#96 - 16 Jan 2022
The Office as a Tool; Ask for feedback; Copy questions, not answers
Hi everyone - Happy New Year!
Here at Manager, Ph.D. HQ, we’re slowly getting back into the swing of things after a long and relaxing holiday break - I hope it was relaxing and refreshing for you, your close ones, and your teams as well.
Why We Need to Think of the Office as a Tool, with Very Specific Uses - Tsedal Neeley and Adi Ignatius, HBR
As we get ready to enter the third calendar year of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s pretty clear that research computing teams’ relationship to the office and campus has changed in a way that will stay changed for the rest of our careers.
That doesn’t mean that a shared office has no place in our plans any more - and certainly campus matters! - but I think it’s pointed out to all of us that we were both leaning too heavily on being in person to avoid certain communication problems, while somehow also failing to take full advantage of the opportunities that being co-located with each other and with the broader research community provided.
This article is an interesting nuanced discussion between Neeley and Ignatius, but I think the most insightful and productive idea is right there in the title - the office is a tool, like slack or google docs or work-issued laptops, and it’s for us in our own local contexts to decide the best things to make with that tool, for our teams and for the communities we serve.
Handling Talent Fear - Aviv Ben-Yosef
With the tech hiring market red-hot, I know one manager who has exactly the talent fear Ben-Yosef describes here; they feel unwilling to be too directive or give too much feedback or coaching to their team members for fear that they leave. Yes, people can leave, and while they are on the team, it’s your duty to them and to the team as a whole to give them the feedback they need to get better and for the team to work together effectively.
If you find that challenging even in other times, in #74 we had a good article, A Manager’s Guide to Holding Your Team Accountable by Dave Bailey, about building accountability within a team, and we’ve covered a number of articles on giving clear feedback and coaching. There’s a good recent article at First Round Review by and Anita Hossain Choudhry and Mindy Zhang, The Best Managers Don’t Fix, They Coach — Four Tools to Add to Your Toolkit on coaching for addressing performance growth.
Tech 1-on-1 ideas & scripts - Rob Whelan
Here are some scripts or ideas for discussions for one-on-one meetings with team members, broken up into four categories of situations:
Nothing from me - skip this one?
Everything is (really) fine
This is fine (on fire)
Something has to change
They’re short reads but useful for clarifying your thinking before going into one-on-ones; certainly for new managers and it’s always worth refreshing on the basics.
Managers should ask for feedback - CJ Cenizal
Cenizal makes what should be an uncontroversial - but relatively uncommonly followed - point that managers should be routinely asking for input on their own behaviours and leadership from their team members. This is much more easily done if there are routine one-on-ones, if the ask for input is also routine (not necessarily every one-on-one, but frequent), and the manager has a habit of demonstrating that they take such input seriously and are comfortable talking about their weaknesses and missteps. All of this is prerequisite for getting better at being a manager, team lead, project manager, or any other kind of leader! In the article, Cenizal lays out the steps:
Establish the fundamentals (one-on-ones, and giving feedback)
Solicit feedback, supported by demonstrating transparency, vulnerability, and asking good questions (e.g. “what should I be doing differently”, not just “is there anything I should be doing differently” or, worse, “how am I doing”
Accept what you hear
Think and plan
I’d add a final step, following up with the team member. It’s important to show that you’ve taken the input and what underlies it seriously, even if you don’t adopt their proposed solution wholesale.
Managing Your Own Career
Copy the Questions, not the Answers - Jessica Joy Kerr
When getting advice from others - about your job, or your career - people tend to jump into giving you the answers (“When I was in this situation, I did X; you should do X”) but those answers rarely translate to your situation. Kerr reminds us that you don’t want to copy others answers, but it may be very useful to copy the questions they asked themselves and their decision making process.
Navigating Your Career Towards Your Own Definition of Success - Miri Yehezkel
Your Action Plan to DRI Your Career - Cate Huston
There’s only one person in charge of your career, and that’s you - you’re the Directly Responsible Individual (DRI) in the lingo of Apple’s internal decision-making process. Huston spells out concrete steps to take in planning your next move; Yehezkel’s article talks more about figuring out what you want, and how to prepare yourself at your current position before taking those next steps.
A really promising-looking free course and online book on Biological Modelling by Philip Compeau, who was part of the unambiguously excellent bioinformatics algorithms coding tutorial project Rosalind and “Bioinformatics Algorithms: An Active-Learning Approach” book.
A quantum computing emulator written in SQL with a nice tutorial explanation of state vector representations and some basic gates.