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Methodology

The methodologies I employ are constantly refining and evolving with experience. I have picked up many of the approaches below from people I have worked with, below and above over the years. This list is a reminder for myself, as well as some humble advice to anyone interested. I try to give credit where due, while still protecting privacy (first name + last initial). I only name past mentors/managers.

Development
I take pride in developing solutions that are modular and reusable throughout the system. By restricting my code to being a black box with instructions, inputs and output, it makes it easier for others to make use of my efforts. Which makes me feel good. (Chip M)

When an approach that I am considering (or even have started) is getting overly complicated, I consider Occam's Razor and see if there's a more simple solution that I had been overlooking. While challenges can be fun, engaging in them gratuitously can make for an overengineered and difficult to maintain solution.

In my experience, choosing a simpler solution is does not mean taking the easy way out. On the contrary, it often provides the opportunity for a more elegant solution. My favorite example of this is using regular expressions instead of many if/else blocks. A regular expression takes up minimal space, and often relatively little effort. And yet what can be more elegant than a well-crafted regular expression?!

Testing is easy to ignore, but is critical. How many times have I made a change with confidence that it couldn't have broken anything only to see that it did just that. Instead, making even just one change should compel a fresh round of reviewing/testing. (Rene H)


Business
I try to find the right communication approach for each person with whom I interact. Some respond better and faster via e-mail, some by phone, others in person, and probably most through a particular combination of these. (Sandi V)

Keep e-mails concise. In general, response time is proportional to the length of the e-mail. When helpful, bold the action items/questions. (Rachel B)

Always avail myself to help others, both for work relevant to what I know and work that expands my boundaries. (Graham K)

Be myself. Be the same person I am in private as I am with my team, as I am with my customer. That is not to say that I should take a flaw most visible in one aspect of my life (say, parenting) and make sure they are visible in others (say, with the client). On the contrary, I should resolve to fix the flaw in all aspects of my life. When people know that I am not putting up a "front" when in the business world, I believe it engenders trust and a strong relationship. (Tim P)

Be reasonably conservative in making decisions. Thinking outside the box is valuable, only so long as it's borne by considered thought. Impetuousness, on the other hand, is generally unwise. (Hunter B)

It is easy to click "send" right after completing an e-mail. Hold on for a moment, though. Take the time to proofread it and make sure that the message I want to convey is being properly conveyed. Like with coding, making even just one edit necessitates a fresh round of proofreading. (Matt K)

Always give the benefit of the doubt and never lose patience. I don't know the true reason why that person messed up, ignored my e-mails/messages, or did something else that bothers me. Plus, what goes around comes around. (Rose L)

Come to meetings prepared. Bring printouts if they can be helpful. If I'm the meeting organizer, always include an agenda, and stick to it. This shows that I value others' time. Prepare any questions I may want to ask in advance. (John C)

Wherever reasonable, say "yes". Of course "no" will sometimes be necessary, but such things as PTO requests, helping others and responding to requests from coworkers can generally be done without endangering other deadlines, if properly managed. (John L)

Particularly during holiday seasons, I try to keep in mind the holiday names and traditional greetings (e.g. Eid Mubarak, Merry Christmas, Shanah Tovah) for each of the diverse cultures of the people with whom I work. I pay attention to pronouncing them as best I can. (Paul S)


Management
I ensure regular progress on all current efforts by reviewing all sent and flagged e-mail at the end of every week, and flagging each e-mail for follow-up with an appropriate date.

When giving feedback, I try to sandwich any "opportunities for improvement" between what they're doing well. I also like to provide examples of both good and bad things they've done, because I have found that examples help concretize something abstract. (Chip M)

Ask people both above and below for help. (Hunter B)

Make a point of introducing myself to someone more senior and asking for recurring (every 3 - 6 weeks) informal mentoring/advice. They will be flattered by the admiration, and will in turn reward me with wisdom they've gleaned from their experience. (Danielle E)

I challenge myself to remember that my goal is to help develop others to be greater than myself. It might sound counterintuitive, but it's the best way to ensure the success of the entire team/company, instead of just myself. (Good to Great)

In the vein of appreciating others, I make a point of letting people know what they're doing well, as well as how that's contributing to our overall success. Recognize in public; criticize in private. (Hunter B)

Make time to celebrate teammates. Bring in a cake or an ice cream for their birthday. Take them out to a happy hour every month or two. (Sandi V)

Planning is an essential part of effective management. Truly, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." (Sandi V)

Being self-aware is critical. Without knowing both my strengths and weaknesses, I cannot improve myself. And what else is there to personal and professional life other than improvement? (Al H)

I am just as interested in hearing feedback from below as from above. I'd hate to do something that I thought was appreciated but really wasn't. Communication in all directions is critical. (Judah R)

"Perfect" is the enemy of "good enough". The goal is to be to specification, under schedule, and under budget. Overly exceeding specifications can jeopardize the latter two goals. (Rhonda S)

Encourage employees to take advantage of training opportunities available to them. (Al H)

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