One of the joys of putting content out into the universe is the feedback we’ve gotten, both positive and critical. The latter, in particular, has been useful in refining our ideas. Herein lies some notes and errata - things we got wrong or not quite right.
Our post about sticking-around at companies was the first to elicit a strong “fuck you” response. And in some ways, fair enough. Given the nuance of the topics, the article wasn’t fleshed out enough.
The main hypotheses of that post were:
- Don’t change roles because you’re bored
- Job hopping/role changing isn’t a way to optimize skills
Upon further reflection, those ideas are kind of meh. Here’s some more clear-headed thoughts that I’m confident are true:
- Most next-level skills come from doing things for a long time. Architecture, project management, strategic business decisions - these are only understood in retrospect, after many years. If you don’t stay at any company longer than a couple years, you miss out on these learnings.
- Early in one’s career, you don’t know what you don’t know. Try new stuff. Hop jobs. But, if you make an entire career out of 2 year stints, you’re not optimizing anything.
- There’s a wealth management adage - you get rich by concentrating and stay rich by diversifying. You can get rich in software by constant job hopping, but those bumps are short sighted. The most life changing money happens when you’re on a rocketship for many years.
This post outlined ways to be less divisive. I dropped a little nugget at the end “Miscellaneous: joke less, laugh less, stop gossiping.”
Boy did people hate that.
And as it would happen, my co-author, the other half of StaySaasy, disagreed with the sentiment before publishing.
In particular, the phrase “laugh less” elicited a response that made some people want to send me on the next bus to Pluto (not even a full planet).
I think I probably dropped that there knowing it’d be controversial.
It gets the people going kind of thing. But I do want to clarify:
- Joking and laughing are very often divisive. Many jokes are at others’ expense and most people don’t have a great calibration on which ones are unambiguously fine and which are divisive. Even just not being in on a boring joke can be divisive.
- That said, most acts of human personality can be divisive, so in some ways, divisiveness can be turned up or down via having more personality, humor, moxy, whatever.
- There was an underlying, implicit statement in that piece, which is assuming you want to be less divisive. If you’re finding that your company is divisive, is not inclusive enough, or has too much of a monoculture, then IMO the advice stands: joke and laugh less. If your culture is too inert, you might benefit from some laughs, even at the risk of making some people feel like they’re not in on the joke.
It takes roughly 2 weeks to form a habit; it takes roughly two weeks to get comfortable in a new environment. A common mistake is to treat a new report’s first couple weeks like college orientation - social, light hearted, get-to-know-you stuff. If your report spends the first two weeks reading C# documentation and having lunch out on the town with the team, guess what, they’ve just normalized that behavior as what the role is.
Humans are not dogs. I've worked at companies with both styles of on-boarding (two weeks of doing nothing vs jumping right in). The output in a month was realistically no different.
I don’t know why, but this interpretation really ruffled my feathers. Is this advice really treating people like dogs?
I think, ultimately, this feedback struck me because it’s at the absolute core of what it means to be a manager - you have to learn what things work for most people, what things work for certain kinds of people, what things work for no people. You have to decide when to treat everyone the same and when to be bespoke. You have to build models and tear them down, make rules and immediately break them. You have to find a way to do what you think is best for people without patronizing them.