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After listening to the recent Right of First Refusal casts, I am reaching out  for help.

I am an entry-level mapping software developer working in the IT department of a political party. My job is to add mapping functionality to the organization's web applications. Although much less experienced than most on the development team, I am the in-house "expert" when it comes to mapping-related issues.

My job description is lengthy (3 pages), but here is a summary of my responsibilities:

  1. Use mapping technology to solve business problems.
  2. Design, develop, test, deploy and maintain mapping applications.
  3. Complete other programming tasks as assigned.
  4. Continuously acquire new technical skills as necessary.
  5. Develop relationships with technical service vendors.
  6. Document requirements of current and future mapping applications.
  7. Serve as primary contact with other departments on mapping related issues.

Simplifying this, my key priorities are:

  1. Maintain existing mapping applications.
  2. Design, develop, test and deploy new mapping applications.
  3. Learn to develop and maintain mapping applications better, faster.

Curious to hear your thoughts.

buhlerar's picture

Not sure what you're asking.

 

~~Edit~~

Sorry I was looking at the body of your comment and missed the question in the subject.  Looks like you've received some direction (i.e. others weren't as blind as me).

TomW's picture

Your priorities are best defined as "what is the best use of my time that will help my team/department/company succeed?"

Your job description very rarely defines your priorities. You really need to talk to your boss to find out what they might be.

jamie_p's picture

I agree with Tom W.  Your boss and up the ladder define your priorities. 

If you are unsure of your priorities, list the items that you are working on, prioritize them, and send the list to your boss prior to a 1:1.  Your boss will either agree with your prioritization or rearrange your priorities and may even discuss why in your 1:1. 

Your meeting schedule and general time spent should reflect the priorities provided to you.

DeskJockey's picture

Thank you for the input everyone.

This served as a good reminder that my top priority is making the best possible contribution to my team's overall success, period.

Rather than identify priorities myself, I should work with my boss to clarify them.

I often discover tasks that need to be done that my boss is not yet aware of. Rather than assume they fall within my priorities, I should communicate up the ladder "Hey, I just thought of something. We're going to need to use a different data structure here...."

All of this may seem obvious to some, but it's easy to forget common sense stuff like this when you spend all day deep in the weeds of technical problem solving. I'm also very high C and have a tenancy to under-communicate. More communication is ALWAYS better!

 

naraa's picture

I agree you must check with your boss the priorities and that they can change with respect to what is describe in the job definition and I do think it helps to check requests, especially if you service various departments within the organisation and they request services directly to you against your job description.  It sound to me your job is:

  1. Maintain existing mapping applications.
  2. Design, develop, test and deploy new, better and faster mapping applications. (you can combine 2 and 3)

So upon all activity you yourself decide to do or somebody else requests you to do you may ask how does that fit within this two functions to help you prioritise.  For example if a technical service vendor asks you for a meeting ask yourself how does that meeting relates to the two goals above.  It can help you eliminate certain service vendors you do not need to maintain or develop a relationship with.

It is not obvious.  I find that learning to define priorities is one of the most important thing to learn and to do well.  Do consult your direct boss, but do as jamie_P suggests come up yourself with a list of priorities and ask your boss to check on them.  The longer you work with him/her the sooner your priorities will start matching his own.  If he is a high D, he will absolutely love that.  If she is a high C or high I you will actually be helping her.  

My guess is in a political party the distribution is skewed towards more high I´s.  I am a high D, high I, and I work with quite a bit of high C´s.  After making many mistakes, after listening and relistening to the manager´s downfall on DISC, and after learning to observe people better,  I now do three thing:

1- Wait until my next "best idea" to share if I then share at all the previous one with my team;

2 - Specifically tell the people I am sharing an idea with them, they should not immediately start implementing it or think I expect them to have it ready shortly.

3 - Discipline myself to keep involved on projects I initiated but are being run by others, to keep consulting them regarding the status of those projects and keep sharing some ideas with them with respect to those projects, so they know that is still a priority although most of my time and excitement may be on something else.

But before I didn´t do this well (I am still learning) and I know I now I used to drive high C´s crazy!  Perhaps sharing that with you I can save you some pain if you do work for high I´s.

A friend of mine who is also a high I told me he had a high C working for him for a long time whom he used to ask: "is this doable?" Before moving to implement any new idea.  If you can be that high C for a high I boss, it is a perfect match.  Do find out the DISC profile of your boss and of the people you are servicing, and see how you complement their weakness.  Bosses don´t know it all.  Agree 100% communication is essential in priorization, and that is true for both sides, for employees to prioritise and for bosses too. 

Nara

PaulSchweer's picture

Hello DeskJockey,

Since you referenced the Right Of First Refusal casts, I assume you're asking how to best use your calendar to further your priorities?

First some comments, then some things you might try.

Lot of stuff in your description/priorities, but you're an entry-level software developer -- you gotta write/fix code.  Do some of that every day.  Pick _one_ thing and code it.  If you're unsure exactly which _one_ thing to code next, ask your boss.  Is there other stuff you gotta do?  Looks like it.  But you gotta code, no matter what.

Regarding your calendar, before you go home at the end of the day, you might try putting that _one_ thing you gotta code next on your calendar for tomorrow.  Make it a meeting, so others will see it.  And call it what it is: "Code the blue widget."  Make it for 9:30am to 11:00am.  Next day at 9:30am, turn off your cell phone, shut down your email, log out of IM, put ear buds in your ears (but don't plug them in), and for 90 minutes, put your head down and code the heck out of that blue widget.

Something calendar/priority to try, if you like.

Best,

Paul Schweer

 

Jrlz's picture

 

Let me first start by saying that I am in sales management and it maybe is easier than other fields to draw a line between key priorities and all the others.  I ask myself: “Which priorities, if not executed on to a level of excellence, will result in me getting fired”. Those are my key priorities.
I have seen that sometimes those up the ladder will label way too many priorities as “key”. This causes a manager to focus on too many things in order to execute well on any of them. They instead execute poorly on a lot of priorities rather than executing extremely good on a few.  

DeskJockey's picture

@paulschweer That is great, thanks.

@buhlerar No worries.

I'm eager to follow MT guidance and use my calendar as more than a meeting scheduler. But in hindsight, I was overthinking this one a little bit.

At my level in the organization, my priorities are pretty straightforward: write and fix code.

By putting coding-related tasks on my calendar IN ADVANCE, I know they will get done. Then, if someone asks me to attend a meeting about gathering business requirements for the next code module, I will see the time conflict on my calendar. Then I can raise the issue with my boss and ask "Hey, is this business requirements meeting a higher PRIORITY than this code you have me writing? Should I attend that meeting?"

Things could get more complicated when I start to ask "am I writing and fixing the RIGHT code?". But that's not a question for me to answer. on my own That's a question to answer in coordination with my boss.