Self-Assessment Doesn’t Work, Either
We, as humans, are not so good at assessing ourselves, either. We are subject to the Dunning-Kruger effect, a cognitive bias where incompetent people overestimate their skills. They believe they are actually competent, or even superior. To make matters worse, they do not recognize these skills in other people.
On the other hand, some people who are competent suffer from imposter syndrome, where they feel as if they are not competent and not responsible for their success. Some days you just can’t win.
What does work is feedback. Here is some reinforcing feedback you might provide to a tester: “I noticed that you spent a lot of time deciding which tests to automate and which tests to explore. That made a difference in our ability to regression test quickly. We can run our regression tests fast, and everyone can run them. Thank you.”
Does it matter who provides that feedback? No. Does that feedback strengthen the team? Yes. Does that feedback reinforce what the tester should do more often? Yes.
Here is some corrective feedback you might provide to a developer: “I’ve noticed that yesterday and today, you checked in code just before you left for lunch. It happens that both days, those check-ins broke the build. You weren’t gone long, but you know we have a policy of no broken builds. Let’s problem-solve together to fix this, OK?”
You’ve addressed this problem before it got big. It’s a two-day problem, not a two-week problem or a two-month problem. It’s certainly not something that has remained on someone’s “file” for the past year.
Feedback Is a Team Problem, Not a Management Problem
Everyone on the team needs to be able to provide feedback to everyone else on the team. Managers can help by teaching how to provide feedback. They can coach people on how to use the words. They can provide an environment in which it’s safe to give and receive feedback. They can work with HR to eliminate the ranking system.
Ranking destroys a team’s ability to work together. Feedback can enhance it. Which would you choose?
Read more of Johanna's management myth columns here:
- The Myth of 100% Utilization
- Only the 'Expert' Can Perform This Work
- We Must Treat Everyone the Same Way
- I Don't Need One-on-ones
- We Must Have an Objective Ranking System
- I Can Save Everyone
- I Am Too Valuable to Take a Vacation
- I Can Still Do Significant Technical Work
- We Have No Time for Training
- I Can Measure the Work by the Time People Spend at Work
- The Team Needs a Cheerleader!
- I Must Promote the Best Technical Person to Be a Manager
- I Must Never Admit My Mistakes
- I Must Always Have a Solution to the Problem
- I Need People to Work Overtime
- I Know How Long the Work Should Take
- I Must Solve the Team’s Problem for Them
- I Can Move People Like Chess Pieces
- Management Doesn’t Look Difficult From the Outside, So It Must Be Easy
- I Can Compare Teams (and It’s Valuable to Do So)
- It’s Always Cheaper to Hire People Where the Wages Are Less Expensive
- If You’re Not Typing, You’re Not Working
- You Can Manage Any Number of People as a Manager
- People Don’t Need External Credit
- Performance Reviews Are Usefult
- It's Fine to Micromanage
- We Can Take Hiring Shortcuts
- I Can Standardize How Other People Work
- I Can Concentrate on the Run
- I Am More Valuable than Other People
- I Don’t Have to Make the Difficult Choices
- I Can Treat People as Interchangeable Resources
- We Need a Quick Fix or a Silver Bullet
- You're Empowered Because I Say You Are