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#1 keakTheGEEK  Icon User is offline

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Annual Goals

Post icon  Posted 25 February 2011 - 07:23 PM

This week I met with my direct supervisor (who is also a Sr. Developer), to discuss my goals for 2011. During this discussion we talked about certain aspects regarding some of the applications that we develop, and where certain improvements could possibly be made in some of the modules. We also talked about current processes and practices and how we could possibly make some things more efficient. Essentially, the ideas that were brought up turn into a small side project that you get to work on throughout the year. Typically, something that you will enjoy and look forward to working on.

Setting annual goals each year is something that is done universally with all employees across all departments for the company that I am currently working for. Once the goal(s) are set, we will then touch-base with our supervisors periodically throughout the year and go over progress. It is essentially to promote innovation, career growth and development.

Do you think that it is important for a company to encourage innovation and professional career growth? Is this something that you look for and ask about when seeking employment with a company?

If you're a Senior Developer or Department Lead, do you encourage innovation amongst your staff? What methods do you practice to promote skill growth amongst your Developers? Do you have them set annual milestones or goals?

Please share your thoughts...

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Replies To: Annual Goals

#2 macosxnerd101  Icon User is offline

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Re: Annual Goals

Posted 25 February 2011 - 08:55 PM

In smaller businesses (especially businesses that aren't in the IT sector), there is more of a "get it done" attitude, expecting developers to pick up what they need to in order to accomplish a task.

In terms of annual goals, I'm not sure these are great for a developer UNLESS the time is being exclusively (or near-exclusively) allocated for said goal or project. If you get stuck with a 6-month project in addition, which is very time consuming, it can be difficult to juggle everything. As a developer, it is better (imo) to focus on one project and get it done effectively in a timely manner. Much better to please the clients more and get paid sooner, rather than drag out two or three projects for a while and collect from a couple clients at the same time. As a Project Manager, it is easier to balance a few projects than for a developer.

Regarding professional training, I'm a little split on this. I think if an employer supports further education, that's always a good thing. That being said, this is the industry where we're always going to have to learn new things. It's expected (at least to a certain extent) that we do some self-learning along the way.

In terms of innovation, as a manager, senior developer, etc., it is always good to encourage this amongst those working under you. It shows confidence in others, and can often times lead to good ideas and improved practices. Something my boss said to me at my internship that seems appropriate: "You have room to succeed, and fail here. I see failure as an opportunity to redirect our efforts."
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#3 keakTheGEEK  Icon User is offline

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Re: Annual Goals

Posted 26 February 2011 - 06:05 PM

@macosxnerd101,

Thanks for contributing to this discussion. You make some interesting points.

View Postmacosxnerd101, on 25 February 2011 - 08:55 PM, said:

In smaller businesses (especially businesses that aren't in the IT sector), there is more of a "get it done" attitude, expecting developers to pick up what they need to in order to accomplish a task.

Generally, I agree with you on this. However, from my experience I believe that the "get it done" attitude applies to companies both large and small.


View Postmacosxnerd101, on 25 February 2011 - 08:55 PM, said:

In terms of annual goals, I'm not sure these are great for a developer UNLESS the time is being exclusively (or near-exclusively) allocated for said goal or project. If you get stuck with a 6-month project in addition, which is very time consuming, it can be difficult to juggle everything.

Having the time to do it, that is something that is always a concern and talked about during the goal setting discussion. For my department in particular, whatever it is that we decide to do for our goal(s) doesn't necessarily have to be something that is a huge development effort and will take a lot of time to do. In fact, it doesn't necessarily have to be something that involves programming. It could be something like take a class or get certified for a particular industry that your client does business in to gain expertise.

It is understood that you are going to be busy working on stuff for the clients, which takes priority. So you're not expected to do something that will take up all of your time. However, my goal last year was to improve a feature in an application for one of our clients that really needed to get done. It was going to take a significant amount of time to do. Luckily, I was fortunate enough that we had set a maintenance budget and most (if not all) of the time I spent working on it was directly billable to the client.

Having an annual goal does add "extra work", but the idea of the goal is not to take focus away from the work that you need to do. It is really up to you what it is that you decide to do and how much work it is going to be to complete it. Generally (depending on what it is that you decide to do), it should be low pressure. Something that you would enjoy doing when you have some spare time. You do need to show that you are putting in an effort to get it done and show some progress, but you don't necessarily get "docked" if you don't complete everything related to your goal. It's essentially providing you with the opportunity to indulge in a certain aspect about your job that you really enjoy and want to learn more about.

View Postmacosxnerd101, on 25 February 2011 - 08:55 PM, said:

Regarding professional training, I'm a little split on this. I think if an employer supports further education, that's always a good thing. That being said, this is the industry where we're always going to have to learn new things. It's expected (at least to a certain extent) that we do some self-learning along the way.In terms of innovation, as a manager, senior developer, etc., it is always good to encourage this amongst those working under you. It shows confidence in others, and can often times lead to good ideas and improved practices.

I agree with you 100%. Whether a company encourages it or not, it is the developers own responsibility to train themselves and keep their skills relevant. The company isn't in anyway obligated to provide this for you.

However, all in all I think that it is great when a company encourages innovation, professional skill and career growth and provides resources for their developers to achieve these things. I think that if you compare companies that do to other companies that don't... the companies that don't probably have a much higher turnover...
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#4 AdaHacker  Icon User is offline

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Re: Annual Goals

Posted 28 February 2011 - 10:05 PM

The company I just quit used to do yearly goals like this. When I first heard about it, it seemed like a really good idea. It was supposed to be a way for managers to actively promote professional growth. However, the actual implementation didn't really work that way.

In our case, the problem was two-fold. First, meeting your goals was tied to performance reviews. At the beginning of the year, we were required to set 3 to 5 goals, and come review time, your raise depended (at least in part) on how you did on achieving those goals. Second, we constantly had a full work-load. There was no "spare time" to work on your goals and you sure as heck weren't going to get any time allocated for it. So if your goals were at all complicated, you were going to have to work on them on your own time.

The result of this was that we learned to set completely pointless goals. We'd pick things we were 99% sure we'd be doing anyway, or which were so small we could bang them out in an afternoon. Of course, this completely defeated the point of the exercise, but it was better than the alternative of getting penalized because we didn't want to work even more unpaid overtime than we already were. (That's assuming we even got an annual review - some years they just didn't bother, which added to the pointlessness of the process.)

The moral of the story: talk is cheap. It's a lot easier to say you're promoting professional development than to actually do it. I think it's great for a company to try to promote professional development among the staff, but you have to be careful how you do it. In the case of my company, they managed to do it in a way that completely subverted the intended outcome. If they'd done things differently, it might have been a helpful program. Hopefully they're not representative of other companies that do this.
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#5 keakTheGEEK  Icon User is offline

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Re: Annual Goals

Posted 01 March 2011 - 01:50 AM

@AdaHacker,

You make a very good point regarding how the process is implemented. If it is done in a way, such as you described, then I can definitely see the pointlessness in it. In that particular case, I would say that the whole process overall has a much greater negative impact than a positive and fulfilling one for both parties involved (the person who has to complete the goal as well as management who is making them mandatory).

From what you described, it doesn't really sound like anything of value was actually being achieved by that process. Did this have anything to do with why you quit? It sounds like you would have liked to take advantage of the program if it was implemented better.
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#6 macosxnerd101  Icon User is offline

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Re: Annual Goals

Posted 02 March 2011 - 02:23 PM

Quote

Generally, I agree with you on this. However, from my experience I believe that the "get it done" attitude applies to companies both large and small.

True, but in larger companies, the roles will be better defined and enforced. A junior developer will be doing junior developer work, and working towards more specifics (ie., classes and components) of the project. In a small business, there is more room to explore alternative solutions and technologies b/c there are fewer IT people that are relied upon more heavily. They tend to get more latitude b/c there really isn't a senior developer delegating.
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