How we run a software company: Monitoring employee progress
26 January 2012, by Chris Harris
It is essential for any company to be aware of how each of their employees is getting on. Fail to spot and reward good work and you’ll have disaffected and un-incentivised employees. Fail to spot and correct poor work and you’ll fall some way short of 100% productivity.
It’s the nature of a Software house that employees will change teams often, with project lifetimes usually falling between one month and one year. This presents a challenge for monitoring progress, but also an opportunity.
At Softwire we recognise the importance of having some consistency in your management line, but we also consider it imperative that you’re looked after by someone who’s working with you on a day-to-day basis. That’s why everyone here has two managers: a Line Manager (LM) and a Task Manager (TM).
Your LM is assigned to you from day one and may well stay with you for your whole time at Softwire. It is best to consider your LM as an adviser – someone who is there to ensure that you’re putting enough time and effort into personal development, that you’re getting the training you need to work towards your career goals, and that there’s nothing about your job that’s making you unhappy.
Your TM will in most cases be the person in charge of the project you’re working on. At the start of the project all three of you will agree on your training goals for that project, and the TM will be responsible for monitoring how you’re doing against those goals. You’ll generally have a “status chat” with your TM every week, where you can discuss how well you’re doing, what went well and what you could be doing better.
This constant feedback and discussion is important, and is backed up by an appraisal at the end of each project, where the TM rates your contribution to the project on a number of key metrics. These ratings are fed directly into your bonus calculations and so are taken pretty seriously!
Most people will have a number of different TMs over the course of a year, which enables them to get a variety of perspectives on how they’re doing and how they can improve. At the same time, they’ll always have a friendly face to turn to in the form of their LM.
Within this framework there are a number of processes in place to ensure that we do everything we can to reward good work and increase personal development – I’ll cover these in later posts.