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How to Keep the People You Need
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How to Keep the People You Need

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http://pete.io/Hiw9 …

http://pete.io/Hiw9

You can watch this talk here: http://vimeo.com/65544302

How to retain your hardest to hire positions (DevOps, System Automation, Release Engineering)

Abstract: We all talk about how to recruit and hire DevOps minded people, but something we don't often talk about is how to manage and retain them once you have hired them. There are lots of studies and statistics that discuss how expensive it is when you lose an employee. Often times the business side believes the only way to keep employees is via monetary compensation, and this is a terrible way to motivate. I have found that motivating thru autonomy and purpose can yield a much higher benefit to all parties. Most important to Startups as they often are more cash constrained and need to compete with more profitable and established companies.

The Theory of Constraints states that an hour lost at a bottleneck essentially shuts down your organization. What happens when your constrained group (most likely your evolving operations team) loses a highly valued engineer? In this presentation, I want to discuss some of the techniques that were helpful for me when trying to keep my team motivated, when the world was coming down on our heads. Techniques found within process and culture changes such as Agile and DevOps, collaboration and cross functional teams, help everyone to feel as though they are part of something greater than themselves.

My talk will expand and focus on the specifics of what has worked for me, and hopefully provide enough options that most any company could cherry-pick and start using within their organization. With the ultimate focus of keeping people happy and productive members of your team.

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  • I love these events that allow us to talk about and share our experiences with one another. By doing so we are furthering the growth and development of all our teams. I'm here today to talk with you about a topic that I'm very happy to share my experiences with.
  • I want everyone across the engineering team to truly love what they do. To be passionate about new technologies they want to learn and problems they are able to solve.
  • I want everyone across the engineering team to truly love what they do. To be passionate about new technologies they want to learn and problems they are able to solve.
  • I want everyone across the engineering team to truly love what they do. To be passionate about new technologies they want to learn and problems they are able to solve.
  • I want everyone across the engineering team to truly love what they do. To be passionate about new technologies they want to learn and problems they are able to solve.
  • I want everyone across the engineering team to truly love what they do. To be passionate about new technologies they want to learn and problems they are able to solve.
  • I'm probably going to make some broad generalizations. Not everyone is the same, but some of the topics I'm going to discuss are some of the ones I've seen or experienced in my career.If the company isn't growing, people are probably not growing in their careers and that is likely going to leave for new challenges.
  • Over the past 13 years I've worked for many companies you have probably never heard of. When you work for a company with little name recognition – it’s hard to recruit. Hard to get people to change jobs.
  • So often times we hire junior people, or people with some (but not all) of the background/experience we need. We train them up, and that makes it hurt even more when we can't keep them.
  • I am passionate about this topic for a couple of main reasons. One: (Selfishly) When people leave it's normally difficult to replace them. Outside the difficulty, it's painfully time consuming, and even more painful when you realize that you can probably avoid it.
  • When they do leave I believe that I have failed them somehow. Sometimes, things just don't work out. Someone wants to switch their focus, don’t quite click with the culture The reality is that I should take it personally. As a manager I have two top priorities, Employee Recruitment and Employee Retention.So many things you do day-to-day affect retention.
  • I'm not going to ask the "obligatory", How many people are hiring right now because I already know it's all of youBUT! How many people here are actively recruiting new employees? Spending their time reviewing resumes, searching for candidates and interviewing?That shit sucks.It can be a time-suck.
  • Let’s break this out. Lets say you find the perfect new hire.But the challenge happens when you spend all your time and energy building a team, losing them can be a real hit to the organization. What does that mean to your team & the business when that happens----- Meeting Notes (4/30/13 07:31) -----
  • They’ll dive into the Theory of Constraints and identifying bottlenecks in your organization. What you’ll probably find. At least in my case is that Operations is the most likely bottleneck.
  • Think about a factory producing parts.The bottleneck machine goes down – the entire line stops.Operations is not that different.Brent is one of the early bottlenecks in the bookIn operations you are the keymasters – often have the most control of an Org
  • You are the keymastersThey control so much of the day to day, and can act as gatekeepers between engineering, QA, support, etc. So when you lose someone there, it can cause massive ripple effects to your organization.
  • That’s going to cause a snowball effect to occurDays get longer trying to keep up.
  • Companies are not taking a more proactive approach towards employee retention. Only when the employee has already given their notice do they try to keep them, but really at that point it's often too late.
  • First thing people mention.“well, if they just paid me more I'd be OK”I can see why some companies want to do that - they want the employees to be loyal. But there are other things that have a greater impact than $$. When you do that – focus on the task at handThat would be the amount of shit you would put up with in order to get a certain pay. Most people have a number. And as long as the ratio is met, you'll likely stay where you are at. Or if another company meets that ratio, you'll probably leave. Money is a terrible motivator. There are many studies out there that has already shown this. And I'm sure for anyone listening to this talk can agree. It's only a short term fix.
  • First thing people mention.“well, if they just paid me more I'd be OK”I can see why some companies want to do that - they want the employees to be loyal. But there are other things that have a greater impact than $$. When you do that – focus on the task at handSTPR – Shit to pay ratioThat would be the amount of shit you would put up with in order to get a certain pay. Most people have a number. And as long as the ratio is met, you'll likely stay where you are at. Or if another company meets that ratio, you'll probably leave. Money is a terrible motivator. There are many studies out there that has already shown this. And I'm sure for anyone listening to this talk can agree. It's only a short term fix.
  • Also did a Ted Talk in2009 about this same topic.I’m going to dive more into these. http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pink_on_motivation.html
  • You have adults working for you, talk about the projects, the requirements, who wants to do them. I rarely had an issue where no one wanted to take a project. Most often people were excited to solve a new problem.Your team will probably have a better idea of projects and solutions
  • But they’re going to work on whatever?Give people the support they need to be successful. My team would often drive the new features that we were working on.Often times we would have new projects that would come up, and as a manager, align. Novel way of solving.Used one on one time and standups to chat about some up and coming projects to see who wanted to work on them. Limiting context switching
  • Giving people the ability and the time to become expertsis very powerful. Giving people the freedom to become experts. Making sure they are not being pidgeon holed into doing the same thing every day.
  • People want their code to be valuable, in use. Solving a problem.Writing code that will never be used can be demoralizing.People want feedback on their code.
  • Nagios was not flexible enough to keep up with our ever changing cloud infrastructure. And for some reason Nagios would alert all silenced checkes everyday at 7pm. At 7:02 I would get an angry skype message from whichever of the developers that were on call and got the alert.
  • Nagios was not flexible enough to keep up with our ever changing cloud infrastructure. And for some reason Nagios would alert all silenced checkes everyday at 7pm. At 7:02 I would get an angry skype message from whichever of the developers that were on call and got the alert.
  • One of my Team Members (Sean Porter) had an idea. He was really excited about his idea and I sent him off for a week to build a POC. During that time I stepped in and helped pick up the slack where I could. He was on to something – his excitement sold me.Worked with CEO to approve opensourceIt all comes back to recruitment/retainment – it got easierWe then gave Sean 20% of his time to manage the open source project.
  • One of my Team Members (Sean Porter) had an idea. He was really excited about his idea and I sent him off for a week to build a POC. During that time I stepped in and helped pick up the slack where I could. He was on to something – his excitement sold me.Worked with CEO to approve opensourceIt all comes back to recruitment/retainment – it got easierWe then gave Sean 20% of his time to manage the open source project.
  • Most people want to grow in their careers. They want to feel like they are working on something greater than just themselves. I think opensource projects are a great way to do that. It doesn't cost you anything, and the benefits to your company are huge. After Sensu started gaining traction, recruiting people became easier.
  • Some love them, some hate them. I am honestly on the fence. Work life balance.While at ChefConf I heard that Yahoo will give people two months off every 5 years. That's the right direction. What about every 3 years (startups are hard). What about every 2 years? Maybe they go take vacation, maybe they go and work on an opensource project?
  • Some love them, some hate them. I am honestly on the fence. Work life balance.While at ChefConf I heard that Yahoo will give people two months off every 5 years. That's the right direction. What about every 3 years (startups are hard). What about every 2 years? Maybe they go take vacation, maybe they go and work on an opensource project?
  • When you have daily standups, you probably will be aware of what things people are working on and what is blocking them. There is just no excuse for not offering that flexibility anymore. There are a couple tools that can help
  • When you have daily standups, you probably will be aware of what things people are working on and what is blocking them. There is just no excuse for not offering that flexibility anymore. There are a couple tools that can help
  • *Conferences*Conferences are important. The ROI may be hard to quantify, but I think we all here know the benefits it provides. Valuable networking, sharing our experiences, techincal training and knowledge transfer. It's a fantastic way to make sure that you are not falling into an innovation debt. As your team sees the most bleeding edge stuff, they bring that innovation back to your company. They use what they learn to solve the problems.
  • We would do a 24 hour codefest. The greatest part about it was that we had to show off what we built to everyone in the company, even board members. Some of our best new features came from that unscheduled time. Dyn - 2 days a month are "off-roadmap". 2 Days to take an idea you may have, and build something outside of normal project planning. It’s amazing what gets built.
  • Some people think culture is this stuff. Don't get me wrong - those are all nice things to have. They are perks only.You need to be careful though - too much of that and you start codling your employees, treating them like children. Exact opposite message you want to send.
  • Some people think culture is this stuff. Don't get me wrong - those are all nice things to have. They are perks only.You need to be careful though - too much of that and you start codling your employees, treating them like children. Exact opposite message you want to send.
  • The best culture that I've seen is one where there is wide levels of trust across the entire organization. Ownership is Huge. And it works in tandem with Trust. This is ignored far too oftenGive your employees the ability to learn and make mistakes. Learn how to fail in new and novel ways. These are all things that show a maturing team. This is how we grow in our careers.
  • Down to 3 things.Let your employees in on choosing meaningful workGive them ownership – to let them grow.You trusted them enough to hire them.Sum it up in one sentence. How do you retain your employees?Empower them to do stuff, guide them as they go. If you can get it right – you’ll reach Nirvana.
  • Down to 3 things.Let your employees in on choosing meaningful workGive them ownership – to let them grow.You trusted them enough to hire them.Sum it up in one sentence. How do you retain your employees?Empower them to do stuff, guide them as they go. If you can get it right – you’ll reach Nirvana.
  • Treat your employees like adults. You’ll reach nivana
  • Transcript

    • 1.  Pete Cheslock Twitter - @petecheslock Github/Freenode – petecheslock Director of DevTools
    • 2.  Pete Cheslock Twitter - @petecheslock Github/Freenode – petecheslock Director of Automation
    • 3.  Pete Cheslock Twitter - @petecheslock Github/Freenode – petecheslock Director of Release Engineering
    • 4.  Pete Cheslock Twitter - @petecheslock Github/Freenode – petecheslock Director of GSD
    • 5.  Pete Cheslock Twitter - @petecheslock Github/Freenode – petecheslock Director of Developer Happiness
    • 6. Disclaimer I’m not advocating The Right Way™ Shared Experiences from: Past/Current Companies Books Blog Posts Personal Interactions You may not be able to keep everyone@petecheslock
    • 7. YMMV@petecheslockhttp-//www.web-cars.com/mpg/epa_ymmv.php
    • 8. About Myself Network/System Admin Pre-sales Infrastructure Consulting Building and Managing Ops Teams Work/Recruit for companies you’ve never heardof (until recently)@petecheslock
    • 9. Recruiting = Sisyphus Difficult Painful Forced to Repeatfor Eternity (or so itfeels like)@petecheslockhttp://blog.anthonycoletraining.com/Portals/10395/images/sisyphus-resized-600.jpg
    • 10. Losing People SucksIt’s even more painful when you realize you couldhave avoided it.@petecheslockhttp://robbieabed.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/im-a-quitter.jpg
    • 11. Feels Like Failure Recruitment Retention Everything Else@petecheslockhttp://leujin.deviantart.com/art/Failure-is-always-an-option-141252872
    • 12. Who’s Hiring? Everyone Actively Recruiting, Interviewing, Etc?@petecheslock
    • 13. Not that bad?Really? Two Weeks Notice (Sometimes Four) Two Weeks “Intro to Company” Three Months Full Ramp-Up Four Months Total? Probably more like 6 Months.@petecheslock
    • 14. Constraints@petecheslock
    • 15. Didn’t Read the Books? “An hour lost on the bottleneck is an hour loston the entire system” “An hour gained on a non-bottleneck is amirage” What happens if Brent quit?@petecheslock
    • 16. Redundant Keymasters?@petecheslockhttp://cdn3.hark.com/images/000/659/522/659522/original.jpg
    • 17. System Shutdown Projects Slowdown Days get longer More Stress More PeopleLeave@petecheslockhttp://www.dashe.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/snowball_effect.png
    • 18. “Common sense is not so common.”@petecheslock- Voltaire
    • 19. Money@petecheslockhttp://x959fm.com/blogs/post/savery/2013/apr/15/bad-tattoo-day-pay/
    • 20. Money “Everyone takes a paycut to be here” Above market offer turns into a huge bump You need to take money off the table Monetary adjustments = short term fixes (at best) STPR@petecheslockhttp://x959fm.com/blogs/post/savery/2013/apr/15/bad-tattoo-day-pay/http://arnoldzwicky.s3.amazonaws.com/BizarroCarrotStick.gif
    • 21. Money@petecheslockhttp://arnoldzwicky.s3.amazonaws.com/BizarroCarrotStick.gif
    • 22. What Drives Us?AutonomyMasteryPurpose@petecheslockDrive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us:Dan Pink
    • 23. I tell my daughter what to do, not my engineers@petecheslock
    • 24. But I Need Work Done? Align work with an owner Back off and let them work on it Offer support as needed Filter unnecessary distractions@petecheslock
    • 25. Mastery Get better atsomething thatmatters Continuous Learning Skill Improvement@petecheslockhttp://www.midwestusergroup.org/RubiksCube.JPG
    • 26. Purpose"I want to write code that no one will ever use"-Nobody, Ever.@petecheslock Being a part of something greater Fulfilling, important work that matters.
    • 27. Story Time We had Nagios Nagios annoyed my Devs My Devs annoyed me@petecheslock
    • 28. @petecheslockhttp://www.menspsychology.com/blog/frustration-and-how-to-deal-with-it
    • 29. Wild Idea Appears “There is a better way to do this…I think” One week for a POC One month for an MVP Replaced Nagios 2 weeks after Opensource and Community@petecheslock
    • 30. @petecheslock
    • 31. Open Source Projects Gives people ownership Can make it easier to recruit later Costs can be minimal Benefits can be massive@petecheslock
    • 32. Unlimited Vacations You have to have the culture to back it up “Umm..You already have taken 3 weeks…”@petecheslock
    • 33. Unlimited Vacations@petecheslockhttp://img.gawkerassets.com/img/18ixlb19u5z7njpg/ku-medium.jpgIt should not be a way to avoid burnout
    • 34. The Remotes You want to scale, in this economy? Talent > Location A manager is responsible for the output of theirteam It doesn’t (shouldn’t) matter where people arecontributing from.@petecheslock
    • 35. The Remotes You want to scale, in this economy? Talent > Location A manager is responsible for the output of theirteam It doesn’t (shouldn’t) matter where people arecontributing from.@petecheslock
    • 36. Conferences They’re Important (In moderation) Opportunity to see new technologies Learn new and interesting solutions to problems Build a Personal Network@petecheslock
    • 37. Unscheduled Time@petecheslockhttp://www.georgeambler.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/reflect.jpg
    • 38. Culture Free Food/Snacks PingPong Tables Beer@petecheslock
    • 39. Culture Free Food/Snacks PingPong Tables Beer@petecheslock
    • 40. High Levels of Trust Across the OrganizationPersonal Ownership and Responsibility@petecheslock http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lodph06Pd51qfcygro1_250.jpg
    • 41. Challenging Meaningful WorkEmployee OwnershipHigh Levels of Trust@petecheslock
    • 42. @petecheslockTreat Them Like Adults
    • 43. @petecheslock
    • 44. Thank You@petecheslock