In everything I do as your manager/leader, my goal is to help you do your best work. I want you to reach your potential and will do my best serve you as well as I can. This is document should give my current team and potential candidates a view into how I work and what I view as being important.
My Average Week
My calendar is open to you!
My calendar is generally going to be slammed with meetings. You can book time as you need it! My calendar is up completely up to date except for ad hoc meetings and emergencies. Between 1:1s if you need to talk, please set something up.
One on one meetings
To me, 1:1s are not something that is optional. If we do these well, they will not be a waste of either of our time and might just be the most valuable thing we do all week. I do think you should own the agenda and have the permission to take priority over anything I want to talk about. These meetings should not be status meetings, but instead meetings to talk about performance and goals. For local employees, if the weather is nice, I do enjoy walking 1:1s. For remote employees, I absolutely enjoy video as it gives us another dimension of each other. It also prevents us from being distracted. The length, frequency, and medium are also up to you, but my hope is that for those that directly report to me that we’ll have at least 30 minutes every other week. This is only a minimum though, and not a maximum! We will also track a shared running agenda in Lattice that we both can contribute to.
If I need to talk to you in more depth about specific projects, I will set up another discussion or ensure we work through anything you feel is of value first during our 1:1. Bottom line, this is your time.
For those that report to another manager, I will do my best to schedule skip level meetings but this can sometimes be a challenge. Do not be a stranger and ask to connect!
- I believe everyone should prepare for meetings. It makes for the best use of everyone’s time. I spend a considerable amount of my time preparing for meetings, I ask that you do the same!
- Meetings should start on time. I understand things come up, just communicate if you are going to be late. Don’t make it a habit.
- Each meeting should have a clear purpose and agenda. If you schedule a meeting, make sure you communicate the purpose and agenda ahead of time.
My view of your calendar
I know the value of giving engineers and creatives valuable work blocks to do their best work. I also understand how detrimental task switching can be to being productive. If I put a meeting on your calendar and you need to reschedule, it is not a problem! Also, you have the responsibility of your calendar. I am flexible, but if you are not getting your work done and taking off a bunch of time, we might have a harder conversation.
Weekend and nights, I love my job. I will respond to e-mails or slack during off-hours and under no circumstances expect you to, unless it’s an emergency.
My calendar is always up to date. I will also put my PTO and travel schedule in my week in review. As a way to personally grow, I take 1 day a month of PTO to focus on goal setting and track progress. I call this Tommy’s Day and it is typically the first Friday of the month.
What is important to me?
DFIUFEE – Don’t f*** it up for everyone else
- To clarify: you’re here because of your experience and your skills and I don’t want to override either of those. I’m here to help you succeed but not dictate how you should act.
- I at a fault will be flexible with you and your time. I do have high expectations of the work you produce and how you support your fellow teammates so use your best judgment with how you utilize that flexibility.
- I by default trust you. Do your best to protect that trust by just being an awesome person.
- If I think you’re headed down the wrong path, I’ll definitely try to dissuade you, but disagreeing with my input does not indicate that you’re doing something wrong.
My Ideal Team Player
I am stealing this concept from Patrick Lencioni, but I look for team member’s that are Humble, Hungry, and Smart (I don’t mean intellectual, I mean “people smart”). You cannot just be 1 of the 3 or even 2 of the 3. I need my team to be high functioning and each person should strive for all three otherwise you have a toxic mix. This diagram below shows it well. I would encourage everyone to read “The Ideal Team Player”.
Process and Software Development
I strongly believe in putting people over process and changing process to accommodate our needs and goals. I’ve worked with and without Agile, with and without a form of Scrum. At the end of the day, these are my values:
- I value transparency about what’s happened, what’s happening, and what’s going to happen.
- I value speed, including proactive efforts that keep us moving quickly (e.g. writing tests, refactoring legacy code before a new feature, pairing on work to improve our code quality and bus factor). I believe these things should be made part of your daily/weekly workflow.
- I value learning and know that training up on a tech stack may not always be the fastest route to production.
- I value your time and don’t want you to do any process that is neither beneficial to you nor required by law, policy, etc.
- I value action and hitting commitments. If you want to impress me, get some work done!
I strongly believe that there should be multiple options for career growth for engineers. Moving into management is not always the best option for you or our company. Sometimes it is! No one should ever feel that they have to become “a manager” to get promoted. I believe in creating a career path that is more than just moving from a junior to a mid to a senior, to a lead. I challenge that there should be a clear growth progression from an entry-level hire all the way up to someone who is a leading expert in the industry that is teaching, writing, and speaking at conferences. I will work with you to help you identify where you are in the progression and also help you achieve your goals.
I do not believe you should be promoted based on how long you have been here, but instead the type and quality of work you contribute.
Feedback is very important to me
In situations where anonymous feedback is suggested, you’ll probably hear me suggesting that you provide direct feedback, though anonymous feedback is better than none. I’m dedicated to giving you clear and timely feedback and hope that you’ll give me the same. I believe that feedback requires three attributes:
- Safety (you should feel safe to give and receive candid feedback)
- Effort (neither you nor I should feel defensive about the feedback)
- Benefit (giving/receiving feedback should have an impact)
Please let me know if I’m doing poorly on any of these attributes. I’ll return the favor!
I’m big on work/life balance integration
First, I think keeping a work/life balance is an exhausting and impossible task. I think work and live ebb and flow and you should never force them to completely balance. I think it is just important to identify when one is taking too much priority over a period of time and taking from the other.
Most folks work between about 8am (at the earliest) to 6pm (at the latest), and unless there’s an emergency, I don’t expect to communicate with you outside of these hours with respect to your local time.
Leadership Crazy Cycle
I hate just being busy but if I am not careful, it happens to me. I do everything I can to avoid the leadership crazy cycle (aka being busy). I believing being busy is not productive. Many people get their value in being busy and I want to avoid that. To combat this, every day I make a list of my “big 3” items that I want to accomplish during that day.
We work with technology and things can often break. When something is on fire to the point that it kills my schedule, I will let you know. I will probably miss most of my normal obligations but I will try to let you know once I anticipate being out of that mode.
Expectations and Hardlines
I am not the most organized person. It is exhausting for me and a lot of work to make sure my life is systemized. I will probably drop a “todo” from time to time. Just politely remind me and I will make sure I have it on my personal Trello board.
I want to protect with a passion the concept that good people should be able to work with good people. I also have a core belief that we should all have the ability to work for a good manager.
I want you to tell me about problems (don’t bottle them up or hide them), but I will ask you for solutions. We all have a limited amount of time, so they might not be immediately solved (based on priority) but I want to still know about them, and quickly. Bad news does not get better with time!
Gossip ain’t going to happen. If you like to gossip, you probably won’t enjoy working for me.
I am going to make mistakes but I will do my best to admit it.
Sometimes I get distracted in meetings, call me out.
Slack is not always the best way to communicate. Sometimes in person, video, email…Communicate important things like commitment dates at least 7 times.
Commitments are important to me. Dates, dates, dates.
I care about having a good relationship with you and also with you having good relationships with everyone on the team.
I hope this gives you a clear view of how I operate as your manager!