 am, I got up for a drink of water and froze in my tracks. I could…

Read More

”Nah” – Rosa Parks

I shuffle when I walk, which means I kinda drag my feet on the ground. This results in ’scuffing’ along, as my father put it. You can think of this shuffling as a system that’s balanced when my action (shuffling feet) is met with a particular reaction (dirt or gravel which give way) in a…

Read More

You can borrow my teaching style

If the thought of leading in-house training sounds like as much fun as a root canal, this email’s for you. Especially training with a name like “Engineering Leadership Training,” right? Let me offer a super-simple idea for a zero-level training you could start today. Here’s how it might work: Setup (30m) Choose a book on…

Read More

Pin It on Pinterest