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Seven quick rants

PRE-S: I’ve got some free time in my consulting schedule. If you want help thinking through a sticky problem, tackling a change, or finding new options to move forward – I’m your guy. Just hit REPLY and let’s make magic happen.

1) It’s annual employee evaluation time – known in some companies as “the third ring of hell.” If this sounds familiar – you have my condolences.

Let me offer a tweak to how these are used. The real goal of employee evaluation is to improve the performance, not to measure the performance.

To do this, the employee must be deeply involved with the evaluation, so they get feedback to improve.
The one who does the measuring learns the most about what’s measured – so wouldn’t you want that to be the employee?

2) Speaking of measurements, I’ll bet you know when someone is objectifying you. Measuring you, comparing you, examining you. We all seem to have a sense of this, which makes normal performance evaluations all the more… icky. Treat people like people (even behind closed doors) and you’ll go a lot farther.

3) Many managers are confused about the true nature of companies. Companies aren’t machines composed of objects, they are systems composed of organisms. Maybe that’s why they are called “organizations” not “machinations.” This is an industrial design way of thinking, and it seems clear that it’s not actually how people work together.

4) The next time you are considering a re-org, remember the old phrase, “The terrain is not the map.” The boxes and lines on your chart are just a mental model (also known as a ‘fantasy’.) It’s not how work gets done, who respects whom, or how information flows. The way people work together isn’t well represented by an org-chart. Trying to fix an organization by changing the org-chart is akin to try to change the terrain by altering the map. It causes a lot of confusion, and people will fight about it, but things won’t be much different.  

5) Speaking of change, remember it’s a heck of a lot harder than you think, it takes more time, and it basically sucks. Why? See the second and third rants

6) Inject some silliness into your next meeting. Seriously. Not because it’s fun, but because life is short, and “our work is too important to be taken seriously.” How? Conduct the first 5 minutes in pig-latin. What can it hurt – not much gets done in the first 5 minutes anyway.

7) “In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” Or queen, you get the point. Ask yourself, “What am I pretending is true which isn’t?” Now, tell someone else, and laugh about it.

Take care!


About Marcus Blankenship

Where other technical coaches focus on process or tools, I focus on the human aspects of your Programmer to Manager transition. I help you hire the right people, create the right culture, and setup the right process which achieves your goals. Managing your team isn't something you learned in college. In fact, my clients often tell me "I never prepared for this role, I always focused on doing the work". If you're ready to improve your leadership, process and team, find out how I can help you.

1 Comment

  1. Chris on November 22, 2019 at 11:51 am

    Love the rant about re-orgs – so true that shuffling deck chairs doesn’t normally change anything. I wonder if anyone ever thought about analyzing email from/to/cc/bcc and teams/slack traffic patterns to figure out better org structures?

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