Developer Tea

Interview w/ Kristen Gallagher (Part 2)

Episode Summary

In today's episode, I talk with Kristen Gallagher about HR. This isn't the boring stuff you think when you first hear the term human resources; we talk about how HR can help teams work better together. Today's episode is brought to you by Linode. Linode Provides superfast SSD based Linux servers in the cloud starting at $5 a month. Linode is offering Developer Tea listeners $20 worth of credit if you use the code DEVELOPERTEA2017 at checkout. Head over to to learn more about what Linode has to offer to Developer Tea listeners .

Episode Notes

In today's episode, I talk with Kristen Gallagher about HR. This isn't the boring stuff you think when you first hear the term human resources; we talk about how HR can help teams work better together.

Today's episode is brought to you by Linode.

Linode provides superfast SSD based Linux servers in the cloud starting at $5 a month. Linode is offering Developer Tea listeners $20 worth of credit if you use the code DEVELOPERTEA2017 at checkout. Head over to to learn more about what Linode has to offer to Developer Tea listeners!

Episode Transcription

When I on boarded people for a job not just as a consultant, I would I loved the days where I had multiple like people from multiple teams so that we could facilitate discussions about this and say, you know What do you think people in HR do? What do you think people in marketing do and we have such bad understandings of what people do every day and how they spend their Hopefully eight hours Hopefully not in 12 or 16, but you know, we don't necessarily know how the other half lives and that would help us ship better products right it would help us Develop a company that that truly appreciated everybody at the company How much do you know about your job How much do you know about your co-workers job and And what does it mean to on board someone and teach them everything that you know about your job That's what we're talking about in today's episode This is a second part of the interview with Kristen Gallagher I highly recommend you listen to the first part if you haven't in today's episode We're talking about onboarding and quite a few other things related to human resources and we also debunked this idea that HR is a cold term So make sure you listen through for that My name is Jonathan Cutrell. You're listening to Developer Tea goal is to help you become a better developer to help driven developers Become better at what they do so they can have a positive impact on the people they come in contact with and ultimately a positive impact on the world Now here's the key for this show to be useful to you. You have to be a driven developer Oh, what is a driven developer? We're going to keep on talking about this topic in multiple episodes from now on essentially but A driven developer is someone who actually believes in doing work that goes beyond the bottom line Someone who believes in doing work they enjoy Working with people they trust you know building relationships with the people they work with you know wanting to develop expertise Right wanting to empower others to learn wanting to lift other people up This is what it means to be a driven developer. So if you are that if that fits your personality This show is specifically made for you It's specifically made to help you Jump some gaps that you may have in your thinking and perhaps enlighten or inspire you in ways that you otherwise wouldn't be able to be in lighten or inspired So if that description matches you then I want you to subscribe I want you to subscribe and become a part of the Developer Teacommunity You know, we want to make sure that we make strong statements about our values And I want you to join us in that Today's episode is all about values. It's all about learning and sharing And we're talking with Kristen Gallagher. She created edify go and check it out edify Thank you so much for listening to today's episode. Let's get straight into this interview with Kristen Gallagher I like to say this on the show We're all building one thing Right, and there's there's only one thing that is the result of our collective efforts and there's different parts There's different components and But all of it makes up a collective hole and if we can't See ourselves and this is another thing that you mentioned that aligns with the The traits of a great developer is expanding your perspective beyond what you do Uh, it's very simple. It sounds very simple. It's difficult to actually implement But conceptually it's it's very simple as seeing the values and the perspectives of other people and other teams You know competing values and understanding why they compete right? Right um you you probably don't have A company full of morons plus a development team Right. Yeah, that's that's almost Impossible to be true You probably do have a company full of people who have very little understanding for what other people do Right that is the average company Right We want to understand what we do so well um and especially as developers we want to Uh as as a general rule the archetype of a developer is to become an expert right To really nail down and understand things that no one else in the company can really touch and it feels Almost exciting to have that kind of wielding that knowledge as a developer and unless less so now that maybe five years ago Uh, but having that information we want that so bad that we forget that it's only effective if we can use it with other people Right If we can actually deliver value In collaboration with other teams Yeah, the the lone wolf kind of lone genius archetype is just not You know it might have worked Even recently it could have worked but I think the direction that companies are having to move due to You know economic pressures political pressures all kinds of different things going on in the market You know, uh, we're we have to work together. We have to be able to draw ideas from each other and ultimately You know not trying to go right back to onboarding But it is it's a conversation about how we take the tacit knowledge that's in our heads and explain that Into some explicit format to to someone else and and try to understand their tacit knowledge as well Yeah, there's there's something that is that is a commonly said and I think it's attributed to ogolfi And I agree with this this perspective great ideas come from individuals So we don't want a whitewash or or remove this concept That the individual mind is an is an important right that's that's not true great ideas certainly originate with Individuals, but great companies great products great teams are collaborative effort So no matter how good the idea is if it's too big for you to do on your own then you need someone else right There's nothing there's nothing super valuable so valuable about that idea that it supersedes the need For collaboration and for cooperation and for these shared process like sharing that value output right It's so critical to success of anything of of Uh, significance. Yeah, you know, I'm gonna kind of make a little bit of a logical leap here But if you as a as a technical team and engineering team You if you want to get more support from your HR organization. Let's presume that you have somebody in HR even one person Um, this all of the stuff that we've been talking about is so critical because you know, I've never met an HR person who doesn't want the company to succeed I think there's a really negative and and well-earned to be honest well-earned Negative reputation for HR, but to be honest, you know, I work with them on a day-to-day basis in multiple companies And everybody really does want the company to succeed We all have kind of different ideas about how that might happen and how we have to go about it But let's say that you know, we talked earlier about you know Retaining employees and struggling to do that Um, let's say that's one of your challenges as your as your team is growing Um, your HR people can help you with that right and and approaching them and saying like hey, I want to be your partner in this You know, they might not know what to do because they've never had an engineering team say that to them, you know Um, because I see that happen so much that there's not a collaboration between teams that um, you know, it's like technical with technical and and I have problems with this phrase anyway, but non-technical and non-technical Yeah, yeah, and you know, it's it is so important to to be able to communicate these things and to be able to Uh to translate the value, you know, that's that's kind of the key Uh Concept here. It's not doing away with your values And it's not just saying okay, you know apparently in order to work with someone else I have to just kind of forget what I care about right or forget my uh expertise That's not that's not it at all It's creating the interfaces that are necessary to translate the values right from from one team to another And to be able to say okay What I'm doing today Helps you accomplish what you want to do tomorrow, right or the thing you did yesterday Helps or hurt me in what I want to accomplish and I know that you don't want that right I know that we want to succeed together And it may quite honestly be that these teams, you know, is very much so kind of a blinders Way of of interacting with it's it's easy to think that your work only affects you right and your decisions only affects you And the people on your team at the very most but that's not true and The the translation happens whether you're managing it or not and really what Kristen I think you're saying is It's worth managing it's worth putting some energy and managing that translation. It really is I couldn't I couldn't have said it better myself. I think you know change is happening whether or not you direct it to happen and Information is being transmitted and and codified whether or not you wanted it to be people are are creating those perceptions and creating the The ideas that they have based on how you're working and how they're working And so we might as well take control of that situation and and make sure that it's you know better optimized for all of us to succeed Yeah, you have onboarding whether or not you created a specific onboarding or not. That's exactly right Is there is a first day? There is Get around it. Yeah Yeah, and there there is a way that your company behaves, you know, there's So it is important to to think about these things and it's not just a thing for big companies either I want to kind of Dispel that for people who are listening. You're like oh while we only have five people. We only have ten people It's not just for big companies now it becomes more complicated and Skate Kristen your job is to help people scale into that position Uh, but this stuff is still true when you have smaller companies that have multiple teams and that's that's the case where I work Um, we we have these same kinds of problems and you know, just because we don't have Uh, a sustaining budget for an HR department doesn't mean that suddenly we just don't have a need Uh, to be more human right and this is something that you're really passionate about. Can you talk a little bit more about You know, what it means to kind of Take away or I guess reintroduce the human element Uh, knowing your talk for example, you mentioned that you don't really have slack on your list of tools for communication Can you kind of give an idea of how you know, what kind of elements make something more human Uh, that interaction process. How can I you know, in a small company or in a big company? How can I Uh, uh, reintroduce human elements where so often they're removed. Yeah, that's a really good question And it let me cut slack some slack. I actually do think that it's a great tool It's just not a great tool for managing documentation and unfortunately I'll try to use it that way so um, I actually had to had the pleasure of being at slacks frontiers conference last week and it was awesome Um, it did a great job, but um like any tool slack is one of those things that if you use it well It can be great if you use it poorly. It can be terrible. It's so true. It's so true But from the you know, if I wanted to give you just a couple of things to try to make your just make your workplace more human in a way Um, I would say that you can start with you know, some of the things we've already talked about with with empathy and let's just you know from a tactical perspective think about Um, how you welcome a new person into your company. Let's say that you don't have the budget. You don't have the time You don't have a dedicated resource to manage a great big onboarding program and these things, you know as they're out They're all relative right so great big can mean, you know, different things for different companies at Different scales But it doesn't you know, let's say you don't have a 30-day plan that you've made up because you were working 80 hours a week Trying to make sure something happened last week and you know, now it's Monday and your person has showed up Well, you know, maybe bring a coffee like bring you know ask them to go out to a cup of tea with you or If you're remote make sure that you're on time for that meeting, you know, it's it's really the little things to me It's it's about Being present, you know, it's about putting your laptop down in the one-on-one or saying hey, I need my laptop to write notes Is that okay with you? You know, um, it's really little things about the way that we communicate and making eye contact or Or figuring out, you know, oh, this is actually really uncomfortable for me And I think that's something we need to be mindful of too is that as our companies become more diverse Not everybody communicates in the same way and that can show up in a physical sense. It can show up digitally So it's important to ask people, you know, what's the best way for you and I to to get this work done You know, what do you prefer you just showed up at this company and I think you're great and you know, how are we gonna work together? So asking some really open basic questions. I think it's a really good way to get started Yeah, that's a really good point, you know, you mentioned a few very practical things in there Uh, that I think are very often overlooked and perhaps because of you know, the surrounding digital culture Um, you know, I don't want to blame any particular thing, but we very often do we will pull out our phones during meetings Even when it's like the CEO of the company. We're we're very guilty of this at whiteboard Um, and we've kind of made a concerted effort to stop doing that right and it is something you have to be mindful of because It is, you know One of my favorite quotes on the subject. I've said it on the show probably hundreds of times at this point But how we live our days how we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives right so In every moment that you are interacting with other people each of those moments is kind of creating your relationships With them and so if you if you are off your game one day right like if you're and I don't Maybe that's the wrong terminology, but you know if you uh Act in a way that is Flippent on a regular basis because eventually you think you can And fix it right one day you're going to be professional again or whatever Uh today is kind of the first day That you can start doing that right it's not something to to continue just putting off or ignoring It's so true somebody just told me a story the other day about her manager who actually called her on her cell phone And the manager was apparently stuck in an elevator Um, but she had uh one-on-one scheduled and um, she didn't want to miss the one-on-one so they did the one-on-one while the fire department was coming to Un-oh wow the elevator right so you know, and that's that's kind of an extreme example But it made me laugh because obviously that manager had such commitment to Making sure that their new hire got the opportunity You know, and and that manager was also mindful the other part of the story was that you know That manager was scheduled for the rest of the week so they were not going to be able to meet with their new that that person So they were really mindful of the fact that you know, this is time blocked out and you know Those of us who have been both managers and junior employees at a certain time You know when you're a junior employee or even a mid-level employee and you have that 30 minutes or that hour with your manager You know, you're really generally speaking I think you're looking forward to it to say hey, here's what I've been up to for the last week or the last month and I really Need your help with this one thing or what do you think about this and The manager relationship is one to many but you know, we If you're an employee and not a manager sort of the reverse and so it's really important to be so good You know mindful of of people's time and their feelings like we don't talk a lot about feelings, but I think we'd really good In Today's episode is sponsored by Linode you know some of my most important learning opportunities in my career Have been when I was kind of playing around with stuff I was playing with code was making a side project. I was having fun with something You know, maybe I wanted to learn how to set up a cron job or create a little micro service here or there or learn a little bit about You know how to install packages on various platforms Uh, this this is something that is so important to the learning process and that is the ability to explore Now if you don't have an environment to explore in if you don't have something to launch these Micro services or many projects if you don't have anything to launch those on Then you're probably going to stop before you even get started and you know, we know that starting is kind of the key to Continuing right if you don't start then you'll never finish so I highly recommend that you check out Linode because Linode is going to provide you with that atmosphere that learning atmosphere And you can get started with Linode for five dollars a month that gets you a one gigabyte of RAM server And one gigabyte of RAM is plenty enough to get started with the side project But let's say that you decide to scale that project or maybe you're listening and you don't fit that beginner profile Actually, you're looking for a solution to deploy a highly scalable Application that you're already building or maybe you have an application that is growing and you're looking for a way to scale it Well, Linode also provides high memory plans. They're a full service provider They're intended to support the enterprise, right? That's so important to Linode and they have a robust Customer service architecture as well So you can get these high memory plans 16 gigabytes of RAM for $60 a month incredible incredible deals Better than pretty much any other deal per You know dollar per RAM or RAM per dollar whatever the ordering is of that ratio And they have the best deal on the market so go and check it out spec'd out FM slash Linode And here's the special part of this is they're going to provide you with $20 with a credit Just for using the code Developer Tea2017 so thank you again to Linode for sponsoring today's episode Head over to spec that FM slash Linode to get started today Most managers and I'm including myself in this You this is your first time doing this just like everyone else, right? I was I don't have 30 years of being a boss That's not you know, I didn't come into this with a bunch of experience. I just I I now I am a manager and you know, it wasn't something that I was trained for it wasn't something that I Is something that kind of ended up happening as a result of me sticking with what I was doing And that's that's a great thing right? It's a it's a fun opportunity It's exciting opportunity. It's kind of the way things typically go The people who are in one trade the kind of hop Parallel tracks and end up being you know in managerial positions Because they understand the day-to-day work That those that the people they're managing are doing. It's a very natural thing to happen But here's the thing I don't have the constant perspective that other people are looking to me right? That's not a natural thing to understand because then no other part of my life is that true And so you have to constantly be reminding yourself hey this you know what I do is different than it used to be I'm not just you know, I'm not just working on software on my own and then going home What I do with my time it matters to other people now more than it did before Mm-hmm. That's so true Kristen, this has been an excellent conversation and and so exciting to hear That there's more energy in this space, you know I think it's easy to think That this is the kind of thing that's going to get put into the column of cost as we continue to uh Optimize as a result of technology right? That's We we continue to create these abstractions for communication, but I appreciate what you're doing by bringing this back the other direction and saying okay No, we do need to spend on this Uh, and perhaps we need to spend more now than we did before uh in this area. Yeah Yeah, thank you so much for having me and it's been a really good conversation and if anybody can can take something away from it I'd be happy Well, I'm definitely taking something away from it. I do have two questions that I want to ask you Uh, that I like to ask all of the guests who come on this show Uh, the first one is if you and I were to go and have a cup of tea And this is our first time, you know talking with just met What would you hope that I would ask you about? gosh, I I am kind of uh terrible LinkedIn stalker So I always like to know what people do um, but I find sometimes that it's not reciprocated and You know selfishly I think one of the more you know things that makes me more interesting is that I come from museums And so I love to talk about museums So I wish people would ask me more about that And you have this this formal background in museums That kind of so how does that affect Uh, the work that you're doing you know for example you do have this a conference that's coming up Can you talk a little bit about that? Yeah, and how your work in museums might be changing the way you think about conferences for yeah That's such a good point So when I worked in museums I was working in education So it's it's a little bit of an easy leap for what I'm doing now, but um I am all about like how can people learn what their hands or physically or or in a different time and space then sitting in a classroom And watching a PowerPoint because that's what museums are right I don't have to make you go to a museum So I have to figure out how to make something engaging and something that you want to partake in And that's what really fascinates me about museums and and to be honest, there's a lot of background stuff about the way things are organized and that that really Influences the way that I do the work I do today But as it relates to conferences too, it's really the experiential part. So I am running a conference called human school in February of 2018 And it is for new and budding HR and people operations people that could be an admin assistant It could be an operations manager Maybe you know somebody who got tasked with some HR stuff in their startup But they're not really sure how to do it and but they really want to do it with an eye toward humanity So that's that's what human schools for And the way that it's designed is actually a little bit different than many other conferences So it's one track everybody goes through the same set of Course it. I'm going to call them courses, but they're really workshops So they're very interactive people be getting up and moving around and learning things if they choose to partake that way And there are so many different avenues for engaging with it because I know that people Learned differently and they experience things differently And we're incorporating things like rest breaks and movement breaks and things that Well allow people to really show up and be their full self because we know that You know, just in the same way that if you're in an art gallery and you're tired because frankly It's kind of tiring to walk through a giant art museum There are benches there and you're supposed to sit on the bench, you know So It seems so simple, but right exactly sometimes I don't see them being sat on at all And it's like you know, you could just sit here and hang out with this art But I think that's how it influences human school And I'm really excited about it and excited to have a hundred budding HR professionals come in and learn how to do HR the more human way That is so exciting. I love this idea of designing things around the human experience a little bit more You know as developers we very often We kind of put that to the side as again labeling that cost right Um, that my ergonomics are Create more expensive things that I have to buy um a stand-up desk is is more expensive Then just a static sit-down desk of course it is right um, but but at the same time You know when we abstract that stuff away or when we try to say that it's not important Uh, there's effects that that's having on our work that we don't even necessarily we can't really measure it very easily Uh, and so and I love that you are uh, you're focused on this data driven approach too and that's so exciting Uh, to have somebody who's bridging that gap between you know What is very often kind of unfortunately Uh, displayed Uh, only from a opinion perspective right people should be this way because you know We value these things right well for most business owners just valuing something is not enough And having that data centered approach is you know bridging that gap between being more human With things like human school and also uh, accomplishing Business related value goals. That's such a good thing that you're doing there. That's that's exciting. Thank you Okay, so uh the the next question that I like to ask uh everyone who comes on this show is if you had 30 seconds And to give advice to developers of all backgrounds and all experience levels. Why would you tell them? I would tell them to onboard their peers So it's not often your job especially if you are not that person's manager Um, but take a minute and think about how they feel and um, the best way to do this that I can describe is Imagine walking into a lunchroom Um, being the only you know, you don't you don't know anybody there Um, and you're just you're just by yourself and you don't know which table to sit in Um, and I also have to apologize. We have uh six month old puppy who's coming in so she wants to talk about onboarding But we're sort of onboarding her to not bite our other dog um, but um, you know, just imagine what's it like to be that person and how could you share just like five minutes of information That could really help them Mm-hmm. Yeah, that's that is very Interesting and exciting and then quite honestly. I think a lot of people Um, they would be excited by this if they thought that they could do it and and I do think that some of that barrier To injury is is the problem here and really what it means is actually taking the initiative to say hey, you know what? This is important enough to me and I think it's going to be important enough to you That I want to talk about it. Exactly right it starts with that that first conversation of hey, you know I want to understand what you need. I want to understand Um, the things that you're experiencing as a new Uh, higher or as Even even somebody who's been here for a while, but you haven't been here as long as I have you know How can I help you Understand and work better on a day-to-day basis exactly exactly Okay, Kristen. Thank you so much for your time and uh, how can people connect with you find out more about human school and perhaps You know go ahead and set themselves up to attend Yeah, thank you so much. It's been an awesome conversation. I'm really I'm glad to be here So if you want to find more out about me you can go to And if you want to find more out about human school, you can go to What a great domain. I know I just loved that that's the thing We will also put links to that stuff in the show notes which you can find a spec. I found thank you so much Awesome. Thanks so much. Thanks so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Teaake sure you go and check out human school at And the other things that Kristen Galger is involved with Thank you so much for listening to today's episode Again, I'm going to challenge you if you fit that description that we talked about at the beginning of the episode of the driven developer I want you to subscribe. I want you to become a part of this community continue to engage this content and Reach out to me reach out to me if you feel like this is something that is meaningful to you If you want to share a story you can email me at Developer Tea at Or you can find me on twitter and at Developer Tea and at jcutrell for my personal twitter Thank you so much for listening Thank you again to linode for sponsoring today's episode of Developer TeaRemember you can get a excellent learning environment for the cost of basically a frappuccino per month It's extremely affordable to get started and on top of that It's extremely affordable to scale up to massive massive scales uh 16 gigabytes a ram a month for $60. It's unheard of so go and check out what linode has to offer to you Respect out of them slash linode Thank you again for listening to today's episode. Thank you to Kristen Uh, huge thank you to her for being a guest and until next time enjoy your tea