Supportive Working Environment

I had my performance review today, and it went really well. I’m a senior developer at the place I work and I had rated myself around the “meets expectations” to “exceeds expectations.” Actually, me being me, I made up my own definition of my capabilities for each. Naturally. I didn’t rate myself at higher then exceeds expectation because, how can you exceed expectation when you’re supposed to be one of the best in the company? I did for one actually - my breadth and depth of knowledge and work I do outside my job role. While I’m a software developer, I also help with systems administration, front-end design, requirements analysis and occasionally even open up Photoshop!

My manager, who was a developer when I first started 3.5 years ago, knows my view on career progression (I don’t want a career), doesn’t judge my views, and support my position. The feedback was all positive, with me performing better than I had rated myself, overall. There were some points I could improve on, and they were pretty much exclusively with managing the expectations of others in the company.

That’s not to say they have outrageous expectations, but some people wonder why I leave at 5 every day (I still work 8 hours a day, within core hours, but they might not perceive that). They wonder why I don’t give constant feedback on the status of my work. They don’t ask, they see and perceive. I know only too well that perception is reality, so please understand that I’m not judging my colleagues for this; I simply recognise the situation and have an opportunity, if I wish to take it, to address it. I don’t have to.

I’ve made inroads on this already. There’s one person at work, for example, who used to become frustrated that I didn’t let her know how I was going often enough. Conversely I used to become frustrated that she’d contact me in four ways using different media in order to tell me one thing that I considered low priority. The fact is she is a Gen Y, I’m a Gen X. We’re both borderline, but carry our traits pretty well. While she has grown up in an always connected environment where everyone knows everything, I grew up in an environment where instant feedback wasn’t always available and I worked through things slowly myself. She has an innate expectation of constant feedback and feels I don’t give her enough; but in keeping me updated overwhelms me. I have an innate expectation that people will do what they’re allocated and flag issues if they arise and she gives me too much information; but in not keeping her updated she feels like she’s losing visibility over the project.

This is a very simple fix. She and I have spoken about our needs on many occasions, in a very friendly, informal atmosphere, often joking at how different our needs and expectations are. She now keeps the non-urgent communications to just one medium and I try to keep her informed of my status as often as possible. Communication: it’s good for you.

So as I’ve already been guided to observe my interactions with others, from my manager, from self realisation in discussions with Jo or through reading books, or just because a light bulb comes on while I’m clipping my toenails, many of the areas for improvement are already well under way to being addressed.

While I have my issues with politics in this organisation, I still maintain that the people are awesome and supportive. Sometimes the collective can miss the mark by a few thousand kilometres, but with few exceptions, I don’t believe anyone there actually intends to do harm. It’s a matter of seeing the wood for the trees, that’s all.

Now assuming I’m happy with my new position description (should be fine) I’m just waiting to hear back on my cost of living increase since 2007…

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