ELCOM: Career Plans for Developers – Part II

Posted on February 4, 2008. Filed under: Elcom, Management |

Further to my post about career plans for developers at Elcom, I wanted to mention the approach of encouraging staff to build their personal profiles.

It can be summed up in this attitude:

Your job (as a developer and employee) is to be so good that you are being chased by head-hunters all the time.

My job (as Technical Director) is to make the work environment so good that you don’t want to leave.

I feel this is a sensible approach, for a number of reasons:

Firstly, I don’t want staff who aren’t improving. Rather I want them continually pushing themselves to do bigger and better things. Momentum must be maintained. If we aren’t improving, then realistically we are going backwards…

Secondly, the better skilled they are, the better the result for Elcom.

Thirdly, the better well known they are, the more well known Elcom becomes.

Fourth, the better well known Elcom is, the better the caliber of candidate we can attract to join and grow Elcom.

Keeping a great team in place is a tricky thing, and I’m not claiming to be an expert at it. But in case you think that encouraging developers to be head-hunted is a crazy notion, here’s a few tidbits I’ve observed over the years.

The job market is tight

The first is that the IT market is very tight. If a developer wants to find a new job, they won’t have much trouble. And *some* recruiters are becoming more ruthless and unethical by the day…

So, if you assume that your staff will stay on board simply because they can’t get another job – you are deluding yourself – either that or they are so bad that they really can’t get another job and you should have fired them ages ago anyway!

Feeling valued

The second is that most developers want to feel as though they are making a contribution that is both valuable and valued. (Note: This, sadly, is the reason many look for another job – they feel a sense of being valued when some other company offers them a job). Thus, by encouraging developers to better themselves, and perhaps become well known in the community, we are encouraging them to feel valued.

We’re people after all

Thirdly and most importantly, developers are people. Sure, they are an asset, resource, body, project plan item, etc too. But the important thing is: we as people grow via our relationships. At work we need to remind ourselves every day that our relationships with our colleagues are what affect our morale, productivity, generosity and ultimately longevity in a company. Common sense I know. But easy to forget in the over-worked, email deluged, constantly interrupted hours between breakfast and bed time.

Have I missed something obvious? Please leave me a comment.

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ELCOM: Career plans for Developers – Part I

Posted on January 30, 2008. Filed under: Elcom, Management |

Part of my brief at Elcom is to look after all the developers (ie people management). This is something I enjoy, especially when seeing developers grow and improve themselves.

During November and December I sat down with each of my staff and started preparing their career plans. It is their responsibility to work out their goals and aspirations, it is my job to facilitate that happening (within reason of course).

The process involves preparation by the developer (approx 1 hour), then a chat with me (1-2 hours) and then some updating of notes, consolidation of ideas, etc.

During the chat we cover everything, including likes and dislikes, books, training, aims and goals, money, gripes, and then finish with some KPIs.

I thought others might be interested in how we conducted the process. Attached is the Career Plan brief, which outlines the method. I’ve included my original one, which has a few problems.

Based on feedback from the team during the process, I will be updating it to fix a few things. For example, the doc has various time frames that it asks about which can be confusing, however my point is this: when setting goals we often over-estimate what we can achieve in 1 year, but under-estimate what we can achieve in 3 years. So we need to have short term and longer term goals continually in mind.

The file is a Word document. Feel free to take it, improve it, use it if useful to you and your role. I’m open to any comments and suggestions you have…

Download here

(Here’s the books we have ordered so far, here’s the ones still to be ordered)

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