Archive for February 1st, 2010

How to avoid firefighting in validation

One of the attendees to my DVClub talk last week just blogged about my talk.  I thought he did a good job summarizing what I said.  Cadence sponsored the lunch.  Here’s the link. (and a picture of me in the process of talking- not so flattering 🙂 )

Smiles don’t always mean good feedback

I’ve been behind in blogging this past week because it is review season at work.  Our reviews consist of a self-assessment and a set of 360 reviews.  Typically you suggest 3-5 people who have worked closely with you during the past year year to provide feedback through a form to your manager.

As a program manager, I get quite a few requests for 360s.  For many people, I am one of the few who work with them on a consistent basis and are not part of their immediate managerial chain.  This year was a record though, as I was asked to complete 39 360s.

I was wondering this weekend about why I had so many to do.  There are other program managers on my team who are not asked to fill out nearly as many.  I decided it probably came down to my demeanor.  As previously mentioned, I enjoy working with others, coaching and mentoring, and have a positive outlook.  I think it is my smiles that win me the 360s.

People believe that because I am nice, I will give them a good review.  I can say that just because I am nice, doesn’t mean I only have nice, kind things to say.  I have a knack for seeing what motivates and drives people- where they are strong and where they are weak.  (When I was younger, I moved around a lot and my ability to quickly figure out what made someone tick became a survival skill as I went from school to school).

I am not mean in my feedback.  I am truthful about the things that hold a person back, the areas and skills they need to focus on improving to become a more valuable member of the team.  Over the years, I have learned not to hold back, even when giving feedback to people more senior that myself- mangers, senior technologists, and architects.  I guess that means I am a good person to give feedback to all 39 of these people.  For some, though, I have a lot more improvement areas than strengths to list.  I have a feeling those are the ones who just bank on my smile.