“Do your best” is philosophy, not a plan.

Paul has started an occasional series of observations on management practice in the development world.

Here are some reasons “do your best” is a poor management plan:

  • It?s not measurable.
  • A worker?s ?best? is a contingent target; it depends on how you marshal your limited resources (time, energy, attention, etc). If you do your absolute top best on one task, it reduces the amount of resources available for another task, so you have not done your “best” on everything. This means there is always something for the manager to point at and say “you?re not doing your best.”
  • Even assuming that it is a legitimate goal, there is no way to exceed the expectation of “your best.” This means doing your absolute top best at all times is only “breaking even” as far as the manager is concerned. This is demoralizing to a worker; every single time he misses even a small thing, he gets picked-at for not doing his best. This leads to lower performance, since the goal of ?your best? can never be truly met at all times.
  • It is lazy and greedy on the part of the manager. His job is to meet measurable goals, not to wring workers dry. The line about “then I?ve cheated you of ’20′” above is an example of this.

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[tags] developers, managers, series, plan, philosophy, paul, blog [/tags]

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