Click here to close now.




















Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Rob Markovich, Joe Pruitt, SmartBear Blog, Pat Romanski, Greg O'Connor

Related Topics: Agile Computing, Microsoft Cloud, API Journal, Cloud Security

Agile Computing: Blog Post

Snakes and Ladders

How will you manage your staff against the plans you made for 2013?

The only thing you know for certain about the budget, said an old mentor of mine, is that it's wrong.

One way or another, you're going to have issues with the plans you made in November for the year ahead. Not surprising, given that you aimed to somehow foresee the next year's market conditions, predict the performance of your customers and anticipate everything from super storms to the attrition of key personnel.  Then you reconciled this guess work with your shareholders' aspirations - which are seldom modest or undemanding - to produce ‘the plan'.

Beyond the obvious problem - the fact that you have no idea if the reality will render the theory absurd - which you can't waste your time worrying about, you have a major concern that you can and must address: How will the ever present plan, and perceptions of success and failure, affect your staff's actual performance?

Whatever you business, and engineering staffing is a perfectly good example, you have some ladders to take advantage of and a number of snakes to avoid in managing productivity.

Ladder 1 New Year Urgency It's simple. Your well rested staff return to work fired up, full of resolutions and raring to go. Success follows. Happy days.

Snake 1 New Year Attrition Not everybody translates their ‘New year - new start' positivity into hard work for you. January is the biggest month for hiring and job seeking. Right now one of your key staff is planning to make a fresh start of a different kind this year. You are never more vulnerable to turnover among strong performers than you are in January. Have some conversations and make sure you know how your top people are feeling.

 

Ladder 2 Motivation increases from strong start So Q1 has gone great. By and large your staff over performed. The atmosphere is buzzing and there's a great deal of confidence about the year ahead. You can harness this to drive greater productivity. Increase the optimism through the promise of additional rewards. Share some of the results of the over performance, you might see it again in Q2.

Snake 2 Complacency sets in as your staff hit the cruise control button Some will use success to strive for more success, others will use success as a justification for slowing down. Again your answer is in adjusting rewards. You can't use the stick for someone who's overperformed, but you can switch the carrot out for something slightly larger and more juicy. Increase the performance rewards at the highest thresholds and motivate people to excel further.

Ladder 3 Fostering long term development When you're on target, you have the opportunity to invest time and energy in developing your staff. If you know they are going to hit targets, you can spare a little time for training, team building and all the other things that are, conversely, the first casualties when you begin to slip behind. When things are going well this year, give serious consideration to investing a little energy in longer term productivity. If you don't take advantage of successful times to do this, you never will do it.

Snake 3 Entitlement increases from ‘high value / high maintenance' mentality Many a trajectory has begun with early success, followed by plateau and then freefall - induced by the early success itself. A proportion of the people who work with you will take pride in their success over the line and become entitled. I'm contributing all this, I should be getting more. I'm better than they are, I should be treated better. These people need me more than I need them. The worst thing about this reaction to success is that it can inflict collateral damage on other staff. Egotism is a virus and it spreads quickly. If you look to reward high performers early with extra benefits to reach for and investment in their skills, they will feel rewarded in both the short term and long term. Entitlement is never just the result of performance, it is the result of performance combined with a lack of perceived appreciation.

Ladder 4 A definition of minimum acceptable performance is understood and you can manage to it The plan allows you to manage underperformance, because of clearly understood targets that are either met or not met. If they are not met, you have a very clear mandate to chase good performance, or to let people go accordingly. The threat of failure can be a great motivator and if you've got an agreed threshold, there is never any ambiguity. Make sure the staff understand the importance of accomplishing targets and then dig in to the work of helping them get there, even if it means reforecasting to meet external challenges.

Snake 4 Doom, gloom and dismal prospects will never inspire improved performance. If your staff are chasing after a plan so unrealistic as to be entirely unachievable they will not be motivated by it and it might as well not be there. The double threat is that they will hold you responsible for signing off on the budget in the first place. Maybe you were trying to please shareholders; maybe you were just wholly unrealistic. It doesn't matter - there's a massive burden to carry everyday and you gave it to them. Sure, they accepted it, but what other choice did they have? If all your staff have to look forward to is one round of meetings after another where they are asked why they are so far behind the forecast, they will not stick around to endure it; they'll just go somewhere where they can get an even break. And you know that regardless of the plan, they may just be performing better than you honestly expected.

There are many more ladders and many more snakes and I'd be fascinated to hear your own versions. The bottom line is that you're going to play this game whatever happens; your budget will either contribute to success or to failure. Which way it goes is up to you.

More Stories By Richard Spragg

Richard Spragg is currently the Senior VP of Marketing for Talascend. Talascend is a provider of human resources in the engineering, construction, technology and manufacturing industries. Today, Talascend brings its clients the opportunity to fully staff projects from a single source, creating an opening for substantial cost savings and increased efficiency. Richard has 14 years of experience in marketing, engineering and construction, HR & staffing in both the UK and USA. Richard's specialties include marketing, recruitment operations, public realtions and business development. He writes on various subjects including global engineering jobs, staffing and marketing in the technical sector.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems, described how to revolutionize your archit...
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society-changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jason Mondanaro, Director, Product Management at Metanga, discussed how you can plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change the world and it starts with business models and monetization strategies.
The Internet of Everything (IoE) brings together people, process, data and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before – transforming information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom. IoE creates new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented opportunities to improve business and government operations, decision making and mission support capabilities.
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed this very serious issue of profound change in the industry.
Discussions about cloud computing are evolving into discussions about enterprise IT in general. As enterprises increasingly migrate toward their own unique clouds, new issues such as the use of containers and microservices emerge to keep things interesting. In this Power Panel at 16th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the state of cloud computing today, and what enterprise IT professionals need to know about how the latest topics and trends affect their organization.
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
For IoT to grow as quickly as analyst firms’ project, a lot is going to fall on developers to quickly bring applications to market. But the lack of a standard development platform threatens to slow growth and make application development more time consuming and costly, much like we’ve seen in the mobile space. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Weiner, Product Manager of the Omega DevCloud with KORE Telematics Inc., discussed the evolving requirements for developers as IoT matures and conducted a live demonstration of how quickly application development can happen when the need to comply wit...
Converging digital disruptions is creating a major sea change - Cisco calls this the Internet of Everything (IoE). IoE is the network connection of People, Process, Data and Things, fueled by Cloud, Mobile, Social, Analytics and Security, and it represents a $19Trillion value-at-stake over the next 10 years. In her keynote at @ThingsExpo, Manjula Talreja, VP of Cisco Consulting Services, discussed IoE and the enormous opportunities it provides to public and private firms alike. She will share what businesses must do to thrive in the IoE economy, citing examples from several industry sectors.
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Opening Keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, d...
There will be 150 billion connected devices by 2020. New digital businesses have already disrupted value chains across every industry. APIs are at the center of the digital business. You need to understand what assets you have that can be exposed digitally, what their digital value chain is, and how to create an effective business model around that value chain to compete in this economy. No enterprise can be complacent and not engage in the digital economy. Learn how to be the disruptor and not the disruptee.
Akana has released Envision, an enhanced API analytics platform that helps enterprises mine critical insights across their digital eco-systems, understand their customers and partners and offer value-added personalized services. “In today’s digital economy, data-driven insights are proving to be a key differentiator for businesses. Understanding the data that is being tunneled through their APIs and how it can be used to optimize their business and operations is of paramount importance,” said Alistair Farquharson, CTO of Akana.
Business as usual for IT is evolving into a "Make or Buy" decision on a service-by-service conversation with input from the LOBs. How does your organization move forward with cloud? In his general session at 16th Cloud Expo, Paul Maravei, Regional Sales Manager, Hybrid Cloud and Managed Services at Cisco, discusses how Cisco and its partners offer a market-leading portfolio and ecosystem of cloud infrastructure and application services that allow you to uniquely and securely combine cloud business applications and services across multiple cloud delivery models.
The enterprise market will drive IoT device adoption over the next five years. In his session at @ThingsExpo, John Greenough, an analyst at BI Intelligence, division of Business Insider, analyzed how companies will adopt IoT products and the associated cost of adopting those products. John Greenough is the lead analyst covering the Internet of Things for BI Intelligence- Business Insider’s paid research service. Numerous IoT companies have cited his analysis of the IoT. Prior to joining BI Intelligence, he worked analyzing bank technology for Corporate Insight and The Clearing House Payment...
In his keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Rodney Rogers, CEO of Virtustream, discussed the evolution of the company from inception to its recent acquisition by EMC – including personal insights, lessons learned (and some WTF moments) along the way. Learn how Virtustream’s unique approach of combining the economics and elasticity of the consumer cloud model with proper performance, application automation and security into a platform became a breakout success with enterprise customers and a natural fit for the EMC Federation.
"Optimal Design is a technology integration and product development firm that specializes in connecting devices to the cloud," stated Joe Wascow, Co-Founder & CMO of Optimal Design, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CommVault has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. A singular vision – a belief in a better way to address current and future data management needs – guides CommVault in the development of Singular Information Management® solutions for high-performance data protection, universal availability and simplified management of data on complex storage networks. CommVault's exclusive single-platform architecture gives companies unp...
Electric Cloud and Arynga have announced a product integration partnership that will bring Continuous Delivery solutions to the automotive Internet-of-Things (IoT) market. The joint solution will help automotive manufacturers, OEMs and system integrators adopt DevOps automation and Continuous Delivery practices that reduce software build and release cycle times within the complex and specific parameters of embedded and IoT software systems.
"ciqada is a combined platform of hardware modules and server products that lets people take their existing devices or new devices and lets them be accessible over the Internet for their users," noted Geoff Engelstein of ciqada, a division of Mars International, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Internet of Things is moving from being a hype to a reality. Experts estimate that internet connected cars will grow to 152 million, while over 100 million internet connected wireless light bulbs and lamps will be operational by 2020. These and many other intriguing statistics highlight the importance of Internet powered devices and how market penetration is going to multiply many times over in the next few years.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dyn, the worldwide leader in Internet Performance, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dyn is a cloud-based Internet Performance company. Dyn helps companies monitor, control, and optimize online infrastructure for an exceptional end-user experience. Through a world-class network and unrivaled, objective intelligence into Internet conditions, Dyn ensures traffic gets delivered faster, safer, and more reliably than ever.