Forced Marriages and Other Out There HR Ideas

I hate the fact that I turned 40 a couple weeks ago and now find myself thinking I sound like a curmudgeon on occasion. After all, 40 is hardly the prime age for the nay-sayer, right?

I love “out there” ideas and random experiments, especially when it comes to recruiting/developing people to maximize performance. But, this one just strikes me as … well … creepy.

Monday’s Wall Street Journal featured an article entitled “Computer programmers learn through tough lesson in sharing.” If you didn’t see it, have a look. Here is the gist: In an effort to reduce programming errors, companies are “pairing” developers together to conduct a constant, real-time code review. Sounds logical until you realize they are literally sharing a desk and a monitor. Yes, one developer sits behind the other and watches over their shoulder as code is written. As errors are found they are immediately spotted (so goes the theory) and remedied.

Technology companies always lead on the innovation front, in products and also business practices so I really love this attempt to accelerate the release cycle. But, there are some questions that failed to be asked like …

What if having a forced workplace “marriage” doesn’t fit their work style?

While this may help “procedural performance” (enhance the process) what will happen to individual performance?

Knowing how to manage effectively to get the best possible performance means knowing your people and what makes them succeed. For certain developers (or any staff for that matter) this may be perfect. But for those more solitary types (imagine that, a developer being an introvert) turnover and decreased performance will be the outcome.

Keep the experiments going. There is nothing like trying a new approach and seeing if you can move faster/better/whatever, but keep the people in mind. Performance increases through a happier, more productive and engaged team. You get that by understanding your people and managing to their strengths.




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