Codes & Waffles

Day 25: on people

Published 19 Feb 2018

A lot of people forget about people. It’s easy to work in a tech company and lose track of who’s actually writing the software and who’s consuming it. An industry which is not people focused just doesn’t exist. It’s a myth, like Unicorns 🦄 and Pegasus 🐴 (no wings emoji, that seems like a massive oversight).

Take care of people first

It’s all about people. An user’s frustration reflects badly on our UX. A developer’s frustration, reflects badly on their work, and will have an impact on the code that person writes. And this goes on for any role, and any type of company imaginable, because unhappy people can’t do their best, even if they want to.

Happy, motivated people do good work. I would go so far as to say that they do their best possible work, regardless of their role. Happy, motivated people care, and will go to great lengths to protect what they care about. In other words, happy, motivated people are the best employees, colleagues, team members, you name it. If this is so clear, then why do so many people hate their jobs?

Misaligned expectations

Disappointment is the void that forms when expectations and reality don’t meet. Hatred of a job is the disappointment we feel during more than half of our conscious hours. So, what can I do if I don’t want to hate my job? There are 2 things I’ve learned that help keep me sane.

  • Know Thyself ➡ What are the most important things you want in a job? If you have a list of things you need, then you know what your expectations are and it’s not as easy to feel disappointed.
  • Constant Self Assessment ➡ Compare yourself to who you were when you started. How much have you grown? Are you still growing? Is the direction you’re growing in the right one, based on your own career path? This is the only way to know if the place you’re in is still the right one, or if you need to do something about it.

But what about the other side? If you’re in a position to take care of others and try to keep them motivated and happy, what can you do? Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer here, since I’m not a manager. But what I can do, is talk about the things I like as an employee. So, here’s a non-exhaustive list of things that different managers and leaders along the way have done that have made my life a lot better.

  • Know me ➡ There’s nothing worst than having a meeting with HR with someone you’ve barely met. The best manager I ever had felt like a peer whom I could speak to about tech, life and everything in between with. Someone who honestly took an interest.
  • Micro-interactions ➡ It doesn’t have to be a long meeting every time. A cup of coffee and a “how are you doing?” Is usually enough.
  • Transparency ➡ Most people are more prone to accept change when it’s communicated clearly. Same with feedback. Bad feedback is easier to take when things are clearly explained.
  • Don’t use fear as a whip ➡ The manager - employee relation is by definition one of power. If the balance is off by a lot, the relationship breaks and can never be recovered. There’s nothing worse than fearing orders, it makes me recoil instinctively.
  • Trust ➡ In both directions. Trust in your people and they shall trust you.

Both sides are complicated, but the manager’s job involves more than an individual. It’s a huge responsibility, one that can have a great impact on every aspect of an organization. That’s why I admire people who’re brave enough to take on this responsibilities and do my best to make their job easier, as much as they make mine easier. It’s all about people in the end, and that includes all of us.

Personal Blog of Daniel Bolívar
Writer of Codes for the Webs