Engineers moving into leadership sometimes have a hard time navigating the increased demands for meetings. And when meetings waste your time, or go off the rails, it hurts your team’s productivity and even affect their ability to work together. How can you make meetings better? In her talk, “Three Ways to Grow Your Happiness in Meetings,” Marcy Swenson offers great strategies for making meetings vital and worthwhile.
Humans are inconsistent and unpredictable by nature. This can come in the form of conflicting requests from upper management or from engineers who want to change teams only to want to quickly change again. Our job as leaders is to accept that fact and deal with the consequences.
“If someone tells you that you are an irritating boss, that is a huge gift they are giving you…”
As a leader, you have the responsibility to develop individuals on your team. One of the ways to move an employee forward is to gain insight on their thoughts about their place on the team. But how do you gain this insight?
We have seen progress, but still have a long way to go before we reach gender parity in leadership. There is a constant stream of new content reminding us that this is a problem, but rarely do we see comprehensive research and actionable advice.
Kelley RobinsonEngineering Team Lead, Optimization
Giving feedback is easy. Giving constructive, actionable feedback is not. In this talk, Tasneem Minadakis, Head of Rider Growth at Uber, draws upon her 12+ years in the industry to teach you how to do just that, laying out a framework you can use to provide more valuable feedback.
As a manager, how do you decide what to spend your time on each day?
Cynthia Maxwell, Director of iOS Engineering at Slack provides a framework for how managers should focus their time. As a mom, maintaining a healthy work-life balance is important to her, and the framework she’s developed aims to do just that.
“It’s a lot easier to loosen up some of the structure over time than it is to later go back and inject it.”
Engineering onboarding has become more important as many companies rapidly scale their engineering teams. Companies are starting to realize how much they are missing out by not having their new engineers be productive as soon as possible, instead of relying on ad-hoc methods to bring people up to speed.
“People don’t get opportunities to grow in accordance with their potential, they get it in accordance to where they happen to be standing.”
Everyone has heard about, in some form or another, the model of growth where you alternate between your comfort zone and stress zone and eventually attain a zig zag path of upward growth. But what actually helps people grow?
Being a great leader is a difficult job. While not impossible, it certainly feels that way at times. Many leaders have received little to no formal management training and getting started can seem overwhelming. Michael Lopp, VP of Engineering at Slack, lays out a set of sixteen hacks you can use to make the job a little bit easier.
We are so pleased to share with everyone the talks from the 2016 Calibrate conference for engineering managers. Those who attended Calibrate this year had the benefit of asking questions, talking with each other, and chatting with speakers throughout the day. What we’re bringing to you now is the content from that day; something we’d like to share with all new engineering managers, everywhere.
At first glance, achieving happiness and effective engineering leadership don’t seem to have much in common. Marcy’s talk and my personal experience working with her as an executive coach, have proven that these concepts coincide.
“While I have not had the privilege of managing any engineers, I often find myself leading engineers in various capacities.” This is why I found Cornelia Davis’s presentation “On Management and Leadership” so impactful. Cornelia is a Senior Director of Platform Engineering at Pivotal working on the Cloud Foundry team. In her 25 years of experience, she has probably managed “less than she can count on [her] two hands”, but she exudes leadership qualities. Cornelia simplified her approach to leadership into seven easily digestible concepts. All the concepts are great, and I picked my top three to dig into.
In her Calibrate talk “Paying Down Cultural Debt” Carbon Five’s Sonya Green explores the ways we confuse culture with culture’s byproducts. Rock walls, artisanal beer tastings, and dog-in-the-office policies may reflect aspect of culture, but they aren’t the thing itself. Culture, as Green explores, is the way workers talk to each other, treat each other, and make their most important decisions.
As a manager, developing the team is now one of your responsibilities, and you’ve decided, based on the research, that you want that team to be diverse. From sourcing diverse candidates into your pipeline to facilitating an inclusive work environment for your minority reports, Megan Anctil, an Operations Engineer at Slack, provided some excellent recommendations at Calibrate for building a diverse team.
Kelley RobinsonEngineering Team Lead, Optimization
Sangeeta Narayanan runs an engineering team at Netflix where she’s worked for five years. She spoke at Calibrate 2015 about her experience getting and giving feedback, both good and bad. She took the approach that giving feedback is a muscle like any other that needs to be trained and maintained.
Getting new hires productive as quickly and smoothly as possible is one of the most important jobs for an engineering leader. Too often this gets left to chance or to a “sink-or-swim” philosophy, even at larger companies. Speaker Peter Kinmond’s talk outlines why it’s important to create and refine an engineering onboarding program and explains how to design one from scratch.