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Each month, we invite you to ask your questions anonymously to the talent club community. We select 3 questions, let the community answer them, and sum it all up for you in an article.

This month, we help 3 more people for the 3rd round of our career Q&A👇

❓ Question #1

“How do you approach discussing the issue of low performance of your colleagues with your manager? I'm always happy to acknowledge and appreciate good work, but I find it difficult to effectively communicate about poor performances.”

The main question here is: can I openly evaluate my colleagues' performance if I don't have hierarchical authority over them?

To make sure you are able to do so, follow these 3 steps:

  1. Figure out if the poor performances are really affecting your own performance
  2. Try to talk to your colleagues before approaching management
  3. If you end up talking to management, frame the conversation constructively

1. Talk about colleagues’ poor performances only if they affect yours

The first question to ask yourself is: is my colleague’s poor performance affecting mine?
If the answer is yes, you can consider raising the topic with them and/or management:

Unless their performance is a hindrance to your progress, I wouldn't mention it just for the sake of making a point and get them "punished".”
If their performance is affecting yours (e.g. you need work from them to progress), mention that you feel you have the bandwidth to do more but cannot.”

So, if you've noticed that your colleagues’ poor performance is affecting your own work, it's important to address the issue. It may feel uncomfortable to bring it up but it's completely legitimate to do so. By addressing the issue, you can work towards improving the situation for both yourself and your colleague.

2. Talk to your colleagues before approaching management

After identifying the problem and how it impacts your work, it's best to try to help your colleagues before bringing the issue up with your manager:

“It would be respectful to not first ask your colleague directly. Get to know each other and understand the reason behind what seems to you like bad performance. You would be surprised how much improvement I got simply by showing empathy to the other human being.
“Talk to your colleague(s) first (1 on 1), and ask if anything's bothering them or if you can help them somehow? Of course, be friendly and open/honest, without judging. Suggest ways you can help them if they say "it's all okay", such as looking at how they do things, and maybe even showing how you do it, etc. If that does not yield the desired results in a reasonable time frame, only then talk to your manager.”

This approach is way more human, as you never know what is happening in someone’s life:

You may not know what they're going through in their personal lives and whether there are any factors contributing to their poor performance beyond simple lack of skills or ambition.”
Simple supporting words are much more effective than putting even more heavy pressure on someone that might be suffering already.”

If this approach doesn’t bring results, then you can consider talking to your manager.

3. If you end up talking to management, frame the conversation constructively

Discussing a colleague's poor performance with your manager should be done wisely, both for you and your colleague. You should try to avoid:

  • Making it personal and/or subjective
  • Looking disdainful
  • Being too critical

Instead, you should:

  • Explain clearly how it impacts your work with facts and KPIs: provide specific examples of the colleague's behavior or actions that are impacting the work.
  • Show that you are willing to help and support your colleague to improve their performance: offer suggestions for how your colleague can improve their performance, such as providing additional training or support.
Always frame it as wanting to help them grow. Make sure you stick to the facts and don't make it personal. Make the impact of their behavior clear. Suggest an action that they can take to improve. For example, "I've noticed that Alex often cuts people off in meetings. This has made several of our junior teammates afraid to speak up when he's present. I was hoping you could coach him to leave a pause before he jumps in or ask the speaker if they're done before he shares his idea.”
“See if there are any KPIs you can refer to in your team or organisation. Mention how a colleague is underperforming and needs help in a particular area based on the KPIs and expected performance for the seniority level. Be humble and suggest how they could improve and why it is impacting your work.”

❓ Question #2

"How can I address that the workload is just too much without appearing weak?"

First of all, it’s not weak to say that your workload is too much. It’s quite the opposite, as you need to be strong enough to say so.

To address this issue, you should:

  1. Make your work visible
  2. Say no to new requests and explain why
  3. Be honest with your manager during 1:1s

1. Make your work visible

Making your work visible can improve collaboration, and ensure that your workload is properly managed and acknowledged by your colleagues and managers.

“Make your work visible, most of the time your colleagues and manager are not fully aware of all you are doing. Show that you manage your priorities well and you are planning your work following those priorities."

Some ideas to make your work visible:

  • Sharing progress updates to the team by chat: send regular updates on Slack (or other messaging tools)
  • Always keep your projects up-to-date and well-documented in the project management tool you use internally: you need to take time to write updates, challenges you’re facing, and plans for the future.
  • Create a brag doc to showcase your work during performance reviews. We’ll be writing an article about this topic very soon!

2. Say no to new requests and explain why

If your workload is too much, you have to say no to new requests and explain that the quality would be lower if you work on this new project.

“I usually get straight to the point. As a grant writer and a program manager, I tell my superiors that I have 5 applications in the pipeline, and 2 projects in the delivery phase. Trying to make me work with 1 more application will make the quality lower.”

It's important to regularly challenge your manager about priorities and deadlines. You should always be aware of which project is the most important to work on.

“Be genuine about the fact that you cannot give more and that some of the priorities need to drop. Highlight the risk of missing deadlines with the current workload”
“Raising concerns that your workload is unmanageable is not weak, it is pragmatic. There is a finite number of hours in a week and if there is more work coming in than you can carry out, the best thing to do is get feedback on what to prioritize and what can be delegated.”

3. Tell your manager during your next 1:1

Another option is to take advantage of your 1:1 with your manager to explain the situation and find solutions quickly.

“Be honest with your manager, e.g.: "I've noticed my (mental) health deteriorating due to the workload being too much, and the stress is getting too high. Can we talk about lowering my workload?". This opens the road to a mutually-beneficial conversation. You don't get burnout or resign, they keep you as an employee as well as productive, and respect/loyalty increases on both parties' sides.”

❓ Question #3

"With the looming recession, have you guys been receiving satisfactory bonuses and salary increases? If you just give them as percentages, it would be great!"

Around 35% of the respondents got a salary increase, with most of them receiving between 6% and 8%. The rest of the respondents, 65%, did not get a salary increase yet.

Here are some of the answers from the community:

“No, nothing. A new position, doing more work, but I got no increase at all. When taking inflation into account, I get less salary than I got before.”
“I went from L4 (senior software engineer) to L5 (principal) in December and got a 17% base salary increase. However my company has since announced that they will lower the company bonuses for everyone due to economic context and investments. They are going down 50%, which is roughly 30% total comp reduction for me.”
“Yearly salary increase: 3.32%, bonus: unknown, maybe a few percent of salary (I'm starting this job in April and don't know much about their incentives yet).
First, there is no recession. Microsoft hired 77k from 2021 and 2022 and then laid off 10k. What happened was actually over-hiring. A lot of tech companies hired more than they really needed. The market for web developers is still really hot. What you have to do is to check how is your salary compared to your region, if your salary is not at least on average, you SHOULD get a raise or change jobs. I recommend if you need help with that ;)

We’ll soon be releasing our Salary Report 2023, a piece of content that should help you to get a clearer vision of what’s happening right now in terms of compensation.

Thanks to all participants! You’ll be able to ask new questions next month, so keep an eye on your mailbox 👀

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