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Manager README - Rory

This is...

  • A quick way for you to get to know me
  • FAQs about me
  • Some expectations on what you can depend on from me

This isn't...

Laying out

  • My expectations for you
  • My plans for our organization and its products

I'm new to this role. I don’t know much yet.

Who am I?

I live in Yorkshire.

I'm originally from a little village called Dollar, near Stirling, in Scotland. This means I have a funny accent which you may find hard to understand. My accent gets thicker when I (a) have been home on holiday or (b) am very angry.

How did I get here?

A potted history:

  • PHP developer (briefly, building custom CMS systems)
  • Java developer (Graham Technology in Glasgow; HPI in Harrogate)
  • Agile consultant (Valtech, mostly in Blackpool, mostly public sector)
  • Contract developer building an FX trading platform for Reuters (BJSS, Leeds)
  • Technical architect / team lead / agile coach + Java & Ruby (an agency called TechnoPhobia, Sheffield)
  • Delivery lead (Tesco, via Equal Experts)
  • CTO of a big data startup (Bright North, London, 4 of the hardest and best years of my working life)
  • Delivery lead (public sector agile transformation project with a horrible legacy system migration from Websphere)
  • Head of Tech, looking after 60+ people, a whole load of code and several petabytes of personal data in a Hadoop cluster or two (Sky Betting and Gaming, Leeds)

These days I split my time between

  • Interim CTO / Tech Director / Advisor- helping a bunch of companies, mostly in London, do tech better.
  • VC and Private Equity due diligence - engage, understand, audit and help companies in growth or acquistion lifecycle stages.

I still code, by the way. Mostly in Clojure, because while Lisps are 50 years old now they're still The Future.

My job

If we're working together, you can see my main responsibilities as:

  1. help you to do your jobs effectively

  2. attract and retain really good team members

  3. own the processes that help us create and deliver a vision.

  4. be responsible to people outside the tech team for everything that we do

What do I value?

I value honesty and transparency. I tend towards being blunt at times; I won't be offended if you do, too.

I value effort. I'm happy for people to make mistakes, as long as it's not the result of inaction (and as long as the mistakes weren't ones that have been made loads of times before)

I value teams taking collective ownership of work - software development is a team sport. I believe in building teams of "T-shaped people" - team members who have at least one area of deep expertise, and a breadth of general expertise that helps them to help other people (contrast this with "I-shaped people" who have one, and only one focus and deep skillset).

I believe that the best work is done in an agile team by giving it to a set of self-organising, T-shaped people, who can back each other up and use each other's skills as a unit.

I also value individuals taking responsibility, directly, for things, and owning them. That doesn't mean the team doesn't do the work together - but everything of value should have an owner, or better, a champion.

What will get on my nerves

Teams and people who don't at least try to improve. As a manager, or from a delivery perspective, it's not my role to make you better. I'm here to give you what you need, as you make yourselves better. It's called Personal Development for a reason.

I really value a (cheesy phrase alert!) can-do attitude. If we've got a problem to solve, or a thing to build, or a plan to make, I prefer to work with team members who focus on the end goal and how to get there, not on the blockers that will surely appear. We'll break those down as we get to them.

What I expect from you

If you need help from me, and you're not getting it, tell me.

If you've got feedback for me - and hopefully this document gives you some things to judge me against - tell me.

I don't expect you to work the same hours as me. Sometimes I'm awake at very unsociable hours - especially early in the morning. You are not expected to reply to me at 5am. Working hours is fine.

What (as a colleague) you can expect from me

My calendar is open, and very few events are private.

I bias towards openness; if there's something you want to know, ask me.

My calendar can be busy, but I aim to make time for my team a priority. If you need me and you can't get a calendar slot, or it's more urgent, DM me in Slack. I aim to respond to Slack direct messages as soon as possible.

I ask lots of questions. This isn't because I don't trust you to do your job - it's because I do mine much more effectively with lots of information. Please humour me.

One-to-ones (1:1s)

If you report directly to me, we'll do regular 1:1 meetings, every two weeks. This is your time; prepare for them. I'm there to listen, to answer questions, to take away blockers, and to help you talk through your personal goals. These will be 30 minutes long, minimum.

If you report to one of my direct reports, we'll still have 1:1s. These are free-form and more about getting to know each other. These might be scheduled in advance, or I might just walk up to you when I can see you're free (eg kitchen).

1:1s are not for status updates. We've got other tools for that, like Scrums and JIRA. 1:1s are for talking about important things about you as a team member and a colleague.

Outside of a 1:1, you can still talk to me any time you need me. Face-to-face is best, Slack is next best, and email is a distant third.


I like Slack; if you can't see me face-to-face, Slack me.

I get a lot of email. I don't read all of it, and I do use email filters (aggressively). If you require a timely or guaranteed response, use Slack or come and talk to me with your actual voice.


I go to a lot of meetings. Meetings are very expensive to an organisation - the time per person, the context switching, the opporunity cost of all the things you could be thinking about instead of sweating in a small room full of technology people...

Therefore, if I run a meeting, I try to make sure that it

a) has an agenda (or at least a declared purpose) b) starts on time. If you're late, you'll miss the start. c) has the right attendees. If you'd like to forward a meeting invitation, please confirm with me first so we don't drag in people who have other things to do.

If I'm attending a meeting and I'm not clear on the purpose of my attendance, I'll ask.

This document will be updated, and is, perpetually a work in progress. Like me.


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