TCLP 2008-03-12 Inner Chapter: Pulling Your Own Weight (Comment Line 240-949-2638)

This is a feature cast.

The hacker word of the week this week is crunch.

The feature is a new Inner Chapter on the practice of pulling your own weight.

Download the show directly. Grab the detailed show notes with time offsets and additional links either as PDF or OPML.

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3 Replies to “TCLP 2008-03-12 Inner Chapter: Pulling Your Own Weight (Comment Line 240-949-2638)”

  1. Hi there

    I’ve listened to a few of your podcasts earlier, but this episode from yesterday is the first one that really “got me going” and made me have to react. 🙂

    I’m a lifetime geek, a former tech supporter, a former programmer, a former academic (computer science and information systems) and a current software designer.

    Here are three perspectives on your anecdotes.

    From a pedagogical perspective, I think you spoiled your point by including the three “anecdotes” in that degree of detail and derision.

    As I understood it, your point / message / lesson of the day is that everybody has to pull their own weight before they should start concerning themselves with other people’s work, giving advice, etc. I’m guessing most of your listeners agree with you.

    But the examples you choose to illustrate your point describe three clueless people; people who clearly had/have very little grasp of reality and their own contributions. None of your listeners will identify with these three clueless people.

    These people weren’t capable to take your advice (they all thought/think that they’re doing fine, pulling their weight). Even if these three people themselves were listening to your podcast, they wouldn’t identify with the people you described.

    If there are people in your audience who could benefit from your lesson of the day, almost by definition they won’t think your message is about and for them — the point will go right over their head.

    I found the first anecdote about your least favorite developer particularly disturbing, and I wonder why you went so far into specifics, why you went to so much effort to slam the guy?

    From a people / leadership / organizational perspective, nobody comes out of your story looking very good:

    – You’ve hung the guy out to dry: You spell out that his productivity is a third of anybody else’s (even the most junior team members), he makes costly mistakes and is generally clueless.

    – You’ve hung the management out to dry: You say everybody else have independently noticed the guy’s poor productivity; but the guy is still around… management must be clueless about what’s going on in their company.

    – You’ve hung yourself out to dry as a team lead: You’re his lead/boss/manager in some capacity or other, the guy should be fired for poor performance, but somehow you’re incapable of making that happen, despite your position and plenty of quantitative evidence of under-performance and even wrong-doing by the guy.

    IANAL (I am not a lawyer) but from a legal perspective this sounds like bullying to me. He can argue that he remained in the job (so obviously management was satisfied with him), and yet a dev lead was deriding him in a very public forum — a popular, award winning (etc.) podcast — claiming that everyone else in the team or department agrees.

    I think the last point takes it beyond you as an individual expression your personal opinion and into collective territory (“Joe, we all think you’re a douche bag”) which makes it the company’s responsibility.

    Cheers from Vancouver,
    Jan Karlsbjerg

  2. Thank you, Jan. You’ve given me a lot to think about.

    To be honest, I had reservations about the anecdotes, too. I could not put my finger on what was bothering me, you have done so–and then some. The anecdotes don’t do a good job at conveying my point. I let some poor judgement get in the way of that. That was not fair as a leader in my professional life and as a recognized podcaster trying to share ideas with my audience. I used the show as a personal venting ground in a way that isn’t entirely appropriate. You’ve reminded me of a line I should be hesitant to cross.

    I’d like to respond in more detail and re-address my point with some more positive examples in a second take, this coming week. I’d like to read your entire comment as part of that, I rightly deserve the criticism.

  3. My hat is off to you, sir!

    My often blunt style of “direct feedback” elicits all kinds of reactions, and yours here is probably the classiest one I’ve seen so far.

    You’re more than welcome to read my comment on the show. I look forward to next week’s episode. 🙂

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