Review and reflection on my job

One of the things Critical Mass introduced years ago was performance management. I was glad to see it come. Radical Entertainment had it when I worked there, and I lamented the lack of such evaluation when I came to Calgary. You never really know how well you’re doing until there’s a good form of evaluation that keeps you in check. Having your manager say you’re doing a good job doesn’t mean as much as those above, beside, and below you saying that you need to improve.

This year, we introduced six-month reviews. It’s been a little hard for us to get them done, as summer is always the busiest time for us — we rarely get a chance to breathe, let alone reflect on the work we’ve done individually. So it took a bit longer for me to get my review. And I’m glad I did.

Simple fact is, I’ve been walking a very thin line for a while. While I honestly believe that I’ve adapted to being a Technology Director, I knew that I’m a long way from having mastered this job. What I learned will hopefully set me on the right path. It’s exposed some of my weaknesses and assumptions, and I hope it will also guide the way to bettering myself.

I have a new manager now, Chris. Despite the fact that we’ve never worked together over the last six and a half years, Chris and I seem to have a decent understanding of each other. That’s important, as without understanding, you can’t have comprehension. That said, some of what we each see is sometimes shrouded in differences of opinion and perception. Both of which are my responsibility to change.

Some of that I have done. I have convinced others that I can be more than a Web Developer, that I can see beyond the way things must be to the way things can be. To see technology as a means to and end, and not the end itself. There are still things that I must fight for, but with the knowledge of knowing when to pick my battles.

For example, when you more-or-less yell at the Senior Vice President and at the Chief Operating Officer because you disagree with a business decision, you deserve to get your ass handed to you. You deserve to get thrown out of the building without so much as a "goodbye". It doesn’t matter if you believe that you’re right — or even if everyone else believes that you are right. It matters only that you follow the rights of diplomacy and chain-of-command. You need to accept that there are those who will make the decisions to do things, whether or not those decisions are correct. (Because as we all know, there is always different ways of perceiving what exactly is "correct".)

I fought a losing battle, and I’ve taken a beating for it. And rightly so. These are the things that I need to change. Not only with those above me, but those below me. In the last week alone, I’ve had near arguments with members on my team with a direction I set. I want the argument, mind you — I never wish to set potentially controversial directions without challenge. But I have to learn not to lose my temper, just as I have over the last week, when those decisions are challenged.

On my goal setting, I had said I wanted to be more involved with new business pitches. Little do I know how many people put that down among their goals as well. Before I set in front of a client, I need to convince Critical Mass that I can talk the talk, and walk the walk. I honestly don’t believe that I’m that far off, really, but I’ll probably be better off early next year, after the current project is well underway and technology has proven itself. One step at a time, so it were.

One piece of advice that Chris gave me, which I think quite an apt one: define my expectations of the team I work with. Not just for myself, but for them as well. Make sure that level of communication is known and understood. That will help everyone understand where I’m coming from, and why certain directions are set.

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