I once had a boss who in my first ever performance review meeting shocked me. Now I had been through some review meetings before starting in this company and I always DREADED them. As this was my second job out of college, I was still afraid of the process. But this guy sat me down looked at the “goal settings” page and said, “ignore that, its HR bullshit, how can I help you today?”
This blew my mind. The last company I was in, all my one to ones had been micromanaging sessions telling me I wasn’t doing my job well enough. All that did was ruin my already low self esteem as I was fresh out of college and to be honest terrified. One simple question changed all that, how can I help you today?
Honestly I didn’t know how to answer him. I was expecting to be told the work I was doing wasn’t good enough and that I needed to just get better. I kind of just sat there for a minute or two and then said something like, “how can I improve what I am doing?”
Instead of telling me what I was doing wrong, he told me what I was doing well. Then said maybe you should improve in X area. Then recommended a book for me to read, and booked me in on some training in that area. So when we caught up the next month, I was able to show what I had learnt and how I was able to improve my work. Also because I was totally disarmed and not afraid, I was perfectly willing to approach him with any problem I had.
He also taught me how to self learn. He did this by introducing me to the wider testing community and brought me to a conference. It was here I learnt that it’s not just the companies job to train you, you need to train yourself. So I started reading blog posts and attending meetups, and looking for new ways to improve and new things to try. This all started with that one little question and a genuine interest into my personal growth.
It also made me realise that junior folk will not know this. They have to be taught how to self learn. It is important as it not only helps the company but builds up the person’s self esteem. Instead of making me feel bad and dread a catch up meeting, I looked forward to them. It made me enjoy my work, which is super important. Your job should be fun for you.
It reminded me of something my granddad used to say when he rang me, “are you wanting for anything?” It was not do you need something, but, what do you want and how can I get it for you? It was a level of kindness that everyone should strive for.
Now I am human and by no means perfect, but i try to ask that simple question when someone asks me something, “how can I help you today?”
I will leave you with some wise words by one of my favourite musicians Frank Turner:
“Be more kind, my friends, try to be more kind”.