What is this?
This is an introduction to me and our working relationship.
This document is a work in progress and will change as the needs of the team change.
Why am I here?
To build a world-class engineering team.
I want our engineering blog to be bookmarked like that of Netflix/Twitter/Etsy. That means my expectations of myself, the team, and you are going to be high.
How I plan to help you
Be your connection to the world outside the team
That means I provide context from the broader company and industry to the team. That means working with product managers, our sales team, customer service and sometimes the customers themselves to better understand what problems are the most valuable for us to solve. It means working with vendors and engineers (internally and externally) to surface more information and new technology that can help us solve our problems.
And I advocate for you, the team, and our work to others at the company and beyond. That means celebrating your successes every chance we get. It might mean that I put you in a position to advocate for yourself and/or our team by presenting at meet-ups and conferences.
Asking a TON of HARD questions
I’m a big believer in Socratic Questioning and rubber duck debugging. That means I try not to give advice or orders unless you explicitly ask for it. Instead, I ask a lot of questions to get to the heart of the topic.
I believe that you probably already know the answer and it’s my job to help you find it.
How you can help me
- Build great (platform) software - pragmatically practice your craft to deliver reusable, easy-to-use, valuable features
- Be curious - don’t be satisfied with understanding what’s on the surface; ask tough questions.
- Assume that everyone has a positive intent - we all want each other and this company to be awesome and make our decisions based on what we think is best.
- Compassionately disagree with me - the times I’ve been most satisfied with my work was at the other end of a healthy debate.
- Tell me when I screw up - I learn best by trying, failing and trying again.
- Hold each other accountable - for both the good and the bad.
- Take action/take control - don’t wait for things to happen, get to work and make them happen.
- Check your ego at the door - there’s always something to learn from the person sitting across from you; what is it?
About life & work
I believe its important to have a work-life balance. I might work at night and on the weekends but I don’t expect you to. If I chat/email you at night or on the weekend, don’t feel compelled to rush to read and act on it. You’re free to text/call me - day or night - for anything, but I’ll only contact you after hours as a last resort. If I call/text, it’s probably important - like the business depends on you picking up - so please do.
What do I value?
- Critical thinking
- Self awareness
Here’s how we’ll communicate, in (my) preferred order:
- Documentation - write it down and circulate it. Preferably in a medium that supports inline comments and dialog - i.e. on the company wiki or in a Google Doc.
- Face-to-face - in-person preferred, but video chat if that’s not possible
- Text/call - if you need me immediately-ish for a face-to-face
- Email/Slack - if there’s something you need but it can wait a bit. I’ll respond within 24 hours (unless I’m on vacation), but usually within 3.
I try to be considerate of your time when scheduling meetings so as to give you uninterrupted time to allow you to get into deep, creative, flow states. But you don’t need to do that for me. Part of my job is to be “interrupted” by you so I can get you what you need, when you need it. I schedule meetings with other managers at the start of the week to make sure we’re on the same page through the rest of the week. I schedule meetings with individual contributors at the end of the week, to let you use your energy at the start of the week doing what you do best: creating.
My calendar is always up-to-date and public and you’re free to schedule time over any open block without asking permission. Can’t find an open block? Chat/email me as I can likely move stuff around.
Things to include in the meeting notes:
- the goal of the meeting (don’t be surprised if I reject the meeting because this is missing)
- any related material so I can review before and come prepared with questions
1-on-1s are probably the most important thing I do - nothing beats personal, private, face-to-face communication. You set the agenda - this is time I’m dedicating to you to talk about anything and everything you want. But don’t wait for a 1-on-1 to talk about something, especially if its urgent.
Everything you say to me during our 1-on-1 stays between us unless
- it threatens the business - i.e. something illegal or against our code of conduct happens
- I clear it with you to bring it up with others
You are free to miss them or move them without consulting me, but I will be there unless you’ve explicitly allowed me to reschedule them in advance.
If you have nothing to talk about, I can fill the time - most often by using you as a sounding board or asking for feedback on my own performance.
You should feel safe both in giving and receiving feedback. I want you to be happy and fulfilled at work because I think that leads to you achieving your fullest potential so any feedback I provide is to help you get there. I also want the same thing for myself and believe you have a unique perspective to help me get there - so lay it on me! I try to provide feedback as close to real-time as possible (context is everything) - I ask that you do also. I try to provide positive feedback/congratulations in public, and constructive criticism in private.
Feedback should follow the Three C’s
Where do you stand?
I like to keep things simple by following a Green/Yellow/Red status. (Subject to company performance evaluation guidelines)
Since feedback should be regular, you shouldn’t be surprised by your status. I have high expectations of you - probably higher than other managers would. This is a good thing as we’ll continue to push to grow together.
And just so you know, a Yellow/Red status is still recoverable. I actually want you to climb back into the Green. That shows a maturity and breeds trust that you can receive feedback and take action.
Your career development
Ultimately, you’re the only one responsible for your career development. Some companies that I have worked/you might work at have managers that won’t take time to develop their reports. Fortunately, I do care about your development. I want to see you take on bigger challenges and produce better results - maybe even get promoted or transferred into a new role - like mine!
That said, your development is still on you. You need to tell me how you want your career to grow and I’ll continue to try to set you up with opportunities to make that happen. But you’ll have to reach out and seize them - we won’t wait for you.
Sometimes the best way for you to grow is to leave the company, and that’s ok! I sincerely hope that’s not the case, but don’t be afraid to tell me if you think so. At the least, I’ll support you in whatever you decide - by acting as a reference or providing advice in an as-unbiased-as-possible way.
Other stuff you should know about me
My priorities are, in order:
- my family
- my team
- the company
Don’t get me wrong, I really want to see the company succeed, but I believe the first step in that happening is for me to have a high functioning team. And while I’m extremely passionate about my job, when all’s said and done, it is a means to provide for my family.
Working code wins arguments
Working code > A written plan > A spoken idea/argument
I’ll always favor a POC over a plan over someone’s opinion. So if you think something should be a certain way, then put pen-to-paper and finger-to-key.
INTJ/Type 5 (The Investigator)
I’ve tested as an INTJ on the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator and an Enneagram Type 5 (The Investigator). Feel free to use that information to whatever end it helps our relationship. While I don’t like being put in a box or labeled, I’m definitely an introvert and interacting with people all day can wear me out. If I’m quiet, it probably means I’m absorbing everything and thoroughly contemplating what I’ll say before I say it.
Current personal mantras
- Think Big; start small.
- Leave it better than you found it.
- Work smarter before working hard…but still work hard.
- I know one thing; that I know nothing.