How we run a software company: Setting expectations


4 December 2011, by

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It’s important to communicate clearly what you expect from your employees. What you consider to be their key responsibilities also says a lot about what kind of employer you are.

New starters at Softwire are given a presentation by one of the directors, during which they are told about Softwire, our philosophy, some of our more important procedures, and also what is expected of them. This last part has been distilled into five “Key Responsibilities”:
Maybe more screens would help...

  • Be fully responsible for all your tasks and actions
  • Treat your time like gold dust
  • Take active responsibility for your own personal development
  • Widen your involvement
  • Be happy.

I’ll expand on all of these below:

Be fully responsible for all your tasks and actions

  • That includes all tasks, big or small, and ones which you’ve part-delegated to others.
  • You should aim to do *everything* reasonably within your power to deliver them on time.
  • Tell someone well in advance if you can’t do so.

Treat your time like gold dust

  • Manage your time carefully, maximise productivity, minimise overheads and aim to achieve five productive days per week.
  • Work to specific and quantified goals / deadlines / estimates, or agree some with your manager if you don’t have them.
  • Develop a foolproof system for tracking your tasks and actions and review and reprioritise once every day or so.

Take active responsibility for your own personal development

  • Read around your subject and learn about e.g. good code, software design, etc.
  • Don’t leave it to others to devise your career goals and development plan – consider your aspirations and express them clearly.
  • Tell your manager or a director if you’re not happy with your rate of personal development.

Widen your involvement

  • Don’t restrict your vision to the scope of your immediate remit.
  • Seek ways of taking on more responsibility and becoming more valuable to the company – it’s encouraged!
  • We’d like you to engage enthusiastically and proactively with our goal of making Softwire better, and welcome your ideas and extra-curricular efforts.

Be happy

  • Think of ways to increase your motivation or make your job more enjoyable – and discuss them with your manager.
  • If you are unsatisfied with any aspect of your job, talk to your manager or anyone in your management line that you feel comfortable with.
  • If after doing so you’re still not happy, you are encouraged to chat (informally!) to a director.

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