Questions and Answers from Reddit CSCareerQuestions - An Experiment
A few choice questions from CSCareerQuestions, answered by Dave. Topics include job rescinding, teammate competition, job hunting, performance feedback, and some unfortunate swearing.
As my regular paid readers likely know, I'm on vacation at my parent's place in Wisconsin. Every year for the last 45 years (oh man, I'm getting old) I've come up here for at least a couple of weeks of relaxation and fun. It's great to be able to do this with my kids now.
Since I'm on vacation, I wanted to do something different. I'm not doing a lot of coaching while here (only a few people who had interviews coming up), so I wasn't in my normal frame of mind where I have many writing topics to choose from.
While deciding what to write, I browsed Reddit. I find that Reddit really helps me become more productive.
This is not true. Sarcasm is hard to get across in writing.
However, while aggressively procrastinating, I read some CSCareerQuestions posts, and decided that it'd be fun to respond to a few. Rather than post on Reddit, I decided to use them as the basis for a newsletter.
When answering some questions below, I have some sample text of what I might say in a situation. This is probably obvious, but my tone of voice and method of communicating is likely to be different from yours. I don't recommend the exact words I use, I simply am suggesting a way to approach various situations.
I'm curious to see if this article is more or less useful than my normal ones. If you'd like to see more or fewer articles like this, let me know by responding to this newsletter!
How can I recover a job offer I rejected, or a job I quit?
Context: Someone had a few job offers. They accepted one, rejected the others. A bit later, their new company rescinded their offer. (Link to post)
This isn't uncommon. Particularly in recessions (like we may be entering), people may either lose their new positions, or are sometimes let go months after being hired. The same applies for quitting jobs. People will quit a job, only to boomerang back when their new job doesn't work out.
First, consider how you quit positions or reject offers. You always want to be on your best behavior. Build and maintain great relations with everyone.
"I was very excited to receive your job offer. I enjoyed the interview process, and everyone I met was very friendly. However, after careful consideration, I'm going to accept a different offer. I appreciate the time your team spent on my interview!"
A polite rejection with compliments and clarity make it more likely that the rejected recruiter and hiring manager remembers you with positive feelings.
"I think this team has been great for me. I've learned a lot, and have wonderful co-workers. I didn't have an intention of finding a new position. However, I've received a job offer I can't pass up, and I'm going to take a risk and accept it. I need to resign my position here. I think 3-weeks of transition should be more than enough to ensure the team can take over my responsibilities, but please tell me if this schedule is a concern."
A polite message about resigning, with compliments and a generous and flexible schedule, ensures that you leave your manager with a positive impression.
Now something has changed. You lost your new position. The company removed the offer. They did layoffs 6 weeks into your new job. Argh. Ok, time to see if you can recover.
"I rejected your job offer a few weeks ago due to a competing offer. That company decided to rescind my offer / conducted layoffs, and I find myself in the unfortunate situation of job hunting again. As I mentioned earlier, I was very excited when I received your job offer. I understand if things have changed, but if the opportunity to work at your company is still available, I'd love to talk about it."
A humble recognition that things didn't work out, a reminder that you spoke positively about them before, and a gentle ask to see if the position is still available.
"When I resigned from your team, I knew I was taking a risk on the unknown. Things haven't worked out well at my new position. I enjoyed my time on your team, and would like to talk to you about the possibility of returning."
Remind them of the inherent risk of taking new positions, and that you liked being on their team. Humbly ask if you can return.
I think all of these situations require two major components. Forethought to be polite and respectful when leaving/rejecting a team, and the ability to communicate an honest and humble request when you need to reconsider.
What should I do when my teammate works faster than me?
Context: Someone says their co-worker does their work quickly, but with lower quality. (Link to post)
Everyone works differently. Some people have better communication skills, others write code faster, and yet others focus more on quality.
Your success in your career will come from focusing on your strengths. This might mean that you're usually the fastest worker in your area. It could mean that you're cautious, or great at communicating with leadership.
When I'm building an organization, I want a mix of skills. For every person that hacks things quickly, I want someone who will care about quality. When I have someone focused on the big picture, I need someone to care about the details.
You should not try to compete or compare yourself with someone else in their area of strength. If your co-worker loves to work fast and knock things out, competing with them is pointless if you tend to work slower and more carefully.
However, I've also had people blindly do their thing, without recognition of what the team requires.
I've had people too focused on quality, and they couldn't get work done quickly enough.
I've had people too focused on banging out work, and they repeatedly caused operational events.
I've had people excited to discuss features and obsess about customer experience, but their productivity suffered.
If you observe a co-worker doing something different (productivity, quality, communication, etc), consider it feedback. What should your response to this type of feedback be?
Acknowledge it. Observe what they're doing differently. "They seem to consistently finish their tasks faster."
Decide if it's something you want to react to. Do you think you're working at a good pace? Are you slower than other co-workers? Are you slacking off, or are you applying yourself? Is your co-worker really doing their work fast, or are you slow?
Seek other sources of feedback. Hopefully, your manager or peers can help here. Are they satisfied with how you do your work? Is there feedback that you need to change your behavior in some way?
I received feedback once that I should avoid "being a friend" of the people on my team. I acknowledged it, and decided that I didn't want to listen to that feedback. I didn't have other sources of feedback insisting that I was too friendly, and I decided that I was doing a good job of managing my way.
In other cases, I've managed people who insisted on pointing fingers at their co-workers rather than looking internally.
"Carlton just hacks their stuff up. Haven't you seen how many bugs they have?"
"Yes, but we're talking about you. We wanted a prototype of this feature, something simple. It should have taken a maximum of two days, and you're into your second week now. You need to find a way of getting this work done more quickly."
If you think you're doing work at an acceptable pace, the fact that your co-worker is quick shouldn't matter. Focus more on filling in the gaps they leave, rather than trying to compete. In this case, it might mean that you ensure that issues are assigned to them for the defects they leave behind.