One of the things I like to do for my personal learning is revisiting some of the articles and papers that had an impact on me to see if they come across differently after months or years. I forget how I got there today I’ve had Eric Sink’s Career Calculus post in a tab all day and have been chatting about it in various directions. The whole article is GREAT, and I highly recommend a careful reading to anybody in a professional role of any sort.
However, one paragraph jumps out at me and makes me realize how lucky I’ve been in my direct managers throughout my career:
The second risk is the possibility that your manager will become afraid
of you. Some managers really prefer to have a zero-derivative team.
Whether consciously or not, they stack their team with stagnant people
who are not likely to threaten their position. If you are on just such
a team and you suddenly become a “first derivative developer”, you are
upsetting a very delicate balance. Your manager may react
unpredictably. You may be labeled a troublemaker. He may even
contrive some excuse to fire you.
I’ve NEVER felt threatened about making honest mistakes. Even when a client could raise hell about it, I’ve always had amazing support from my managers (thanks Raman, Chris, Chris, James, and Jim) and know that they had support from above. More and more, the advice I give people asking about their companies is whether they want to work someplace where they’re not allowed to do the right thing ™. There’s always arguments about what’s right, but a culture where it’s a bad thing to “Stop the Line” isn’t a place I want to work. Thus, when Eric said “Don’t work for a manager who is actively hindering your practice of constant learning. Just don’t do it.” it really didn’t apply to me and I just moved on, but he is deadly accurate. Now, with more experience under my belt (and folding out over it in places), I recognize his wisdom so much more.
As an aside in the context of the calculus article, I think people should also look around them for a “High ambient L”. If you work with people that learn a lot, you’ll learn a lot. If you help the people around you learn, the collective C raises for your organization, and you have more fun at work. Easy! Right now, I’m very happy because I’m surrounded by the best meshed, most experienced overall team I’ve ever worked with. I’ve worked with many individuals that are higher L or higher G than here, and even individuals with much higher C than here, but the overall average C around me is so much better, and it all meshes. This is a thing to be savored and valued.