Let your team say “no” – and create better work


Let your team say “no” – and create better work

Stress kills. Here’s the proof.

And most of it can be avoided. But in the workplace, we put way too much emphasis on the task, and not the goal; on being busy rather than being successful. We say “yes” to more than we should, building our stresses.


Because we’re human. We’re social creatures, wired to please others and reap the rewards of acceptance. But if we say yes to everything, we’re probably going to start dropping the ball.

A lot.

This doesn’t just impact immediate performance – it knocks our confidence and chips away at our mental health. We become desk-bound, yes-bound and (for the bosses reading this) we become markedly less productive.

So, while you may want to hear a “yes” whenever you ask your team to do something, be aware that failing to say no wastes time, energy and resources. And it puts your team’s health at risk.

How do you solve this?

Make saying “no” part of your culture

If people at your company are too afraid to say no to you, then maybe you’ve got a culture problem – or at least, a personal branding and image problem. They’re seeing you as “The Boss”, not as a person they can be open with.

You can fix this with meaningful communication, levelling the playing field and stepping into a more human, leadership role than a “boss” one. Be kind, and show empathy; remember that we all come into the world the same way, and we all have to struggle with something. We’re all beautiful and flawed beyond our working personas.

Apply those rules to yourself, first and foremost. Be kind to you, or you can’t truly be kind to anyone else. You’re probably thinking “this is all very fluffy”. And yes, maybe it is – but this stuff actually works.

Self-compassion and kindness are the first steps to building confidence. Promote these principles at work, and you’ll have a team confident enough to say no to you – in a kind, compassionate and meaningful way.

Neglect this, and you’ll run several risks:

  • Everyone says yes to everything, even when they can’t do it
  • Mistakes start getting hidden – no accountability
  • Overwork and burnout, high turnover and churn
  • Awful morale
  • Poor performance
  • No understanding of your resource availability or lack of in-house skills

All of these are important points – but that last one’s of particular importance to us. If everyone in your company is saying yes, working miserable 70+ hour weeks in secret and they still can’t get the result, you’re about to learn that you need to hire. Problem is, you don’t have time anymore.

You can hire contractors to help; but wouldn’t it have been better if your team felt like they could raise this with you, long before it became a problem?

Teams: here’s how to say “no”

We’ve all been in a situation where our manager has asked for something, with a firm deadline. In all likelihood, you sighed and said “um” a few times, before eeking out a very sheepish “yes”.

And even if your manager has asked, in good faith, “are you sure?” – you’ve assured them, persuaded them, that you can. Even though it means sacrificing other projects or your own free time.

You take a deep breath and try to figure out how you’re going to cram it all in.

We’re willing to bet that you hit roadblocks, made mistakes, and generally felt really awful about that whole experience; even if you pulled it off. Most of the time, we don’t pull these projects off. We get called into meeting rooms, to explain that we bit off more than we could chew.


Imagine if you’d just said “no” – in a good, kind, meaningful way. With solutions, alternatives, workarounds. You and your manager would feel a whole lot better. You’d be able to find help or hire a contractor for the project. Success would have come at a far lower cost and risk.

So, how can you say no the right way, and be better off for it?

  1. Make it confident and constructive

Value yourself, be kind to yourself, make it positive. Focus on why you’re saying no – your integrity and quality of work, not workshyness.

  1. Give a clear reason

And keep it short. Show your work schedule, anticipate creeping tasks – give clear evidence that shows your availability isn’t open enough.

  1. Offer a solution

Can you aid the project in another way? Offer small but meaningful contributions that don’t see you taking on the whole project, but still add your expertise.

  1. Offer a person

If you know a teammate who’s better suited and has a clearer schedule, suggest them for the project – or refer freelancers that you trust.

  1. Be kind

Remember that “no” is going to be hard to hear. Even for the person running the show. Be understanding and empathetic. Try to see it from their angle: avoid accusatory language and “you/I” statements. Be thankful for being asked in the first place – and end it on a positive note.

Need a yes? Hire expert contractors

ClearHub specialises in finding the best Atlassian contractors – to fill skills gaps, relieve churn and reduce the chances of burnout. Want to know more? Get in touch with the ClearHub team today – call +44 (0) 2381 157811 or send your message to info@clearhub.tech. Let’s give your team the power to do more.

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The 4 most important DevOps metrics and how to use them


The 4 most important DevOps metrics and how to use them

When you’re working towards SMART goals, you’ve got to be able to measure the impact your efforts are having.

In fact, that’s what the M in SMART goals stands for.

In Agile teams and DevOps, measuring performance is critical to quantifying the impact of your team’s work. And, without measuring how things are today, it will be impossible to know whether all our hard work will actually make any difference in the future.

The same principles apply to fledgling startup teams and elite, high performance teams. Software teams need metrics to understand where they are now, how much has changed since project start, and how much more work needs to be done to reach the goal.

But what metrics do you need to actively monitor?

Well, the challenge isn’t typically figuring out what metrics to apply, but how to apply them.

Analytics within modern DevOps tools, like the Atlassian stack, collect reams of data – more than most teams will ever need to know. Getting it isn’t the problem; using it is where teams tend to struggle.

Let’s take a look at the 4 most popular DevOps metrics and how to use them meaningfully.

1. Lead time

In DevOps, the most critical metric is often speed.

How quickly is value delivered to the customer? How quickly can we patch, update, iterate, and improve?

Lead time or cycle time is the metric in question, here. Many companies fall at this critical hurdle, because while lead time is captured and analysed, it’s often not done accurately enough. This can be because:

  • The team doesn’t fully understand the value stream
  • An inaccurate value stream has been applied that ends before customer delivery

Lead time is probably the most important measure of a team’s ability to deliver when it comes to customer satisfaction. Make sure everyone on the project knows this, and what the end of the cycle is – so that it can be accurately tracked and logged.

It’s also important to measure trends in lead time. See where delays commonly occur, and implement optimised processes to improve project flow.

2. Deployment frequency

If lead time measures how fast a team can deliver, then deployment frequency measures how often.

This is also a direct measure of your team’s ability to respond rapidly to changing conditions; like resolving critical bugs or security issues.

This is a key metric for high-performing Agile and DevOps teams. At Amazon, their teams are able to deploy hundreds of software builds per day. While that level is unattainable for most development teams, they can still achieve a high level of operation and output without needing that kind of deployment frequency – it all depends on the expectations of users, customers and the platform itself.

However, rapid response to critical issues is a necessity. Prolonged downtime can mean customers are forced to adopt competitors – and once they’re gone, they’re not likely to come back any time soon.

Low deployment frequency can also cause users to leave, or stop new users coming on board: look at the state of slow play in the transition to Apple silicon, for example, where many professional users are either jumping ship for optimised platforms or holding back on software upgrades until native versions are released.

In some cases – like Dropbox – users are actively battling for native support to be prioritised.

Think about your user base and monitor the tech that’s using your software or web app (in fact, make this a bonus metric), so you can prioritise output where the data says it matters most. Don’t just give the squeaky wheel the grease, monitor the whole landscape.

3. Change failure rate

High deployment frequency looks great on paper – but if the quality isn’t up to standard, then what’s the point?

No matter how frequent, if the majority of deployments are unsuccessful, you’ll have unhappy users. The success to failure rate for software deployments can be extremely revealing – so track it diligently. This metric can offer critical insights into your team’s performance. Work towards a downward trend in failure rates – and if the reverse is true right now, see what’s consistently causing issues.

Communicate clearly with your team. Don’t be quick to blame; often, everyone is doing the best with what they have. Instead, offer support and find solutions to any problems they’re facing, to improve failure rate.

4. Average time to restore

No matter how elite, experienced or epic your team is – they’ll eventually fail at something. Deployment failures are inevitable, but they can be mitigated with robust rollback and contingency strategies in place.

Some deployments may benefit from automated rollback processes that shorten the time required to restore a service to customers. The ability to quickly rollback an update and minimise the impact to customers will give your team the confidence to deploy more frequently – because there’s less at stake if it goes wrong. Elite teams do this already; they make bold moves, and rollback to a previous iteration if it doesn’t work. But when it does – it’s hugely beneficial to their end result.

Good DevOps needs to be measured where it counts

Good DevOps needs meaningful metrics, to give insight into what is going on within the end-to-end flow.

You don’t need to monitor everything at once – and even this list of the 4 most important DevOps metrics isn’t absolutely vital for every organisation – start with one or two of the most impactful to your business and workflow, and grow from there.

A little is better than none at all.

The aim isn’t to become a perfect machine, where innovation stalls and creativity plateaus. The aim is to inspire continuous improvement, and to empower your team to reach the elite status of development faster.

And if you need the right talent to guide you – talk to ClearHub.

Hire the best DevOps consultants

ClearHub specialises in finding the best DevOps consultants in the world; vetted, skills-checked and ready to get results.

Want to know more? Get in touch with the ClearHub team today – call +44 (0) 2381 157811 or send your message to info@clearhub.tech.

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Gig Economy: The End of Employment?


Gig Economy: The End of Employment?

Change is human nature. Sometimes it’s powerful. At other times, subtle. Change can be painful, liberating, scary, exciting – or all of that, at once.

Regardless of how we perceive it, change is inevitable. Humans have experienced it throughout our tiny blip of cosmic existence, before the invention of anything.

12,000 years ago, the Neolithic revolution transformed human societies from hunter gatherer tribes, into farming communities. Slowly, we became experts of the land.

In the 1700s, the Agricultural Revolution ended the need for people to work the land. We gained powerful new tools.

Then came the Industrial Revolution. We gained power-driven machinery and factory production. We automated long, labour-intensive processes for the first time.

And progress from that point snowballed, and has done ever since.

Today, we live in an age of rapid transformation. Not centuries, or decades – not even years.

Welcome to the Technology Age – where the way work is in a constant state of transformation, with tidal waves of disruption.

“The size, speed and global nature of the current Information and Technology Age make all the previous revolutions seem like mere warning tremors.”

The Information and Technology revolution, like it’s slower, more localised predecessors, is fundamentally changing the nature of work, the structure of labour and the attitudes of employers and employees – both at home and at work.

We live in an age of change

The full implications are difficult to define, but several patterns can now be mapped with a degree of certainty.

And the timeline will include:

  • Artificial intelligence, with software robots replacing people in many jobs
  • Virtual and augmented reality – literally changing the way we see and interact with the world
  • The mass production of driverless vehicles, disrupting how we travel
  • Perhaps most important of all – the maturation of the gig economy

These areas, and the way that technology helps us to collaborate, will challenge the very nature of work itself.

Digital disruption has already transformed your life

The world of work has changed dramatically – especially over the last few years, as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold of the planet.

But long before Covid was forcing the hands of workers and employers, digital disruption was moving in the direction we all find ourselves travelling now: towards software-controlled, automation-heavy digital-over-physical interactions.

Digital disruption has blurred the boundaries between employment, contracting (freelance), remote work and digital staff.

Consider Uber’s influence in the Taxi industry, or AirBnB’s disruption of hotels. Or what about Amazon’s influence on traditional book stores, and commerce in general? Or the impact of Netflix on traditional television distribution?

But – it’s nothing new.

The term “Creative Destruction” was first coined by Joseph Schumpter way back in 1940, to describe the way technological progress improves the lives of many, at the cost of a few.

What is digital disruption?

Digital disruption is when new digital technologies and business models affect the value proposition of existing goods and services.

Artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and automation are shaping the future of the global workforce. Especially in relation to the gig economy.

A gig economy is one in which companies use freelance talent on frequent, short-term contracts.

In the UK alone, 7.25 million people are expected to be working in the gig economy in 2022.

By 2030, between 75 million and 375 million workers (3-14% of the global workforce) will need to switch occupational categories because of automation technologies that include AI and robotics, according to McKinsey.

The rise of the gig economy

The lines between traditional work and contracting are blurring daily.

You may Intuitively think you understand the differences between permanent and contact staff. But, on inspection, ask yourself: how many of these assumptions hold weight?

Do you assume that contractors are highly skilled specialists, used for short-term bursts of extremely focused work – whereas your full-time employees in it for the long haul?

I did too.

As the contractor market continues to grow, and entire sectors become disrupted by gig economy workers, these arguments do not withstand scrutiny.

The conclusions are fairly stark.

Employment vs full-time = £0

Once you add the costs of a person’s employment AND take into account the impact of hiring on the business, the cost savings versus contractors simply no longer exist.

Basically, this changes the very nature of a full-time workforce.

Imagine for a moment that your entire marketing team is made of contractors – used as and when you need them, to match their skills and your needs.

Even if you use the same contractors all the time, they’ll be no more expensive to the business than employing directly.

Over the next three years, the average casual workforce will grow by 30% – Beeline

In 2020, 2.2 million people in the UK were self-employed freelancers. With the onset of the so-called “Great Resignation”, that number is steadily rising, year on year.

Globally, with side hacks and casual work considered, the freelance workforce could make up to a third of the total workforce.

70% of organisations are looking to expand their external workforce, so if you’ve not yet been disrupted by contractors in your organisation, the current trend suggests it is just a matter of time.

The impact of the gig economy now

Deliveroo, Uber and other companies in their guise often become the focus of any conversation around the gig economy. And sure enough, those companies grew massively during coronavirus lockdowns – but it’s in tech and software development that the effects of the gig economy are being felt the most right now.

And this has triggered fresh innovations.

You can get the most from contract workers by making sure that your existing team and freelance talent work together, fast.

This was the realisation that led me to start ClearHub. I could see that managing directors needed:

  • A fast, safe solution
  • Guaranteed technical skills, for quality work
  • Someone who could fit into their existing team without disrupting productivity

I already had access to the Platinum-standard expertise through my company, and personal knowledge of building high-performing agile teams.

So, it was a logical step that we could use this combination to help other companies realise the benefits of the gig economy, with our expert guidance and support.

As non-traditional forms of talent continue to grow in importance, tech and software companies will need new strategies to attract and manage contractors and freelancers. That will mean implementing an entirely new approach – including knowing how to get contractors and staff to work together in complete harmony.

While you may already have some processes in place to help with this, the majority of companies have yet to fully embrace the gig economy.

That’s where we come in.

Welcome to the future of work

ClearHub specialises in finding the best Atlassian freelancers – the people who can propel businesses into the next phase of growth.

Want to know more about how the gig economy can work for you? Get in touch with the ClearHub team today – call +44 (0) 2381 157811 or send your message to info@clearhub.tech.

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