Best Trumps Easy

I work at Yahoo!, building open source software. I build Yeti, but I work alongside the team building YUI. The engineers who built this team, and continue to work on this team, are the reason I have chosen to stay at Yahoo! building Yeti: they choose what’s best over what’s easiest.

You work with people too. You know your people are not perfect, but they’re going somewhere great, which is why you’ve decided to join them.

I’m going to tell you that building software is very hard, but the most challenging part of my job isn’t building code. It’s building people.

Your people are not a test framework or a programming language: they are human beings. Like your favorite code, they don’t always meet your expectations. They will let you down.

People tell stories. What you do next will define the stories they tell.

You probably rely on these people, so when they fail you, it’s going to affect you. A lot. You probably don’t deserve to be subjected to their actions.

It’s easy to react.

I’m telling you, the best people never settle on what’s easy.

The best people never coddle or spin. They’re honest and speak their mind, but only after giving it 5 minutes. They think instead of react.

The best people deliver criticism inwardly, one-on-one, to the person who needs it. The attitude is service and respect.

The best people will embrace the opportunity to be a mentor instead of the opportunity to stand up for what they deserve.

Next time your people don’t meet your expectations, I encourage you to see an opportunity to invest in people. It will be hard. It may take up a lot of your time and nobody but them will appreciate your investment. Yet serving others this way will reward you.

You never know when you’ll need it yourself.

It’ll also reward them. Honest feedback delivered this way is very desirable and mutually beneficial.

If you want this kind of culture in your team or community, I’d encourage you to be the first one to start. Give more than they deserve, seek to understand what they care about, and after careful consideration, deliver your feedback to them personally.

It’ll be the start of a conversation you won’t regret.