#94 - 4 Dec 2021
The power of dissapointment; Templates for performance reviews and quarterly planning; Take time off intentionally
It’s a busy time of year, as we try to get things closed out before the holidays. For a lot of us, outlines of opportunities and connections for the next year are starting to come into view; if that’s the case for you, I hope you like what you are seeing!
For us, the familar challenges of negotiating multi-institutional (and multi-sectoral!) collaborations are starting to yield to steady effort, and the exciting work we want to do will be beginning in the new year. It’s an exciting time, but means the newsletter is late again this week.
Next issue will be the last one for 2021; that will give us all a little bit of a breather to rest and recharge, and start again fresh in 2022.
For now, on to the roundup - the second-last of 2021!
Leadership Word of the Day: DISAPPOINTED - Ed Batista
Our role power as managers or leads imparts extra weight to our words to our team members. So it’s important to choose carefully. Batista encourages us to make sure the word “disappointed” is in our toolbox for when we need to give negative feedback or discuss negative situations:
Emotions are attention magnets - so we have to be deliberate in expressing emotions
Not all emotions are created equal - anger generally isn’t constructive or effective
The power of being vulnerable
The Power of Performance Reviews: Use This System to Become a Better Manager - Lenny Rachitsky, First Round Review
A guide to quarterly planning (plus a template) - Nicole Kahansky, Hypercontext
Here’s potentially timely resources: a couple of articles here on periodic meetings that may well be happening for many of you in the coming weeks, with templates.
In the first article, Rachitsky describes his annual performance review, with a Google Doc template for what he shares with his team members. The template gives a (categorical) rating, lists accomplishments and peer feedback, and then highlights their greatest strength, gives high-level feedback, and digs into two development areas for the coming review period, each with summary, concrete examples and suggestions, and what success would look like. Then there’s a “what’s next” and “when” for them - could be new role, or new responsibilities.
Rachitsky sees a few common failure modes, including not spending enough time preparing, not providing really substantive feedback, having a one-sided conversation or not doing them at all, and not having a follow-up plan. He gives some examples of how to do followup, creating a two-sided followup plan which can then be touched on in one-on-ones or in separate meetings.
In the second, Kahansky gives an outline for a quarterly planning meeting. Quarterly is an excellent cadence for planning (and even performance reviews) for a lot of research computing teams; long enough between meetings that meaningful amounts of work can be done, but short enough to be able to react to our always-changing environment and needs. Kahansky outlines a five-point agenda:
Retrospective on last quarter
Brainstorm on what could be done to make a significant difference in the next quarter
What will have the biggest direct impact on goals
What external things are happening that need to be factored into the plan
What obstacles could stand in our way.
Managing Your Own Career
Be Intentional About How You Spend Your Time Off - Laura M. Giurge and Vanessa Bohns, HBR
With the holidays coming up, and another tough year for some of us, it’s important to take the time to recharge. But just not having meetings for a while doesn’t automatically refresh us. Setting (flexible) goals for things to do over your break and reconnecting with people are demonstrably successful ways to spend time recovering and refreshing yourself, as Guigre and Bohns show us.
There’s at least 350 million lines of running COBOL out there.
Oh hey, do you remember DESQview/X - DOS, but with X11?
Nice article from earlier in the year tracing out the history to the adoption of Command Palettes, like the one in VSCode.
In this week’s “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should” news: you can now compile your C code into… Excel.
Good-looking compiler course from CMU.
Capability map for SRE teams.