Mantras to live by

I am inspired to write this blog after seeing a post in my company’s Workplace talking about wellbeing during COVID times and making effective communication. As a working professional there are some ‘mantras’ that I live by and here they go

General

  • Ownership of a Production issue – If you are tasked with an issue that requires urgent attention for production need, ensure that right from start to finish you own it. This would mean assigning proper timeline to start with, upon delivery ensure it is getting tested in UAT, goes Pre-Prod and then finally getting deployed to Prod. I want your eyes and ears all throughout this process either through regular follow-up’s and ensure post production.
  • Look out for opportunities – Quite often apart from your regular work, you may come across some tasks that are being done following a set process following certain sequence of steps in a methodical manner. Usually the people doing it do spend considerable amount of time out of their normal routine in accomplishing this (sometimes a week or more!). That should be the first sign of opportunity to seize and automate things.
  • Commitment to task- Never commit to anything upfront. If anyone is coming to you with a request to deliver something urgently, take some time to pause to first analyse it. Only after proper analysis give a timeline on when it can be done. When giving an estimate consider the time for actual build, Unit Testing, Regression Testing (if needed), Design document update, Peer Review (must), Rework time.
  • Meetings – Always have an agenda for a meeting and circulate it before hand as it provides context for participants. Be mindful of time and do not book it after-hours just because only person is off-limits. If you feel a phone call would be easier, then by all means give a ring and get it done fast.
  • Technical Front –
    • When solutioning a problem ask yourself the following questions – 
      • How critical is this problem?
      • Are there any more areas where such problem exists? If so what can be done about it?
      • At whole component level, is there something I can do to make the solution better?
      • Don’t be afraid to loosen things up and go one step further if you feel you can deliver a more robust and stable solution. Pitch for it if you are confident that you can deliver within the time frame.
    • Actual Fix – 
      • Provide proper code comments in the code and even in the Fix Details so that the anyone can understand what has gone into it.
      • Do thorough formatting of the code to make it more readable. 
      • Look for extensibility and scalability of the solution (how does it impact Asset) 
      • Ability for the solution to withstand large volumes (Query Plan analysis, stastics check etc.)

Mail Etiquettes –

  • Signatures – During my initial years, it was such a fanciful thing I used to put my heart into trying to come up with very unique, non-repetitive, colour formatted signatures, images etc mostly for bragging rights. It’s only later I see the futility of it. Anything non-standard is just plain distraction Here is how to tackle it
    • Check the organization’s internal pages for any signature etiquettes. 90% of the time they always do and it’s a straightforward process of just using it.
    • In cases where there isn’t one, the only things of need should be – Name, Role, Company Address, Official Mail Id (Very Important), Extension. That’s about it. Avoid putting in images.
  • Mail Acknowledgement – Always acknowledge a mail that is sent to you seeking advice/reply. If it takes time let them know about it that you would get back after certain time. If that time elapses and you aren’t able to do accomplish the task, put the mail again on why you weren’t able to. Essence is you should not keep people in dark, when they are waiting for response.
  • To/CC/BCC know-how – Always put the person whom you are referring to in ‘To’ and rest in CC. If there are group of 10 people in ‘To’ and if you are intending to reply only to one/two people, then except them everyone else should be in CC. Make this a practise. I have seen people create rules specific to being mentioned in ‘To’/’Cc’. Remember CC means it is an FYI and putting the unintended people in ‘To’ you are just wasting their time.
  • Mail Content – Remember that depending on the recipient your content should be altered. If you are writing mail to say senior leaders / non-technical people, then explain the issue with as much less technical details as possible, connect to them from customers impact point of view. As a general guideline you can structure your mail with blocks such as – Issue Observed (Job is failing/job taking long time etc.), Customer Impact (non-timely reports, process blockage etc.), Root Cause (if you have found out then put it else you can say it is still being investigated), Workaround/Solution Proposed. In this manner you are structuring your message properly and succinctly
  • In continuation of the above, when seeking for clarification, make it a point to let the team know that you have done some homework prior to reaching out. This would mean explaining them the thought process that went into coming to the current logic. Only then seek information. Remember half sent information causes to & fro exchange that would cost you a day or more.
  • Manager and Above – When you put mail to manager or above, wait for 10 to 15 minutes (don’t go anywhere from your desk) to see if they are seeking any clarifications. They are the busiest people and if they are looking for some more info then you are buying them good time in waiting for it. Also, never be afraid in terms of grammatical errors or overthinking in detailing. Everybody makes mistakes, own it and improve on it. Trust me they don’t mind as long as they understand what you are trying to convey.

Personal Front-

  • Folks, love everything you do. Only then you would be able to deliver results.
  • Never look for personal gains. Derive satisfaction in the work you deliver. Remember your bread and butter and your daily life is being provided to you by this job that you have got. Respect it. Rewards and recognition will automatically follow
  • When it comes to discussing things/issues keep in mind that every work you are doing is affecting someone and all your efforts are addressing a real problem.
  • Learn, learn and learn. Remember. Keep learning. Aim to cater at least 1 Hr per week in learning to enhance your career – it could be technical or non-technical ones.Once you learn, aim to deliver one session within the project team by preparing a deck and presenting it to them. This goes a long way in improving your presentation and oral skills.
  • Remember to invest in yourself – Of late, many of the training sites are demand hefty annual fee which may look daunting at first (say $400 – $600) but ration it per month and you will see, you will be able to afford it.
  • Don’t be a frog in the well. Have a periodic connect with managers or senior managers to know what their future plans for you is/ career opportunities are.

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