I had my annual assessment today. Nothing came as much of a surprise since my boss and I constantly chat. Due to this I know very accurately where I stand most of the time (not just at the review). My two main points of improvement at this point is documentation and negativity.
My external (not in-code) documentation is pretty poor. This point of improvement is way less important than the next one but is probably far easier to fix. I write in a conversational manner and write for myself as an audience. This results in docs that are confusing for anyone without my exact knowledge set. I want to tackle this in two ways.
First I want to start writing more often. I will never be a great writer but by writing in this blog daily I hope to get a bit better. Reading a bit more should also help this type of improvement. I’m going to try a read a little bit each day as well.
The second way to get better is to focus on documentation a bit more at work. This will actually be very easy to do since I’m now on a team with two great programmers. This is going to allow me to focus on git, documentation and organization a bit more and let the most complicated code work rest on their shoulders. This should work out great for all of us (I hope) and help me improve my documentation a bit.
Next time I have to write docs I’m definitely going to get more reviews on it as well from both people on my team, and random people on my floor. Having someone without insight into my projects review my docs should help a lot.
I’m extremely passionate about a lot of things. I think my boss accurately described me as a fanboy of almost everything I’m interested in which is a very fair assessment. This is often a strength at work due to the fact that I care greatly about all of my projects and help others feel excited as well. Unfortunately it can also cause people to feel my anger when other teams or individuals argue with me, or fail to meet expectations (legitimate or not). When I was an associate engineer (and an engineer at other jobs) this type of negativity goes unnoticed a lot more. It’s not as much of a problem. When I’m in the position of being a core member of a team however it can lead to a spread of negative feelings about people, the project or other teams. Worse than that it can cause people to associate me with that type of negativity.
Fixing this is harder that just practicing documentation. While being hard however, it’s also a pretty simple process. Right now I’m focusing on two aspects. I’m first trying to stay more positive at work in general. When other teams (or individuals) don’t meet expectations the fault can often be deeply routed in many parts of the process that we used to get to that point. It’s an opportunity to fix whatever is failing in this process. A Senior (or Senior II, or Lead) engineer would use this as a good place to start on improving the workplace instead of just vocally complaining. This could result in great strides in my management ability and my influence on where I work which is exciting. I try to stay focused on this instead of the negatives. It’s been working very well so far.
I’m also trying a reactive approach as well. In many situations if I find myself being negative I immediately apologize. This includes apologizing to the bullpen if I get annoyed, and also includes apologizing to individuals if I get short or snap at someone. Immediately apologizing is embarrassing and has done wonders to help train myself NOT to get into that situation again. It’s also (quite frankly) improved my relationship with teams and individuals as well. My boss introduced me to this approach and it’s had a LARGE positive effect.
Those are the main two improvement points that were part of my official review. As well as this I have some work goals to go along with my personal goals for 2014. Here is the full list:
- Improve my documentation by writing more, focusing on documentation and getting more documentation reviews.
- Improve my attitude by looking for ways to improve my workplace and immediately apologizing for behavior that I don’t want to repeat.
- Make sure I’m organized enough to not forget action items. Bullet journal to the rescue.
- Focus on avoiding interruptions during certain tasks. Pomodoro should help with this!
- Focusing on figuring out even more of the bigger picture and getting things done. I’m at the point where I shouldn’t have to rely on my boss for many things at work. Recognizing these things and acting on them is going to be a big focus for me in 2014.
- As always: continue to learn and grow as much as possible. There is a ton for me to learn still about Java, the JVM and Spring as well as technologies that we don’t currently use as work. I feel like this is a strength of mine and therefor I need to keep it up!
- Continue to be passionate about what I do and try to spread the positive aspects of that passion as much as possible