Setting Expectations as a Manager

This past week, an engineer who I hired a few years ago transitioned into management. It’s been years since he reported to me directly, so we had a first-one-on-one-redux in which we talked through my first 1:1 questions. I realized it might also be helpful to reset expectations about:

My management philosophy

I believe that humans already have the answers inside themselves. My role is to help them find it.

I primarily rely on open questions (a coaching method of management), rather than outright advice-giving. For a given topic, if you really want advice and NOT coaching, please explicitly ask for it - just let me know that that’s what you need.

My expectations of managers who report to me

Please proactively tell me if your spidey sense is going off about team dynamics, an individual, or something else that may eventually grow into a major concern.

Please have weekly 1:1s with your direct reports. In those 1:1s, please be explicit about your reports’ career progression, feedback you have for them, context from the greater org as you have it, and coaching as they work through problems.

Please routinely reach out to your team’s stakeholders. Keep an ear to the ground about what they’re launching, and be proactive about responding to them when they reach out.

Please build a peer network for yourself. I’m happy to help you find new peers to build that network. Please lean on them, as you do me, as you explore solutions to challenges you face. (Bonus points: doing work outside of our 1:1 to explore solutions before bringing problems to me; though this obviously isn’t always possible or reasonable to do.)

Please continue to educate yourself on management: use your one-conference-per-year allotment, attend Leadership & Development workshops, learn from peers, etc.

Please demonstrate a healthy work-life balance to your team. Please do not send emails/Slack messages far outside of work hours (or use Boomerang) to your team; if you do need to for some reason, please make it clear to your team that it’s an unusual circumstance.

What you can expect of me as your manager

A weekly 1:1, in which I provide context from the greater org, share any feedback I have for you (especially as it relates to career progression), and help you work through problems you’re trying to solve.

Routine sharing from me of the problems that I’m also facing in my current work, so you have more context from the larger org, and concrete information about what I’m up to.

Asynchronous responses if I’m in meetings (like via Slack or email). You can expect from me a response as soon as possible, even if that’s to set an expectation with you about when to expect an in-depth response from me (or clarity on what I’m blocked on, if anything.)

Skip-level 1:1s with your direct reports.


I decided to share these points with all the folks who report to me, in case it was helpful to them, too. I asked my reports to consider the above a really rough start; I’ll continue to put more work into developing these thoughts, and am really excited to talk more about them with each direct report and get their feedback.

Lara Callender Hogan

I'm a VP of Engineering and the author of Designing for Performance, Building a device lab, and Demystifying Public Speaking. Follow me on Twitter, read my blog.