I submitted the following talk to two conferences:
How to change things at work: A guide to employee activism
Your company is doing something wrong. You’re shipping broken software, everyone is unproductive and unhappy, and nobody seems to be doing anything about it.
As a mere employee, how do you change this?
I haven’t had much luck at this in the past, but I’d like to have more luck in the future, and I’d like to help others have more luck than I did. So I’ve been doing what any sensible nerd does when confronted with a difficult problem: Reading the literature and thinking a lot.
I’d like to tell you a bit about what I’ve thought and read, some of the things that I’ve done wrong, and how I think we can all do it better.
I then promptly had a panic attack over it. I am approximately the worst (ok, say lower 40%) qualified person to talk about this, but the problem is that near as I can tell nobody else is doing it.
Then I kicked myself.
One of the major points I want to make in this talk is that trying to change things as an individual will basically get you nowhere. The first step of trying to change things is to try to find people who want to change them with you.
So, uh, why on earth am I trying to solve this problem by myself rather than with other people?
Lets do that then. I’ve created a slack team for discussing these issues: makingworkbetter.slack.com.
The major topic of discussion is trying to figure out concrete steps that you can use to improve your work environment in whatever way you see fit, that do not require you to have a managerial mandate to make changes. However adjacent subjects are very much welcome too, and there are channels for more general discussion.
Also, this is very much not just for developers. That’s where my background lies, but I want this to be a discussion for people from every walk of life, regardless of whether you’re a developer or not, or even of if you work in technology at all! Everyone is welcome.
Instructions for sign up at the end, but read this first:
Code of Conduct
This community is an inclusive space, and everyone in it is expected to abide by a code of conduct.
Firstly, Chatham House Rule applies: Participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speakers, nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.
But beyond that, you are expected to behave in an appropriate manner for the space. At the high level, appropriate behaviour is:
While it is impossible to enumerate everything that is unkind, disrespectful or unhelpful, here are some specific things that are definitely against the code of conduct:
- -isms and -phobias (e.g. racism, sexism, transphobia and homophobia) are unkind, disrespectful and unhelpful. Just don’t.
- Being part of a broken system is not a moral failing. Help people fix their systems, don’t blame them for it.
- It’s OK not to know things. Everybody was a beginner once, nobody should be made to feel bad for it.
- It’s OK not to want to know something. If you think someone’s question is fundamentally flawed, you should still ask permission before explaining what they should actually be asking.
- Note that “I was just joking” is not a valid defence.
Additionally we have a no part time assholes rule. If your behaviour outside this community makes people uncomfortable in it, you may be banned even if your behaviour within the community has been exemplary.
If you have any problems with anyone violating these rules, feel free to point them out to the person in question if you wish to but also please let me (drmaciver) know by private message on slack.
Moderation response will depend on the behaviour. Mild violations will just get a warning and a request to change, but severe violations or patterns of behaviour will be banned.