The best README for anyone I am lucky enough to manage.
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README.md

README.md

As Your Manager

I’m excited to get to know you more organically through chats! Here are a few initial thoughts about my philosophies that might be helpful.

I’m here to help and support you. I will work to set context for what we're working on, and to advocate for you and the team within our larger organization.

About This Doc

  • We'll learn more about each other over time. This is just a start.
  • This document applies only to me, and in no way should be read to apply to any other group or manager, anywhere.
  • Part of having this be known is so that you can hold me accountable. If you see a discrepancy between this and my behavior, please tell me.
  • If you report to me (directly or indirectly), you have edit rights to this document.
    • That's intentional.

My Job

As the Director of Engineering, I believe I'm working for you as well as for the rest of the organization. I do that by:

  • Setting context around your work
  • Retaining and growing the talented individuals on our team

Because I am measured by our team’s ability to deliver value to the customer and business, it is in my best interest to provide necessary context around your work. Context can mean a variety of things: providing technical guidance, pair programming, clarifying how our work aligns with the business goals. My goal is to do whatever I can to help you grow as a human, developer, and employee, in that order.

You have final say on the work you own. I trust you to gather necessary information to make the best decision to move the company forward. I will always, and gladly, help set context by providing background, resources, and my own opinions. I have a lot of opinions, but this does not mean they are correct at face value or that by disagreeing you are doing something wrong.

Growth

I want to provide you with slightly-more-challenging work than you feel capable. I strongly believe in the Growth Mindset. It is fine to not understand a particular task. I can help by providing context. It is not okay to believe that you will never be able to understand it.

On my end, I am very happy to spend time clarifying technical concepts to you. My goal is for you to fully understand the tools and approaches we're taking to solve problems. I understand that people have their own ways of learning and I am flexible to help you learn in the way that works best for you.

Communication

My preferred medium for communication (in order of decreasing importance): Call > Text > IM (during work) > Email. Face-to-face in-person (or in-video) is always the highest bandwidth, and I am very amenable to it. I generally answer email once in the morning and maybe once in the evening. When in-person is not available, I prefer getting big ideas over email.

I will try very hard not to talk to you about work things outside of work hours (~8am to ~6pm). I am big on work/life balance.

Unless I clearly indicate that it's an emergency, and I contact you outside of those hours, feel free to ignore me until the next day. All of this is just for me contacting you, not being on-call or being paged by production systems.

If You Want to Talk, I Want to Talk

I do a bunch of different things here. Very few of them are more important than spending time talking with you if you want to talk with me. Feel entirely free to put time on my calendar to talk whenever you want. Feel entirely free to pull me aside or message me during the day and we can grab a room, real or virtual.

On Candor

I will work to be as open as possible about what’s going on with our team, department, and the company. This company may require me to not tell you about something before a certain date (e.g. unapproved budgets). This happens very very infrequently. This company cannot require me to lie to you. That's never happened, and I've never been asked to do so. If asked, I would not do so.

I bias toward transparency and candor. You can ask anything. I will work so that you don't have to ask.

Personal Quirks

  • I may seem "in the zone" a lot when working. I am always ready to help set context.
  • I dance a lot at my desk.
  • There are few things that make me happier than seeing a heated debate, as long as later on that day people still enjoy their time together.
  • It may seem strange, but I will encourage you to debate with me.
  • I will often ask for moment-to-moment feedback that you are following the context as we walk through a problem. This is not a reflection on you, but just on my desire to explain everything fully.

One on Ones (1:1s)

I think these individual chats are incredibly valuable. We will start off with high frequency, long length one on ones. You get to figure out if/when/how you want to taper them off. We probably won't go beyond 2 weeks between each one, though.

Our one on one meetings are for you. They are not for status updates, unless you really want to update status. Come prepared with questions, topics, anything you want. I will always have topics, time permitting.

I want our one on one to be a safe place; if this isn't the case please tell my manager.

Feedback

I love getting feedback. I believe feedback is critical to your success here, and mine.

Feedback should be aimed at a behavior by a person(s), not the person. Please give the feedback as quickly as possible. Timely feedback provides a tighter feedback loop while also avoiding memory distortions.

Three dimensions are required for people to continue giving feedback:

  • Safety
    • Unlikelihood of being punished for giving feedback
    • This should be high.
  • Effort
    • The amount of work in order to give feedback, also known as "how much do you argue when people give you feedback?"
    • This should be low.
  • Benefit
    • How likely is it that giving this person feedback will materially impact their behavior?
    • This should be high.

Let me know if I don't do well on any of these dimensions, and I will do the same.