Recently I read "Who: The A method for hiring." It calls for creating a scorecard to evaluate potential employees. I thought, well, that's a good idea. I could do the same for an employer!

This blog post presents my scorecard for evaluating potential employers (including myself). The goals for this blog post are threefold:

  1. Clarify my understanding by writing about the topic.
  2. Share what I am learning with the online community.
  3. Develop a scorecard with which to evaluate employers (myself included).
A little about me: I am a software developer who has been working remotely since about 2020. In my spare time, I run a small coffee shop on Salt Spring Island. The unrelated photo is of our new compost!

Without further ado, here is my scorecard for evaluating an employer.

Employer Mission

The employer exists to communicate required outcomes, to set time-boxes within which to complete those outcomes, and to provide support in achieving those outcomes.

Employer Outcomes

Payroll

  1. Pays on time without prompting.
  2. Pays in currency (e.g. Canadian/US) instead of stock options.

Meetings

  1. Conducts a daily stand-up that follows a consistent format.
  2. Conducts meetings that are fewer than 55-minutes long.
  3. Holds fewer than two hours of meetings per day.
  4. Gives staff 2-hours of notice for meetings (especially for meeting > 15-minutes).
  5. Includes the meeting agenda in the meeting invite.

Software Development Life Cycle

  1. Releases code to production at least once a week (and ideally once a day).
  2. Only the continuous deployment pipeline releases code to production.

Evaluation

  1. Evaluates success based on measurable criteria defined at task outset.
  2. Defines tasks in terms of SMART goals with clear outcomes. Paterson (2016) defines these as specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-defined.

Interviewing New Talent

  1. Sends a thank-you letter to potential hires within 24-hours of each interview.
  2. Explains to new talent the reason for declining an offer.

Public Artifacts

  1. Publishes a blog about the company and its culture.
  2. Includes pages on its website that explain its policies and procedures.

Competencies: Behavioural Fit

  1. Outcome Focus. Clearly communicates required outcome goals.
  2. Trust. Avoids involvement in task implementation details.
  3. Task focus. Keeps workplace communication generally about work.
  4. Consistency. Acts in a way that is consistent with words. Speaks in a way that shows a consistent underlying philosophy.
  5. Adult. Restrains impulses and manages own emotions.
  6. Async Communication.  Communicates deliberately through synchronous methods such as email and project management software. Rarely uses instant messenger.
  7. ...
  8. ...

Competencies: Organizational Fit

From Guarding Minds @ Work

  1. Balance. The employer encourages work-life balance e.g. by encouraging breaks and vacations.
  2. Civility and Respect. Conflict resolution is civilized and fair. Staff have interactions that show mutual respect and consideration.
  3. Clear Leadership and Expectations. Staff know what they need to do and understanding upcoming changes.
  4. Engagement. For the most part, employees are using their strengths at work.
  5. Growth and Development. Employers are supporting their staff to grow, learn, and change by providing useful feedback and appropriate challanges.
  6. Involvement and Influence. Each employee has at least some control over their work and how to complete work.
  7. Organizational Culture. Trust, fairness, and honesty underpins all interactions.
  8. Protection of Physical Safety. This is basically WorkSafeBC.
  9. Psychological Protection. The employer ensures that staff have the skills to handle the psychological pressure of the task.
  10. Psychological and Social Support. This includes protection from bullying, harassment, discimination, and other unecessary stresses.
  11. Recognition and Reward. This includes not only financial remuneration but also recognition, appreciation, and celebration of achievements.
  12. Workload Management. Assigned tasks are manageable within the time available.

From Who: The A method for hiring (Smart, 2008)

"Who" says that retaining top talent requires selling these five aspects of work.

  1. Freedom
  2. Fortune
  3. Fit
  4. Family
  5. Fun

From Rapid Development (MacConnell, 1996)

"Rapid Development" has a chapter on Motivation. The chapter lists its "top five" developer motivations.

  1. Achievement via Ownership and Goal Setting
  2. Possibility for Growth
  3. Work Itself via Skill Variety, Task Identity, Task Significance, Autonomy, Job Feedback, and Opportunity to Focus on the Work Itself
  4. Personal Life
  5. Technical-Supervision Opportunity

"Rapid Development" lists also list three other less important albeit relevant motivating factors.

  1. Rewards and Incentives
  2. Pilot Projects
  3. Performance Reviews

"Rapid Development" closes out the this chapter with nine "morale killers".

  1. Hygeine factors
  2. Management manipulation
  3. Excessive schedule pressure
  4. Lack of appreciation for development's efforts
  5. Inappropriate involvement of technically inept management
  6. Not involving development in decisions that affect them
  7. Productivity barriers
  8. Low quality
  9. Heavy handed motivation campaigns

From my Own Personal Experience

  1. Freedom. Provides staff with clear outcomes and then gets out of the way.
  2. Shoulders of Genius. Follows prior art where prior art exists.
  3. Systems Approach. Curates the team and culture as a system that has standards, awareness, and effort. Changes the system instead of blaming the actors.
  4. Evidence-based. Where there are multiple competing approaches, chooses the approach that has scientific support.
  5. 80%. Runs the company at 80% capacity to allow for unforeseen exigencies.
  6. Acknowledged Power Dynamics. Those with more power at the company (e.g. the power to dismiss staff) learn ways to avoid the corrupting influence of power and the unfortunate outcomes of unacknowledged power.
  7. ...

Recommended Reading

These references have had a large impact on my approach to workplace culture. I've mentioned some of them in this blog post.

Guarding Minds at Work. Know the Psychosocial Factors. (n.d.) Retrieved November 03, 2020, from http://www.guardingmindsatwork.ca/about/about-psychosocial-factors

Basecamp. Group Chat: The Best Way to Totally Stress Out Your Team. (n.d.) Retrieved November 03, 2020, from https://basecamp.com/guides/group-chat-problems

Locklear, M. (2020, May 20). Learning to work asynchronously takes time. Retrieved November 09, 2020, from https://stackoverflow.blog/2020/05/04/learning-to-work-asynchronously-takes-time/

Paterson, R. J. (2016). How to be miserable: 40 strategies you already use.

Smart, G., Street, R., & Tantor Media, Inc. (2008). Who: The A method for hiring. Old Saybrook, Ct.: Tantor Media, Inc.

Meadows, D. H., & Wright, D. (2015). Thinking in systems: A primer.

Forsgren, N., Humble, J., & Kim, G. (2018). Accelerate: The science behind DevOps : building and scaling high performing technology organizations.

MacConnell, S. (1996). Rapid development: Taming wild software shcedules. Redmon: Microsoft Press.