#141 - Your End-of-year Review. You Did Great.
Your End-Of-Year Review
You did great this year.
I wanted to take some time to personally recognize the work you’ve put in during 2022. You have been a terrific support for your team and the work your team enables, and I appreciate all of your efforts.
It hasn’t been easy, but you worked hard over the last twelve months. You’ve done well by your team members, and by the research your team supports. Enjoy that and celebrate that over the holidays. You deserve it.
We both know that our jobs as leaders and managers are really challenging.
The work of our organizations starts and ends with teams like yours. They are the ones who get the work done. Our first job is making sure they’re flourishing individually, and working together well collectively as a team, both for their sakes and the sake of the research they enable.
So I’m particularly impressed by the effort you’re putting in to learn how to better support your team. There’s a million things on your plate right now, and your bosses and louder researchers aren’t going to sing your praises for reading long newsletters or digging into blog posts or asking questions on slack groups or watching talks online about better managing team members and teams. But you know it’s important, so you do it, and I’m impressed by the new skills you’ve picked up.
This year you and I talked about how the patient tending to management tasks is like gardening, and I know you can still find that frustrating sometimes, feeling like you have managerial sensory deprivation compared to getting immediate answers back when you used to do more technical work you used to have. But you’re doing great here, continuing to show curiosity and collecting data by asking questions and making notes.
When working with individuals, I know providing all your team members with the direct feedback they need (and want) continues to be hard and feel a bit unnatural, but I really like the strides you’re continuing to make there. Clear feedback is a key piece making sure everyone has the support they want. We’ve talked about your retention worries that you (and all your colleagues) have, and though it may not feel like it, this will really help.
And of course with the end of year upon us, that reminds me that you and I were talking about helping yourself enjoy time off and team members grow professionally by using holidays to practice delegation, and otherwise helping others get ready for management. Your commitment to making sure your team members continue to grow is admirable — I certainly admire it — and the things you’ve been working on along these lines are fantastic (and will help with retention too!)
We both recognize the importance of managing individuals as individuals and teams as teams, and your dedication to making sure the team is working well collectively is really paying off. Things like retrospectives, acknowledging importance of internal knowledge sharing, and using process as a labour-saving (and variance-reducing) device has meant that your team is moving together more and more strongly, building on each other’s hard work. It’s just fantastic to see.
You’re also doing well with saying no, although I know that never comes easily. I’d like to think our talks discussing strategy helped, but I know that you’ve always been able to prioritize, and to see big problems and figure out clear focussed solutions. Great job.
And of course we should talk about your own professional growth, too. I’d love to see you continue to excel in your current role - or at least your current organization, taking on new responsibilities. But your training and your experience gives you superpowers and I’d be remiss if I didn’t make sure you were considering the different kinds of jobs that need your skills.
Let’s talk a bit about the coming year. I’m cautiously optimistic about that new role you were hoping to hire for. We’ve discussed the internship program and how that could play a role. With luck our discussions about hiring - starting with a definition of success, designing onboarding plans accordingly, and actively recruiting - will be something you can put into practice.
We both know 2023 isn’t going to be easy. Once again, we’re being asked to “make do with less.”
But given what I’ve seen this year, I’m confident you can shine next year, too. You have what it takes; you’re making strides in all the right areas; you know what’s important and you’re building your skills. I’m always around if you have a question or need some support - just email me or ping me if you want to have a call.
Congratulations again, and thanks for everything you’re doing for your team and for our community. Please accept my very warmest wishes for you and yours over the holidays, and may you have an amazing 2023.
All my best through this holiday season,
The problem of management in two graphs - Ethan Mollick
Mollick collects some research about what’s known about people working in teams:
As team size grows with fixed task size, people individually put in less effort, but there’s wider collaboration, leading to better ideas
Teams that alternate between working together and time spent working individually come up with a broader set of possible solutions than either teams working entirely as groups or entirely solo
Collective intelligence of a team is limited by the emotional intelligence of the least sensitive team member
Teams that have good processes are more likely to have higher collective intelligence, because process let’s people asynchronously coordinate
Teleconference calls without video seem to promote more frequent syncing and have more even turn-taking than with video on.
Fascinating - simulate breadboarding in the browser, including with arduinos running your own code, using diode.
The power of visual models is easy to overlook - riffusion uses the standard openly-available stable diffusion image generation model, fine-tuned on spectrograms of music, to create a “text to music” generator for sentences like “funky bassline with a jazzy saxophone solo”. Really interesting music-to-music transitions there too.
A crash course intro to GPT-3.
And that’s it for 2022. Let me know what you thought, or if you have anything you’d like to share about the newsletter or management. Just email me or reply to this newsletter if you get it in your inbox.
Have a great weekend, a wonderful holidays, and good luck in the coming year with your team!
“A diverse group of computer programmers toast the new year 2023”, Midjourney v4. Off by a couple hundred years, but hey, it’s been a long twelve months.