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Managers Firing Line Panel UUASC Panel Discussion December 2006 Lori Barfield, Jack Cate, Dave Close, and Neil Waybright.

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Presentation on theme: "Managers Firing Line Panel UUASC Panel Discussion December 2006 Lori Barfield, Jack Cate, Dave Close, and Neil Waybright."— Presentation transcript:

1 Managers Firing Line Panel UUASC Panel Discussion December 2006 Lori Barfield, Jack Cate, Dave Close, and Neil Waybright

2 Questions From the Audience How do you view employees who work hours day vs. ones who work the standard 8 hour day? How do you view employees who work hours day vs. ones who work the standard 8 hour day? Do you expect employees to put in the extra hours because of the nature of the industry? Do you expect employees to put in the extra hours because of the nature of the industry? What value do you place on technical certifications? What value do you place on technical certifications? How do you look at those with degrees versus those with trade school backgrounds or no education at all, in terms of hiring, salary, and promotions? How do you look at those with degrees versus those with trade school backgrounds or no education at all, in terms of hiring, salary, and promotions? What is the career process to enter into an entry level UNIX position today? What is the career process to enter into an entry level UNIX position today? What are the pitfalls of managing friends? What are the pitfalls of managing friends? About the learning curve of management: Have you ever had a situation where management responsibility overwhelmed you? How did you react? What steps did you take to recover? About the learning curve of management: Have you ever had a situation where management responsibility overwhelmed you? How did you react? What steps did you take to recover? What's the best way to motivate shy, non-motivated, low-level sysadmins? What's the best way to motivate shy, non-motivated, low-level sysadmins?

3 How do you view employees who work hours day vs. ones who work the standard 8 hour day? Neil – long days are sometimes required, but you have to watch out. If the need is continuous and unrewarded, this is a sign of an exploitive employer and you need to be looking at whether you are compensated enough. There are also CA labor law issues. Neil – long days are sometimes required, but you have to watch out. If the need is continuous and unrewarded, this is a sign of an exploitive employer and you need to be looking at whether you are compensated enough. There are also CA labor law issues. Lori – startups may require this just to keep alive so expect it for some roles. It is rarer at larger firms Lori – startups may require this just to keep alive so expect it for some roles. It is rarer at larger firms

4 Long days (continued) Jack Jack Dave Dave

5 Do you expect employees to put in the extra hours because of the nature of the industry? Neil – no. They are sometimes needed for emergencies, but if they are routine it may be a sign of an incompetent or exploitive organization. Either one is a bad sign. Neil – no. They are sometimes needed for emergencies, but if they are routine it may be a sign of an incompetent or exploitive organization. Either one is a bad sign. Lori – yes. We even make it clear to interviewees that a role at our startup involves a professional commitment to a given responsibility, not to a particular work schedule. Engineers who are looking for a predictable work environment wont be happy in a startup situation. But smaller companies like mine tend to be agile and can reward people generously for going above and beyond when its needed by the team. At a well-established company the rewards are often anemic, slow in coming, and only loosely tied to performance. Lori – yes. We even make it clear to interviewees that a role at our startup involves a professional commitment to a given responsibility, not to a particular work schedule. Engineers who are looking for a predictable work environment wont be happy in a startup situation. But smaller companies like mine tend to be agile and can reward people generously for going above and beyond when its needed by the team. At a well-established company the rewards are often anemic, slow in coming, and only loosely tied to performance. Jack Jack

6 Even more extended hours Dave Dave Lori- Good team leads monitor their hard- working reports for burnout, and manage their project loads to accommodate ebb and flow in productivity. Lori- Good team leads monitor their hard- working reports for burnout, and manage their project loads to accommodate ebb and flow in productivity.

7 What value do you place on technical certifications? Neil – very little. Experience of almost any kind is for more important to most of us. Certifications might be a tie-breaker if everything else is even, but the CNE and MCSE factories soured most of us to any value certification might hold. Neil – very little. Experience of almost any kind is for more important to most of us. Certifications might be a tie-breaker if everything else is even, but the CNE and MCSE factories soured most of us to any value certification might hold. Lori- I ask an interviewee what the certification means to him and any value I will ascribe comes out that way. A candidate has many ways to demonstrate personal initiative with technical learning and the ability to persevere once hes set a goal for himself. Lori- I ask an interviewee what the certification means to him and any value I will ascribe comes out that way. A candidate has many ways to demonstrate personal initiative with technical learning and the ability to persevere once hes set a goal for himself. Jack Jack

8 Technical Certifications (continued) Dave Dave

9 How do you look at those with degrees versus those with trade school backgrounds or no education at all, in terms of hiring, salary, and promotions? Neil – in my current role, relevant technical degrees play an important part. They are not viewed the same way as a MCSE cert. We are trying to avoid the cargo-cult sysadmin syndrome where people know of exactly one way to do something, and Neil – in my current role, relevant technical degrees play an important part. They are not viewed the same way as a MCSE cert. We are trying to avoid the cargo-cult sysadmin syndrome where people know of exactly one way to do something, and

10 nothing of why it works that way. College is not a magic bullet though that lets stupid people through, and keeps great people out at most places. It is usually far less important than experience and past performance as one grows more senior. nothing of why it works that way. College is not a magic bullet though that lets stupid people through, and keeps great people out at most places. It is usually far less important than experience and past performance as one grows more senior. Lori- I respect a tough degree from a tough school. But my organization needs more than people who have resumes that look like they should be able to do the job, so regardless of education, the highest offers go to those who have done it before and are bringing in solutions. The highest raises and new opportunities also go to those who contribute the best, without preference to those who attended college long before they joined us. Once youre here, though, your parents are going to love it…because were going to encourage you to keep pursuing your education. Lori- I respect a tough degree from a tough school. But my organization needs more than people who have resumes that look like they should be able to do the job, so regardless of education, the highest offers go to those who have done it before and are bringing in solutions. The highest raises and new opportunities also go to those who contribute the best, without preference to those who attended college long before they joined us. Once youre here, though, your parents are going to love it…because were going to encourage you to keep pursuing your education. Jack Jack Dave Dave

11 Lori- I do find degrees from places like the University of Phoenix a turnoff. Its not because I dont like the schools, I bet they actually have very good instructors who are currently out in their industries making contributions. But those institutions seem to appeal to students who want to punch a career ticket with as little effort as possible. Lori- I do find degrees from places like the University of Phoenix a turnoff. Its not because I dont like the schools, I bet they actually have very good instructors who are currently out in their industries making contributions. But those institutions seem to appeal to students who want to punch a career ticket with as little effort as possible.

12 What is the career process to enter into an entry level UNIX position today? Neil – three paths (for Sysadmins) are the ones I usually see: Neil – three paths (for Sysadmins) are the ones I usually see: Get recruited out of college (my current employer does this a lot) Get recruited out of college (my current employer does this a lot) Move up from a less technical role (desktop support, etc.) into server ops Move up from a less technical role (desktop support, etc.) into server ops Learn on your own, volunteer to get noticed, start consulting, then move into industry Learn on your own, volunteer to get noticed, start consulting, then move into industry

13 Breaking In (continued) Lori- if you need to establish yourself there are plenty of opportunities to contribute to respected open source projects Lori- if you need to establish yourself there are plenty of opportunities to contribute to respected open source projects Dave Dave Jack Jack

14 What are the pitfalls of managing friends? Neil – The appearance of favoritism is hard to shake. I dont mix work and socializing. I spend time with subordinates in recognizable socializing behavior only outside of work. I am friendly, but no more to any one than the others. Neil – The appearance of favoritism is hard to shake. I dont mix work and socializing. I spend time with subordinates in recognizable socializing behavior only outside of work. I am friendly, but no more to any one than the others. Lori- I love the people I work with but I cant forget that Im paid to make sure work gets done and careers are managed well. Having to wear a leadership hat around your friends isnt a pitfall….but it should come naturally to you or you should consider staying in a technical role. Lori- I love the people I work with but I cant forget that Im paid to make sure work gets done and careers are managed well. Having to wear a leadership hat around your friends isnt a pitfall….but it should come naturally to you or you should consider staying in a technical role. Jack Jack

15 Socializing with Subordinates (continued) Dave Dave

16 About the learning curve of management: Have you ever had a situation where management responsibility overwhelmed you? How did you react? What steps did you take to recover? Neil – of course I have felt overwhelmed. I have gone to my managers, peers, and others outside the organization looking for ideas. Neil – of course I have felt overwhelmed. I have gone to my managers, peers, and others outside the organization looking for ideas.

17 Ever Overwhelmed? (continued) (Neil continued) I have also taken management training at work and pursued a MBA in my own time to get better at it. (Neil continued) I have also taken management training at work and pursued a MBA in my own time to get better at it. Lori- When you are in a managerial situation bigger than one person can handle, you need to develop an SIC: a Second-In-Command. Teams with a strong SIC are usually the most harmonious and the shared leadership efforts scale up well as a team grows. To use a family analogy, the team leader is like a parent; the SIC is like the oldest brother and is the next in succession. Lori- When you are in a managerial situation bigger than one person can handle, you need to develop an SIC: a Second-In-Command. Teams with a strong SIC are usually the most harmonious and the shared leadership efforts scale up well as a team grows. To use a family analogy, the team leader is like a parent; the SIC is like the oldest brother and is the next in succession. Jack Jack Dave Dave

18 What's the best way to motivate shy, non-motivated, low-level sysadmins? This is a question we didnt get to address during the talk. The responses now are added after-the-fact This is a question we didnt get to address during the talk. The responses now are added after-the-fact Neil – I am not sure what kind of folks this really refers to, but motivation is complex. I am not a trained mental health professional and wont play amateur psychologist. If the persons work is poor I would try and provide Neil – I am not sure what kind of folks this really refers to, but motivation is complex. I am not a trained mental health professional and wont play amateur psychologist. If the persons work is poor I would try and provide

19 Motivation (continued) (Neil continued) them usable behavioral feedback, letting them know what I see them doing that is not up to expectations and see if they need help to get back on track. By my natural I like to complement people on notable good work in their 1:1 meetings every other week to help them remember that their good work is noticed and valued. Motivation comes from inside, but we can help someone find it within themselves. (Neil continued) them usable behavioral feedback, letting them know what I see them doing that is not up to expectations and see if they need help to get back on track. By my natural I like to complement people on notable good work in their 1:1 meetings every other week to help them remember that their good work is noticed and valued. Motivation comes from inside, but we can help someone find it within themselves.

20 Lori- sysadmin work is not for everyone. You can force an engineer to do user support and handle unplanned outages, but that doesnt mean he is fit for it. If youve got an SA who cant handle interruptions, pressure, or the unknown, try pushing him into back-end tasks like scripting and documentation. Find projects that will give him the chance to contribute by supporting the front line team members. Lori- sysadmin work is not for everyone. You can force an engineer to do user support and handle unplanned outages, but that doesnt mean he is fit for it. If youve got an SA who cant handle interruptions, pressure, or the unknown, try pushing him into back-end tasks like scripting and documentation. Find projects that will give him the chance to contribute by supporting the front line team members. Dave Dave Jack Jack


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