The inventory goes down the elevator every night.
— Fairfax Cone
In the previous posts, we talked about the multi-layered reality that comprises an Engineer. This will be the foundation of many of the upcoming posts, including this one. But the question on most people’s minds at this point is, “Where do I start?”
The first step, in my opinion, is to take inventory of your staff. You need to decide which attributes are important to you in assessing Engineers and then rank each member of your team against those criteria. I have included (below in the Resources section) a sample template that you could use as a starting point.
Each of the segments in each layer is included in this inventory. Notice that I have also included a column titled “x-factor” which refers to what I mentioned in my article on 10x Engineers (here): some developers are multiples more productive than others. You likely won’t have concrete data to support your scores in this column (although you can look at things like check-ins, lines of code written, story points closed, etc. to inform your assessment). As well, if I am new to the team, I put in pictures so that I can get to know my new team quickly (if you can learn 100 people’s names rapidly, you will be accepted faster into their tribe).
Once you have a clear picture of the team, you can start figuring out your next actions for each person on the team and the team as a whole. When I say “next actions”, there should be at least one near-term action for each person you manage. If they are struggling, it should be something to improve their performance, like a training course or the assignment of a mentor.
If they are really struggling, perhaps the next action is a dreaded Performance Improvement Plan. If they are shining, there should be some form or recognition or reward, such as a title promotion or nomination to a company reward program. Some of these actions you will share with the employee; others will be confidential. The Staff Dashboard template (from the References section) has areas for these actions.
We’ll add additional columns to this template as we move through this blog series (and future ones). For now, modify it as you see fit, or create your own in whatever technology you use regularly (such as Evernote).
This is one of my longer posts, so I’ll stop here, but there is much more to discuss on the topic of nurturing your team in Part 2. Please add your comments below as always.
This post is based on or excerpted from the upcoming book “De-Engineering the Corporation” by Darryl Ricker