Management Myth 25: Performance Reviews Are Useful

Bill popped his head into Jan’s office as he was leaving for the evening. “Jan, do you have a minute? I have to do performance reviews tonight. I was going to drink Scotch and work my way through all of them.” Jan laughed and said, “Sure. Scotch might make you feel good, but it will definitely not solve your performance review problem. “Why are you still doing performance reviews? I stopped doing them. I worked with HR and convinced them performance reviews were a useless relic of the past. What do you want to get out of performance reviews?” “Me, I don’t want anything out of them. I do them for HR.” Bill was as sure of this as he was of the fact that he needed liquid courage to write them. “That’s nonsense. You have one-on-ones, right?” “Well, I mostly have them. I mostly have them every other week.” Jan gave him the what-are-you-thinking? look. “That’s a problem. If you don’t have regular one-on-ones, you can’t do performance reviews. But the problem isn’t the review. The problem is feedback and building a trusting relationship, isn’t it? She explained more. “The idea behind a performance review is that you provide feedback to your employee. Now that we are agile, do you have any idea what your people are doing on a daily basis?” “Uh, no. They work independently. Sure, if they need me, I help. But I don’t help much anymore.” “OK, so why would you do performance reviews?” “I guess I can’t,” Bill responded. “Exactly. You need the team to provide feedback to each other. Do they know...

Management Myth 26: It’s Fine to Micromanage

Sharon poked her head into Heath’s cubicle. “Hey, Heath, are you done yet with that fix?” Heath turned around. “Sharon, you asked me that less than an hour ago. I’m not done yet.” “Well, I need to know when you will be done. Oh, and I need to know if you’re using the design we discussed.” Heath started to turn red. “We didn’t discuss any design at all. You told me a design to use. Because you used that design back in the day, back when you were a developer. So you want me to use it now. Are you delegating this fix to me or not? Do you want to do it?” Damon tapped Sharon on the shoulder before she could reply. “Sharon, it sounds as if you need information. It also sounds as if Heath needs time to finish that fix. How about I help?” Sharon looked relieved. So did Heath. “That would be great,” she replied. “I have another Ops meeting in fifteen minutes where everyone is going to ask me when the fix will be done. I’d really like to know the answer.” She took off down the hall, texting on her phone as she went. Damon sat down next to Heath. “OK, tell me what’s going on. You sound as if you’re at the end of your rope.” “I know this is a critical fix. But Sharon won’t let me do my job,” Heath said. “It’s not just this fix; it’s anything. She wants to design this fix for me. She’s come over here five times this morning, and its not even noon. OK,...

Management Myth 24: People Don’t Need External Credit

“Robert, do you have a minute?” Cheryl, the development manager, stood at her director’s door. “Sure, let me save this.” Robert stopped what he was doing. “You look worried. Come on over and let’s sit at the visitors table. This looks serious.” “Well, it is. I’m not sure how to say it, so I’ll just spit it out.” Robert nodded. Cheryl took a deep breath. “You remember the big push to finish the release last month? We’re agile, but our transition is shaky. We actually pulled some overtime, which we’re not supposed to do. We didn’t extend our timebox, but not everyone worked just forty hours a week. Some people worked close to sixty hours the entire timebox. It was a very tough two-week iteration. “You came around to our demo, which was great. The team appreciated your thanks. You even wrote individual thank-you email notes. It looked like you really understood what the team did. “But you took credit for what the team did at the Ops meeting. At least, that’s what it seemed like to me and to everyone on the team. Maybe you can tell me what really happened. I’m upset, and I didn’t even realize it had happened. Someone on the team read the public minutes, so now the team is upset. Please tell me what happened.” Robert shook his head. “Oh, boy, that’s not what I intended at all. But I can understand that’s how it came across. “At the Ops meeting, all the directors explain how their projects and programs are proceeding. You know that, right?” Cheryl nodded. “Well, they were in a...

Management Myth 23: You Can Manage Any Number of People as a Manager

“Cindy, I need to add three more people to your team.” Patrick, the CTO, leaned in the doorway. He turned, about to walk away. “Wait a sec. We need to discuss this. You don’t get to drop that bombshell and leave. Why do you want me to hire more people?” Cindy looked concerned. “No, I don’t want you to hire anyone,” Patrick said. “I’m moving them over from Tranh’s team. He’s not coaching them well. You coach your team well. He’s not. I want you to manage them.” “If you give me three more people, I won’t be able to coach them properly. I won’t have time,” Cindy replied. “You don’t want me to make team leads, which I don’t understand. I’ll have twelve people, which is too many. No. I don’t want them. Give them to someone else or let me manage my team the way I want.” Patrick walked in and sat down. ‘What do you mean, ‘manage the way you want’? I don’t interfere with you.” Cindy snorted. “Sure you do. You have all kinds of rules. I can’t have team leads. I must have a minimum of three people to manage. I must write code, no matter how many people I manage or what else I’m doing for you. “None of your rules makes sense in an agile organization. None of these helps me manage the project portfolio or provide coaching or career development or the kind of feedback that makes sense. They don’t help me help the product owners or the program managers. They don’t help me work on the architectural decisions for where...

Management Myth 22: If You’re Not Typing, You’re Not Working

“James, I need to talk to you about Bill.” Susanne shut the door and sat down in the visitor chair. “OK, what’s up?” James stopped typing at his computer. He walked to his visitor table and sat down. “I just walked by Bill’s office. He’s leaning back in his chair. I could swear he’s snoring!” Susanne yanked at her sleeves, her brow furrowed. “He’s not working. If he’s not typing, how could he be working?” “Susanne, what did you do before you were the CIO?” James decided to lead her to the answer instead of answering directly. “What do you mean? I was a manager of technology.” “OK, and before that?” “I was a project manager. And a darn good one.” “I bet you were. How long has it been since you did technical work? Fifteen years? Twenty years? I’m not asking your age. I know, never ask a lady her age. I wouldn’t ask if you were a gentleman, either. I’m making a point about different personalities and technical work. “Some people need to think about their work. Sometimes, they take a walk. Sometimes, they lean back in their chairs and they close their eyes. Sometimes, when Bill does that, he actually does nap. It’s OK; it won’t be for more than fifteen minutes. When he wakes up and opens his eyes, he’s going to have a terrific idea—or, more likely, three terrific ideas—that he will share with the team. “Some people need to discuss their work to generate ideas. If Bill were having a meeting with people, would you object?” “No, of course not!” “Right. And if...