Near the end of High Output Management, Andy Grove argued that the organizations should lean into the Peter Principle. He says anyone who’s recently promoted to a new role will be mediocre at first. If we want to prevent that mediocrity completely, there cannot be any growth opportunities for the employees. Instead, he suggests that the organizations revert the promotion if the necessary training and the ramp-up take longer than the organizations demand.
His argument reminded me of Netflix’s high-performance culture, whose failure mode is not giving the employees the stretching assignment. The managers are afraid the employees will not perform at the needed level right away. A Netflix VP once told me that all hiring managers should hire someone who will contribute the most over the 3-5 year’s time to counter that failure mode. But I don’t think that’s how it works now.
Software Engineering ⚙️
When an engineer joins a new team, there are many tools and conventions they need to learn before they can function independently. Since it’s harder to learn about those organically since we are remote, explicit engineering standards like New Relic’s will become the best practice.
I’ve only worked in organizations where a product team operates as a triad of product, design, and engineering where all three have an equal voice. Thus, it was eye-opening to read about this Single-Threaded-Owner (STO) model where a single person manages all three functions.
McKinsey published an article on the ongoing “Great Attrition.” I found this quote particularly powerful:
Employees were far more likely to prioritize relational factors, whereas employers were more likely to focus on transactional ones.
I got two thoughts after reading this article. First, as the author points out, a big tech career looks different from a startup career, and few people cross between the two worlds. So, think about what you value.
Second, many people (founders, recruiters, hiring managers, etc.) will razzle-dazzle you so that you make the decisions benefiting them, not yourself. Understand what you get out of the particular role and determine if that’s right for you.