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Floor Drees
Floor Drees

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Feedback and hiring a diverse team, at the DevOps Eindhoven meetup

In anticipation of the October Devopsdays Eindhoven, we thought we should, well, meet up. Who are we? That would be me, and at least two of my co-conspirators: Daniel Paulus, and Jos van Schouten.

Rayta van Rijswijk and Floor Drees at the virtual DevOps Eindhoven meetup

February 15 we were joined, virtually, by Rob van Gansewinkel, Senior Front-end Developer and Scrum Master at Sendcloud. Rob talked about giving productive feedback, and the Conventional Comments framework.

We’re all familiar with the problem: it is easy to misinterpret written feedback. Between "WFH" and "Zoom fatigue" we all had to step up our written communication game. So did Sendcloud, the shipping platform headquartered in Eindhoven.

Rob: "Conventional Comments can be used in any kind of review or feedback process, including but certainly not limited to code reviews. It adds intent and importance to the comment."

Conventional Comments' standardized format contains a mandatory “label” and “subject”, as well as an optional “decoration” and “discussion”:


<label>([decoration]): <subject>
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An example then.

This is not worded correctly.

suggestion: This is not worded correctly.

nitpick (non-blocking): This is not worded correctly.

suggestion: This is not worded correctly.
Can we change this to match the wording of the marketing page?

Rob: "You’ll find that the last one helps you as the reviewer to provide clear and actionable feedback, limits the chance of startling the receiver, and results in shorter lead times in the overall feedback process."

Rob noticed that it’s easier to ask for reviews when everyone works in the same format. Adopting Conventional Comments has benefitted cross-discipline, and cross-team collaboration at Sendcloud.

Rayta van Rijswijk (@raytalks on Twitter), is an Engineering Manager at a FinTech, and a Microsoft MVP for Developer Technologies. Rayta talked about hiring and retaining a diverse team.

Organizations want to hire more diverse people to their teams, DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) is high up on the agenda. That may be because research shows that diverse teams perform better, are more productive, because it's the right thing to do, or because they want to create products that work for a broad (potential) user base. Or it's a combination of those arguments.

Rayta encourages hiring managers to diversify their network. Our networks are typically full with people that look like ourselves. People that look like us, talk like us, went to the same schools that we went to... Start with broadening your horizon and listen to the experiences from people in the industry that are different from your own experiences: #BlackTechTwitter, or #LGBTQtech.

Find other job boards than the ones you usually post to. Sponsor meetups and conferences that are targeted at a minority group. Coach and mentor junior candidates, for instance through a program like Hack Your Future.

If you're using a recruitment agency, make sure their team of recruiters is diverse, or that they're aware of your intention to build a diverse team. Write inclusive and accessible job descriptions, avoid bro-y or ableist language. Switch out "he" for "they" in your offer letter and contracts.

In the Q&A bit Rayta and I talked about how referral programs are likely only successful in terms of finding candidates from underrepresented minorities, when the people referring are from those groups as well.

What should we include or exclude from our job ads to not unintentionally push people away? Should we outline the recruitment process, the number of interviews, whether or not the candidate will have to go through an assessment, or get a take-home exercise? Should we post a salary range? Rayta is all for more transparency.

Rayta is on the fence whether ERGs (Employee Resource Groups) or SIGs (Special Interest Groups), or (mandatory) training on for instance on unconscious bias help make the workplace a more inclusive space. "It depends."

Watch the meetup recording, in full, on YouTube.

Save the date(s)

April 12 we'll host the next DevOps Eindhoven meetup, at the High Tech Campus Eindhoven. Sara Gerion, Senior Solutions Architect at AWS, will join us and talk about assessing the health of your microservices. Marcus Olsson, Senior Developer Advocate at Grafana Labs, will demo how to extend Grafana through plugins.

March 23, we'll meet up with the DevOps Amsterdam meetup. We'll be joined by Hidde de Vries, a front-end web developer and accessibility specialist. Also joining us is François Conil, Solutions Architect at on monitoring. And for the April 4 meetup, we'll be joined by Julie Gunderson, Senior Reliability Advocate at Gremlin, and a founding member and co-organizer of DevOpsDays Boise.

Devopsdays Eindhoven, will take place October 20-21, and Devopsdays Amsterdam, June 22-24. Both are :fingers-crossed: in-person events.

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