“Our team used to go fast when it was small. Now we have ten times as many people and less work gets done. What happened?!”

Short answer:

Your workstream is controlled by people whose job it is to ship more features, and your software engineers think their job is to write code.

Long answer:

It’s complicated and of course there’s no magic bullet to make everything go fast again, otherwise you would have already done it by now.

Below are five reasons I’ve seen time and time again, though. …


Of all the things you can do for your team, the one-on-one catchup is the most important. Bin all your other meetings, but keep these ones!

In this article, I’ll cover why we do catchups, present a template for running your own catchups with some sample questions, and give some practical advice around when, where and how to run them. Finally, I’ve shared some real-life examples of catchups I’ve had.

Goals

The primary goal of a catchup is to build and strengthen individual relationships with your reports. Let that goal filter everything that you do in the catchup. A person’s experience…


Talking with other leaders, I often find a confusion about what “diversity” in hiring means and why it’s worth caring about.

This is my attempt to explain what I’ve learned.

What does diversity mean, in this context?

Diversity is sometimes used as a keyword for “equal numbers of women and men”, but that’s a very narrow definition and misses the point of what you’re trying to achieve.

To be clear, I refer it to as diversity of approach. You’re after a team with a wide variety of different backgrounds and experiences: people of different ages, nationalities, cultural backgrounds, religions, identities, and yes, of different genders.

Why hire for diversity?

I can…


You’ve been coding for a few years now.

You feel competent at your preferred languages. You’re not making too many silly mistakes, and although you’re learning a bit every now and then from articles you read and teammates, you’re not feeling the passion for coding that you once did.

The shine has disappeared. You’re stuck, and you don’t know where to go to next.

It’s OK. We all go through this.

Learning the fundamentals of computer programming is a mammoth task, and you’ve reached the first plateau in your journey. Congratulations on making it!

The good news is that there are many more exciting adventures ahead of…


Junior Developer. Senior Engineer.

It’s funny that we use these terms, usually reserved for age, to refer to the level of responsibility and pay given to a software developer.

But clearly, age isn’t what we’re measuring. There are 24-year-olds who have packed in enough experience to be classified as “senior”. There are 40-year-olds who I would only employ in a “junior” role: they’ve had one year of experience 20 times, and one not particularly relevant experience to the role I’m advertising either.

What’s more, in an effort to make people feel appreciated, average developers with three years’ experience are being…


You’ve been coding a couple of years, and in your first commercial job you’re introduced to automated tests.

The experienced devs are saying they’re a crucial part of writing software. But you don’t see why you should use them. They’re time consuming to write, and hard to write well. It’s way faster just to poke the user interface and see whether it does what you expect.

You’re absolutely right. Automated tests are an awful way to test something you’ve just written.

But that’s not what automated tests are for.

What the experienced devs know is that most of coding time on a big project is spent in maintenance…


Learning to code is a lifelong endeavour. Around every corner, you find more to learn that you didn’t know existed.

I talk to a lot of compsci students, and many of them are under the impression that they learn to code at university, and then just go apply that knowledge in their career. Maybe they’ll learn some “business stuff” along the way. Professional coders will know that you’re barely at the start of your journey on graduation day.

After a conversation with @PrototypeAlex where we discussed the many stages we have seen developers at, I felt inspired to write them…


In Wellington, New Zealand, the majority of developer salaries I’ve seen range from $50,000 to $140,000. It’s a huge range, and humans—also known as management—make the decision about how much they’re going to pay you solely based upon spending an hour or two with you.

Salary isn’t the only thing that you care about when you’re choosing where you want to work, but let’s assume you’ve found a fantastic gig. How do you maximise your salary?

Step 1: ask your peers what they’re on

Every culture is different, but most are secretive when it comes to salaries. …


Ask many people to explain what a great work culture looks like, and they’ll look at you as if to say “you know… a great culture!” And then they might talk about beers on a Friday, the coffee machine, or flexitime.

I had the pleasure of helping grow a delivery team — initially a group of 16 developers, imported from a services company — to a team of 50 developers with its own strong identity, widely known for being a great place to work. Here’s what I learned about culture over that time.

What is culture, then?

A culture is a set of acceptable…


Your goal, as an interviewer, is to find out whether a candidate will provide more value to your company than what you will pay them. This “value” is not only their current skills, but among other things, how well they complement your team culture and how well they can learn new skills.

In this article, I hope to convince you that your current technical test process is likely too narrow-focused, and you’re missing crucial information about your candidates because of it. …

Roger Nesbitt

Leading technology teams

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