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A Better Performance Improvement Plan

In Management, Solving the World's Problems, Technology by Pete

One thing that seems unite devs and managers is a distrust and dislike for Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs). The internet is awash with advice to workers that once they’re on a PIP, it’s time to get their resume cleaned up because the decision has already been made to fire them and they’re on borrowed time. PIPs, like meetings or Scrum or SLOs, are a tool an organization has that can be abused and none of these ideas are going to fix PIPs at companies with toxic leadership. But, done well, they can be an invaluable to both employees and employers. Improving the PIP 0. Do it for the Right Reasons If you’re If you’ve already decided to fire the person, …

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Are You Special Enough to Skip the Interview?

In Management, Programming, Technology by Pete

Let’s talk about this1. The essential thesis of the thread is that @getify is so obviously talented (did you know he wrote a book on recursion?) that it is foolish to ask him to do technical interviews and proof that companies will replace devs with AI. There’s a lot more that can be said about this thread specifically2, but let’s address the general question: should we as hiring managers expect an obvious expert be expected to demonstrate their technical ability in an interview? The answer, in almost all circumstances, is: yes. Right-Sizing an Interview Just because everyone needs to go through a technical screen does not mean that every kind of technical screen is worth your time. First and foremost, …

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The Hidden Costs of Missing a Good Hire

In Management, Programming, Technology by Pete

The vast majority of hiring processes in tech are premised on the fact that they’d rather hire nobody than make a single bad hire. The rationale for this is often that the cost of a bad hire is far bigger than the cost of missing on a good candidate. This is pure conjecture. Any blanket statement about these relative costs is a clear indication that the person making it hasn’t really thought very hard about it. Every team has different risks and opportunities. There’s been a lot written about the cost of a bad hire, but let’s look at the costs of missing on a good one. The Obvious Costs Missing on a good hire tends to have obvious direct …

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Grammer and Spelling Doesn’t Matter on Resumes

In Management, Programming, Technology by Pete

There’s a lot that can go wrong when non-experts insert themselves as filters in the hiring pipeline. But it tends to boil down to one outcome: you hire the wrong people. One of more annoying and harmful filters that bad HR folks apply at the top of the hiring funnel is around the form of a person’s resume rather than its content. Premise: The goal of a hiring process is to find, recruit, and hire the candidate who will have the greatest net impact on your company, who you can afford, and for as little cash and effort as possible. Each and every filter you apply should be directly tied to a critical job skill. This is especially true at …

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Getting Into Tech Is Easy

In Programming, Technology by Pete

Getting into software development is easy. Twitter is absolutely awash with advice for early career devs that basically amounts to “this is easy if you just try.” Dan is a white man with a Computer Science degree and has decided that if he, with no talent to speak of, can become successful, you folks with talent already should have no problems. I don’t think there’s any harm in people talking about their paths into tech, but I think we need to be honest about the privileges we had when we do that. How I Got Into Tech I taught myself to program when I was 12 by reading source code. In High School I took and passed the A.P. Computer …

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The Privilege of Passion

In Programming, Solving the World's Problems, Technology by Pete

An oft-repeated lie in software development is that passion is required for success. Dev Twitter has been on fire with this “debate” for the past few days, but this isn’t new. Early career developers are repeatedly told that they need passion and some misguided hiring managers explicitly look for “passion” as a marker of future success. This is bullshit. The only two things required to succeed at software development are skills and judgement. Passion doesn’t confer those skills — practice does. It’s certainly true that passion can be the motivating factor to do that practice — which can be long, difficult, and boring — but passion itself is neither necessary for greatness nor sufficient to achieve it. So why do …

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How to do Unlimited Vacation Right

In Management, Programming, Solving the World's Problems, Technology, Uncategorized by Pete

Unlimited PTO may be the second worst1 thing in the tech industry today that companies brag about. The main problem is that it’s an outright, obvious lie. Companies tell the obvious lie to avoid telling the truth. But there’s another problem: Unlimited PTO is really hard to do well. Let’s address the various gigantic fauna in the room: Unlimited PTO was dreamed up as a scam. In states where accrued PTO must be paid out by law, it’s a way for companies to avoid paying you what you’ve earned. What’s more, we know that people tend to take less vacation when they have an unlimited PTO plan. Whatever they might say out loud about vacation, be aware that your company’s …

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Fair Pay: A Blueprint

In Programming, Solving the World's Problems, Technology by Pete

As an engineering leader, one of the most important things I do is make sure that we pay people fairly for their work. The challenge, of course, is that pay is the result of a bunch of different variables, almost none of which are objective. How do we get to fair pay when there are so many opportunities for our own biases to slip in? The answer is to design processes and systems to eliminate or counteract bias. This is usually easier said than done, but I’ve found a compensation model that I think helps.

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Lambda School: Innovation or Scam?

In Programming, Technology by Pete

One of the newer code schools on the block is Lambda School. Their financing model recently came to my attention. It looks too good to be true. For many people it might be. Lambda School offers two products: A code school that charges $20,000 for a 30 week program Financing for said school The financing is important because they’re not accredited; traditional student loans aren’t available. They describe their financing mechanism on their front page: Pay Nothing Until You Make It No loans, no debt, and no up-front tuition. You’ll pay a percentage of income after you’re hired, but only if you’re making at least $50k/year. Their Austen Allred, their CEO, provided some extra details on Twitter: $50k Salary repayment …

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Killing the Coding Interview

In Programming, Solving the World's Problems, Technology by Pete

You don’t have to see a person’s code to figure out whether they’re a good developer. Over the past ten or so years, I’ve interviewed a lot of engineers. In that time, I’ve developed a set of techniques that allow me to quickly and accurately evaluate a developer without seeing their code. I’m now convinced that it’s not only possible, but objectively better to do it that way.