A crash course on what to expect if I'm your tech lead
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LICENSE.md
README.md

README.md

Hi, I'm Molly

I'm looking forward to getting to know you, and this document is not intended to replace or override the relationship and mutual understanding we will build as we work together. Its intention is to give you an idea of how I think and how I work.

My role as a tech lead

TL;DR: I am here to make sure our team is successful, happy, and working on the things that are most important to help our customers, improve our product, and improve our business. More granularly:

  1. I am here to make sure you are both successful and happy: I want you to improve your technical skills, grow your career, enjoy your work, and believe in both our team's and our company's mission.
  2. I am here to make sure our team is successful and pointed in the right direction. You might hear Dharmesh talking about aligning vectors: I am here to make sure our team is all aligned and pushing in the same direction.
  3. I am here to make sure our team is getting what we need from other teams, and that other teams are getting what they need from us.
  4. I write some code too 😃

These are in approximate order of importance. If you are not successful and happy, our team is not successful (or happy). If our team is struggling, writing code will most likely not be my top priority.

Additionally: My job is not to tell you exactly what to do and how to do it. It is also not to be the "official decision maker" for our team. I might have thoughts on your code, and I expect you to have thoughts on mine. In the end, you own your code and if you have a good reason for doing something, you should do it. When I asked some other people for feedback on this README, one asked about this point, and then said something I thought was poignant: "I am accountable for the decisions the team make, even if I’m not the one making them most of the time."

Feedback

If you have feedback for me, please give it. It could be something you liked and would like to see more of, something you thought I could do better, something you thought I totally screwed up, or something that doesn't fit in any of these categories. Even if you think it might not be the case, I do want to hear it. And if you think I don't want to hear it, I'd love feedback on why you feel that way.

If you can give me this feedback in-person, I'd prefer that. If you're only comfortable kicking off a discussion with an email or a Slack message, I would rather you do that than not bring it up at all.

If you're not comfortable giving me this feedback yourself, I'd love for you to give it to someone above me in the management chain so they can anonymously relay it to me and I can work on it.

Schedule

I am usually in the office between 11am and 6pm.(note) I am often in the office earlier or later, but with some exceptions these tend to be the hours you can count on finding me. I do usually work from home once or twice a week (more on that later) and I often will head home around 5:30 or 6 and continue working from home after I get dinner going.

As for your schedule: do what works for you, but use good judgment. If you're a night owl and you choose to work from 9pm to 5am, that might not work so well. But if you're a night owl who would rather be in the office closer to 11am–7pm, or a morning person who'd rather be in closer to 7am–3pm, that is fine with me. Same goes for if you're trying to avoid rush hour, need to drop off your kids at school or daycare, etc.

Similarly, if you want to work from home sometimes, do so. Working from home at least once a week is pretty much a necessity for me, and if it helps your work, please do so as well. On the other hand, if you're not productive when you work from home, or if you can't be available for video meetings when you work from home, come in to the office. Regardless of whether the rest of the team is working from home or not, you can expect a normal day—schedule meetings etc. as normal—videoconferencing means folks who work from home will be similarly available as if we were in the office.1 One caveat is one-on-ones: I prefer to do these in person if possible, so if you need to work from home on a day we're scheduled for a one-on-one and rescheduling is an option, please let me know so I can reschedule it, or reschedule it yourself during an open slot in my calendar.

One-on-ones

I will put some time on your calendar each week for one-on-ones. Chances are it will be for 30 minutes once a week. If you need more time, let me know and I will adjust.

One-on-ones are your time. I will probably have some things to discuss with you, but these are your opportunities to let me know how you're doing, what you need, what you wish could be different, how you feel about our team and your teammates, what your career goals are... etc. These are for the conversations you might not necessarily have with me when we're sitting at our desks amongst coworkers. If you'd like to give me a brief status update on things you're working on, that is fine with me, but those are generally better-suited to a quick chat while I'm at my desk, an @ on a Github issue, or a Slack message.

I encourage you to write down some things you want to chat about ahead of time, because they can be hard to think of or bring up in the moment. If you struggle with bringing them up, feel free to send me a vague agenda ahead of time. If you don't know what to talk about, say so. We can use that as a topic.

These are some interesting articles I've read about one-on-ones, though I don't necessarily agree with all of the points: 1, 2. If you have thoughts on either, that might make a good topic to include in a one-on-one.

Work–life balance

I strongly believe in a healthy work–life balance. This can mean a lot of things: coming into the office a little late because you're a zombie before 10am (guilty...), leaving by 5pm so you can pick your kids up from daycare, not being on call some days because of your religion, taking time off to maintain your health, etc.

Let me know if you need any help to make this work. I don't want you working ridiculous hours, and I don't want you working at the expense of your family/health/beliefs/etc.

If you are unhappy, please let me know.

Performance

I will give you feedback on how you're doing in our one-on-ones. If I'm worried about your performance, I will let you know. If you worry that I'm worried about your performance, please let me know.

If you need something

Some weeks, my schedule can be pretty full. Other weeks it's not so bad. If you need to chat, you have a few options.

  1. Snag me at my desk. An important thing to know about me: if I have headphones on, it does not mean I am "in the zone" or expect not to be interrupted (I'm probably just enjoying some music). Feel free to grab my attention (preferably by waving in my periphery or tapping my desk—I get a little startled sometimes if someone unexpectedly taps me 😐) If I'm about to have to run off for a meeting or somesuch, I'll let you know and figure out a better time to chat.
  2. Slack me or email me. Even if you want an in-person meeting, just message me to let me know you want to talk and I'll make time. If you would rather talk about something over email or message, that's fine too.
  3. Throw something on my calendar. If I am scheduled for an interview or something else I can't reschedule and you invite me to a meeting, I may chat with you and reschedule. If you see that I've blocked off the day as a "meeting-free day", that does not apply to you—it's more to discourage folks from scheduling non-urgent meetings that day that could be scheduled otherwise. If you need to talk, schedule over this as much as you need.

Diversity, and also my schedule

Diversity and inclusion are extremely important to me. I would not necessarily mention this in my README, except that it ties in a bit with my schedule: I choose to work from home once a week if possible (sometimes twice, or for half-days) because it helps me manage my anxiety disorder, which I prefer to be open about. This will not affect our working relationship–I will be available on Slack, email, or Github regardless of whether I am in the office or not.

Caveat

Take this document with a grain of salt: I wrote it! I have never experienced having me as a manager. If I'm your TL and something here seems off, open a pull request or issue, or (probably more comfortably) bring it up to me in one-on-one or over Slack.

Notes

1. Caveat here is if you're hoping to meet with folks in offices on different time zones—if that's the case, you should try as much as you can to find a meeting time that works for both time zones.