Work ethics, rewards and private balance

I have seen many different work-ethics. Some people are working day and night, neglecting their own needs as a human being (trust me, it will bite you once you get older). I’ve also seen others that show no interest in company goals and strive for tops 3 hour efficiency¬†and well-groomed social media profiles every day.

 

I’m writing this blog post because I think that with the right argumentation people can get on-track, become more efficient for their bosses, but also in their personal lives.

Believe in the company goal

It’s paramount that you believe in the company goal, believe in the people that wish to go there, and believe in the fact that you’re going to achieve that goal. If you are not certain of one of these things, you should vocalize your concerns.

Why? Because your and your peers future success, and joy in daily work rides on it. You will never be able to work really hard for something if you don’t believe in the thing you are working for. Don’t forget that you spend more ‘conscious time’ at your job than you do anywhere else. So don’t waste that time and optimize whatever can be done to achieve the best results.

When you join a new company, you should really investigate what the goals are and if they are in line with what you feel is best and fitting with where you personally want to go.

Career opportunities

Never settle for the job you’ve got, always work for the job you want. Opportunities don’t automatically come your way. It’s hard work, and if you follow the company’s goals whilst not neglecting your own needs, you will achieve more.

Especially for people in tech willing to grow, I would suggest to force yourself every once in a while to perform in an uncomfortable setting. Speech in front of 50 people, be bold (not bald, that’s another blog post) and question your PO’s or clients about choices they make. Dress for your job. Anything. Just put in more effort than is minimally required. You will see that it’s uncomfortable at first (that’s a guarantee), but will boost your communication skills, technical skills and moral. You’ll be more visible on the radar.

You can be the best programmer on the planet and create something that somehow saves the world from climate disasters, but if you don’t evolve the skills to communicate about it, no one will know nor care about it.

By setting career goals, and being willing to fall while you stumble to get there, you’ll grow.

Once you know what you want, you should fight for it. Because if you cannot fight for your own worth, then how would you be able to fight for the same thing for your boss. You should always put your own goals in the scale with more weight than the company goals. But that said, this is not a black and white world. Try to scan the horizon for every possible way you can unite these two goals in to one, and be verbal about it to your boss before you let the scale decide. When he or she cares they will pursue the exact same path (a compromise or optimum that’s in some way beneficial to both parties). If they don’t, the environment you’re in might not be the good one for you and you should consider the weight of the problem and be strong enough to draw conclusions when needed.

Be worth what you are paid for

When you’ve been an entrepreneur, you’ll know – no, let me rephrase that – you’ll feel the real value of the money that you receive each month. Money doesn’t come for free from a magic tree. It’s a hard earned currency that you and your fellow colleagues have worked hard for. There’s no guarantees that it’s there next month or the month after. That’s the stone your boss might have on the bottom of his or her stomach. The risk they take and lay awake from at least a couple of nights in the year.

Employers don’t want to make decisions you don’t like, but they need to do it anyways, or they might draw the short straw on the vow they’ve made in the beginning of your employment: I shall provide money each month so my employees are rewarded for their efforts and their families mouths fed

When you negotiate with your employer, don’t negotiate beyond that what you are really worth. Make sure you can look them in the eye when you convince them of what you are worth and believe in your words. And again, if you can’t fight for your own (fair) salary, how can you fight for the income of the company. When you feel you’ve reached your capacity, know when to stop. You don’t want to work a year with the constant feeling that you’re being less productive than paid for. There are more ways you can be rewarded than with money. Think of growth opportunities, flexibility in location an times to work from or other ways.

When you create awareness for yourself what you cost the company, you can (and should) use that knowledge when you are working. Assess if you are worth your cost every once in a while. Good bosses do the same.

Work to live, not the other way around

Work hard, play hard is a good thing to keep in mind. Charge yourself, enjoy your life and reflect on what’s happening because time flies. Nurture your home situation with the same care and awareness that you apply on work. Strive for an equilibrium. You will only succeed in one or the other if you can find a balance. Life doesn’t work in sprints, it’s a marathon.

Bottom line

It’s all about balance, honesty and positivism. One could almost say that the term ‘self fulfilling prophecy’ is a derivative of newton’s third law:

When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body

So find your optimum. Find peace and positivity or execute on thoughts or actions that enable you to do that. Put in a lot of effort and positive energy, and the reward will eventually be as good for a long time to come.

Tips on how to conduct a retro

For: scrummasters and teamleads

The most important thing with retro’s is that you have them. But when you have them, there are a couple of things that you can do to optimize and get the most out of them.

When to do the retro

Try to schedule the retro after the sprint, around the moment you do your demo. Since the team will already start looking back on two weeks and see what has happened and how they can demo their achievements, this is an ideal moment.

Use sticky notes

Let everybody write down their own positive and negative points on sticky notes. Some members may come prepared with some sticky notes that they have gathered during the sprint (if you see that there’s not enough quality feedback you can suggest doing this to the team). Each note can get a + or a – in the top.

Create a board with two or maybe three lanes. A lane for things that didn’t went so well and a lane for positive things. When someone is done, let them put their notes on the board. Each member can see if one of their points was already put on the board. If so, let them stack. Big stacks, usually indicate big concerns regarding that point.

Some benefits of doing sticky notes instead of going sequentially through all members:

  • everybody can write down their own thoughts, and don’t have to remember them through the talks of others
  • you can monitor actual participation in the retro, instead of having a ‘what he / she said’ or ‘I have nothing’ answer
  • you get to know some sense of how big a concern actually is
  • you can take the notes with you to process them later and not have everyone waiting for you

What to put on the notes

It’s important not to narrow the scope of these points. Let people tell that they’ve had a good barbecue, a nice birthday or a dog that died. Because influences from our personal lives into our professional lives, are as real as the other way around. Being able to briefly share your joy or sadness on something, makes this meeting something to look out for, and it’s an easy way to share stuff with your team and fortify your future collaboration. When a team member feels heard and seen, he’ll tend to stick around longer.

Run through the notes

Start with the points of concern. This is because of two reasons. You don’t want to spoil a good vibe, and people seem to cling on to the vibe they left a meeting with. This way, the momentum you’ve built during the discussing of positive things will carry on after the meeting. Create piles of all + and – notes

Guiding the meeting

Rotate members to read the cards (different member per retro). This trains them in speaking and conducting meetings (even though this is a very small and safe meeting), which will help them in the future. Also, you’ll prevent biassing the meetings with the tone of one person that always reads the cards.

Let someone take notes, but only on the action points. So when the team discusses the cards, only write down how they think they can do better. When the meeting is over, create a page with a retro template in Confluence (or any other tool you use). Take the stack of + cards and write them on the column ‘what we did well’. Take the stack of – cards and write them on ‘what should we have done better’, and take the notes of the discussions and put them on ‘actions’.

Revisit the list of previous action points at the end of each meeting and compare them with the list of actions from the previous time. Don’t add unsolved actions to the new action list. When an action didn’t get recurrence, it fell out of grace and might have not been a thing for an action point after all. Do ask which of the actions have been done, and update your previous actions so they get marked done. You can look over-time if actions get recurrence. This enables you to detect inefficiencies within your way of working.