Posts Tagged ‘management’
What about it?
Whilst having discussions on a ‘thinkers’ board that I infrequently-frequently visit, someone mentioned the Dunning-Kruger effect in relation to specific politicians.
So I looked it up and something started to dawn on me.
Of late I have seen quite a number of companies adapting the ‘Google method’ of peer assessment when it comes to hiring new personnel, but for some reason those companies were having rather a decline in technical competence instead of getting the increased benefit of adding more ‘brainpower’.
As I understand it, and as related to my own observations in the peer assessments, the problem lies here in points 2 and 3 of the hypothesis put forth by Kruger and Dunning:
2) Fail to recognize genuine skill in others;
Oftentimes the higher skilled candidate is being dismissed because “he talks about weird things and can’t communicate properly” or variations thereof.
Now what I have seen Human Resources do is not recognizing this problem but rather projecting a form of ‘insecurity’ on the assessing employee ‘He may be afraid of his position’, whereupon they start complementing and ‘securing’ the assessing employee. It would go too far too add Pavlovian conditioning to this story, but it may not be too far from it.
3) Fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy;
Dunning has drawn an analogy to someone having an impairment, but I think a much clearer and less insulting explanation can be given by the concepts of Flatland (when read without the Victorian context, that is).
What does that mean for the business?
As for the origin of the inadeqacies, I leave that for the respective physicians and psychologists, but there are a few common mistakes companies make that help in attenuating this effect within their ranks.
- The HR departments are not sitting at the table when the peer assessments take place
This has the effect of ‘ganging up’ on a potential candidate; remember that the assessing employees will subconsciously defend their comfort zone, so no fresh blood that dares to challenge even the group of ‘old hands’ will ever be given a good mark.
And in technology, zealotism is stronger than in religion. Mention the wrong editor somewhere and you are classed ‘unqualified’. Mention that you do not have a fascist adherence to Linux/MacOS/Windows/Anythingatall and you are classed ‘incompetent’.
The way to remedy this is to have a properly prepared (as in read up, albeit cursorily, on the subject matter) HR staff sit at the table and support the candidate in matters of confidence and to ‘call off the hounds’ when needed. Also, the HR staff should ask questions like ‘why is this editor thing important in our company?’ so as to prevent the technology policies becoming the pre-conditions for a personal playground of the techs.
- Sitting personnel has gotten to the position on merits of ‘employment years’ and ‘being there first’ or ‘helping to set it up’
Often, because ‘in the land of the blind, one-eye is king’, a manager or ‘chief’ of a technical department is someone that has been a long time in a company. This is a tradition that stems from the old ‘Foreman’ habit; a senior gets to lead his peers because he knows very well what the work entails and he knows the peers very well.
But in ICT, I really have to say this, a lot of technically competent people have problems when interacting with the rest of the world. I will even go so far as to say that some of these people are in ICT because of their Rainman-like qualities; they simply are prone to defend against anything that threatens the world they have created in their own mind.
This can be remedied by not giving them decision powers. They should have all the execution powers, or put differently; they should be allowed to decide on ‘how’ to do things, but never ‘what’ to do.
Here then comes a gray area; it is sometimes hard to see when it is a ‘how’ and when it is a ‘what’. But there’s a good rule of thumb for it (this is just a marker, not a hard fact): if it involves anyone outside of the inhouse technical crew, treat it as a ‘what’. All activities done by that technical crew can be treated as ‘how’.
Obviously it never is going to be that simple, but think of this as having a race-horse pulling a gurney; the horse pretty well knows how to run by itself and given practice it even knows how to turn etc. But because the jockey has more information (i.e. the strategy, the strength and endurance of the competition) and has the ability to make judgements on that information (i.e. if the others are conserving energy, if the other horses are at their peak, when to fully go all-out) it must always be the jockey who is in control.
The horse can do things the jockey can not, but the jockey can do things the horse can not. And if the horse decides that it knows the course better than the jockey, the race will be lost most of the time.
The horse does not see it’s inadequacy in decision making, because it can outrun that little jockey even on a bad day…
And now what?
Read more articles on Human Resources…
Well, just because they know more about technology and about the work they do, that does not mean they know more about healthy and proper assessment procedures.
When assessing new personnel, have the tech department set up a kind of exam with a scoring method. That way they can ask anything they want and open questions can be scored ‘double blind’ if wanted (although simply anonymous is usually good enough).
This test can then be sent to an outside consultant or other tech company to verify both the validity of questions and the standard answers.
You can have candidates (give them fair warning though that you are going to do this) take this test and have it objectively scored. This makes for an up-to-date questioning and it also gives the candidate the possibility to defend his/her answers against the scoring because it can be done fully in writing. Sometimes that will yield that the candidate is overqualified for a certain setting. But that leaves the candidates dignity in place and gives the tech department a chance to work on themselves.
The HR staff can assess the social qualities and all other properties after a candidate has gotten through the test.
I sometimes hear that ‘it is hard getting good personnel’, but I do not think so. I think it is hard breaking down the little kingdoms that have come to be and that in an open and social world, there really should be no place for them anymore.
This article is a guest written article, and was originally posted here.
A day ago I read PHP: A fractal of bad design, and it made me sit down and think about writing this entry, of which the kernel has been gestating for quite a long time.
I see this a lot; pro’s ranting about an aspect of our ‘craft’ that has gone totally pear-shaped; programmers complaining about the languages or the quality of code they are asked to fix and/or maintain, systems administrators that just can not believe the insanity that is brought down on them because of either laziness of the in-house personnel or management-made bylaws.
Cryptographic specialists (even mildly spoken ones like Bruce Schneier), hackers nee security specialists, software designers… the whole palette of people that actually are proficient in their work gripe and complain.
I had a fantastic early evening (7-8pm) at the Foundation Laluz. Laluz is a foundation that organizes resources and recruitment of volunteers for charity organizations. And I was there to pitched two things:
- a free “timeshare” on an enterprise system which handles project, resource, financial and profile management for enterprise size customers as SaaS or install-based. In my and Gartner’s opinion, this far exceeds the possibilities and options of the sponsored system they use. (Gartner places it in the top-right of the Magic Quadrant, above all the other products.) I wanted to use Laluz as our testcase for taking a COTS enterprise system and make it available as a SME, in other words they would use an enterprise level product and our return would be feedback. This was the first time I was “selling” the platform, and I failed even to give it away.
- DWC (me) as a Social Media and Social/Business Networking Coach. I often explain that I am NOT a marketeer and do NOT give marketing advise, and I am often asked to give generalized marketing advise as it relates to SM and SM projects. Sometimes the projects are: “SO TOO EVIL” that I give simple advise and try to extricate myself as quickly as possible. IOW get the fuck out of the building before I lynch myself. I’m very happy that wasn’t the case with Laluz.
Fun times today!
- Sadly I can’t tell you what enterprise system I’m talking about, nor can I speak too much about the SME solution which is currently in development, as this is a charity case which the enterprise company doesn’t want to promote, for fear of getting too many requests.
- Again I can’t comment, but I will contact them and see how I can help them.
- Gartner Magic Quadrant (wikipedia)
In the company I work for they are introducing the Agile FrameWork, in the form of SCRUM and XP. I’ve worked with Agile before, mostly as a contractor – with a heavy Prince2 background – to companies not assigned directly to a team or in a small team using the SCRUM framework as a loose guideline. So besides from cursory reading of documentation I have rarely had anything to do with the way a SCRUM team is managed. In this company I was asked to perform the task of SCRUM Master, so I started reading up on the role and requirements.
To aid me in this I just finished reading Scrum and XP from the Trenches (How we do Scrum) by Henrik Kniberg, which is an examination of the methodology and framework of SCRUM from an implementation view, based on examples. I found it extremely enlightening and funny to read, I think it helps that he is honest in what has worked for him and his team, and
“[i]t is this … focus on doing rather than theorizing that distinguishes this book.”
An enlightening read.
Image source: Jerry Wong
The blue is all Internet, the brown Utilities and the purple is Office. It’s funny to see the last 6 weeks reduced to a simple graph, yet it is quite accurate in the depiction of my time. Most of my work does consist of using Internet for research and Utilities such as putty for my development work. The Pareto principle holds for this graph too, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.
As I was writing this I had a look at the Time Management presentation I put online last week and I saw that this data could also be used to assure yourself that you are meeting your targets. However this is all after the fact, where as with most of the Time Management techniques it is important to be able to change your actions while you are in the flow.
In my experience, and that of many others, evaluating the Time Management Journal takes some time to master. And in all honesty that is not where most can be won. The Time Management Success Journal is the place where most can be won, it should produce a graph similar to the one above. Obviously this would be tailored to the specific categories that were chosen.
SO how are you getting