Lara Hogan

I'm an engineering leadership coach and consultant. Previously VP of Engineering at Kickstarter, Engineering Director at Etsy.

I champion engineering management as a practice, getting comfortable giving presentations, and celebrating career achievements with donuts.

Management & Leadership Resources

Software Engineering Radio   interview

Travis Kimmel talks with Lara Hogan and Deepa Subramaniam about evidence-based tactics that leaders can use to increase clarity and build healthier, high-performing organizations. Their conversation covers: diagnosing and treating problems that are slowing product, design, and engineering teams; “organization smells”; clarifying roles and responsibilities; improving documentation; facilitating better meetings; improving inter and intra-team dynamics. Audio

Advice for a new executive  blog post

When I was getting ready to join Kickstarter as VP of Engineering, Chad Dickerson (who was the CEO of Etsy when I worked there) offered to send me a bunch of advice. Chad had been a CTO multiple times before being CEO; he knew that this executive-level role was brand new to me, so he offered to help give me a steer and a foundation as I walked into this totally new territory. (read more)

Simple Leadership Podcast  

Christian McCarrick and I discuss expectation setting as a manager, mindful communication, my new company and a surprise management challenge! Find out what it is: Audio and Transcript

Week in Review Leadership Comms  blog post

As an Engineering Director at Etsy and VP of Engineering at Kickstarter, I sent a “Week in Review” document every two-ish weeks to my whole team. This doc helped me set records straight, disseminate info to lots of people at once, and open up conversation internally, while reflecting on the themes that had come up in weekly one-on-ones, backchannels, team meetings, etc. (read more)

Feedback Equation  blog post

As I mention in my book Demystifying Public Speaking, humans are mostly bad at giving feedback. We’re also really bad at preparing ourselves to receive feedback. (read more)

Leadership Style Colors  blog post

Search for “leadership styles” on Google, and you’ll find lots of different articles describing the various types and numbers of leadership styles. Here are some examples of articles that say there are five, six, seven, eight, nine, and twelve leadership styles. (read more)

Management/Leadership Philosophy   worksheet

Defrag Your Calendar   worksheet

Calendar color coding and defraging

Step one: Color code your calendar based on the kind of brain you use in each event. For example, in my week, I’ll have:

Step two: Use those colors to analyze how much context switching you’re doing each day. Also analyze how much you’re drained at the end of the day when there’s large blocks of the same brain.

Are you finding yourself using different mental energy every other hour? Is there a way to make shared-brain meetings follow each other in your day?

Relatedly, if you have a day where you JUST do one-on-ones, maybe you’re far more or less drained on those days than the other days. Make a note to yourself at the end of each day for two weeks how tired you are, and what the calendar colors looked like that day.

Step three: Defrag or reorganize. Move some things around so you’re doing less context-switching, and see if that helps. Or scatter the super draining events throughout the week to see if that makes it a little less taxing.

Manager Voltron Bingo   worksheet

Revamp a Meeting   worksheet

Setting Expectations   worksheet

Setting Communication Expectations   worksheet

Onsite Interview Loop   template

Questions for your first 1:1   worksheet

Delegate Messy, Unscoped Projects   worksheet

Example compensation calibration   spreadsheet

Tracking compensation and promotion inequity blog post

One of my suggestions is to calculate whether you compensate and promote people fairly, which requires some level of manual analysis.

Read Jason Wong’s post Bootstrapping Inclusion: Education & Effecting Behavioral Change to read about how he structures Compensation Calibration meetings. Also check out this example template for tracking and measuring compensation changes, based on Jason’s original comp calibration template.

Holding Balanced One on Ones   worksheet

It’s helpful to walk into your 1:1s with a game plan to build trust, help your direct report grow, and tackle some problems together. To do that, it’s important to find a balance between the three main hats you can wear as a manager: mentoring, coaching, and sponsoring.

Use this worksheet to plan your 1:1s, based on what your direct reports each need most.

How to Facilitate a Working Group Meeting  blog post

This is where the magic happens. After you’ve laid all the ground work for organizing a working group (define ground rules, choose and invite attendees, plan your agenda arc, and communicate broadly), here’s what to do when you finally get your participants in the room together. (read more)

How to Organize a Working Group  blog post

I’ve been running a lot of working groups as part of my consulting practice, leveling up product and engineering organizations. (read more)

Meetup Architecture Principles  blog post

Our Goal: Empower Meetup engineers to build coherent, lasting architecture solutions. (read more)

Onsite Interview Loop Template  blog post

This post originally appeared on Making Meetup (read more)

Team Leader Venn Diagram  blog post

A tool for gaining a shared understanding of responsibilities (read more)

Manager Energy Drain  blog post

One of the most frequent questions I hear as I coach managers is, “How do I handle how tired I am as a manager?” (read more)

When your manager isn't supporting you, build a Voltron  blog post

In my years of coaching managers and individual contributors, I’ve routinely heard the following complaints about their bosses: (read more)

Dealing with surprising human emotions: desk moves  blog post

Dealing with surprising human emotions is one of the most challenging aspects of being a manager. Generally, when someone appears triggered, or angry, or some other strong emotion that’s surprising, it’s likely that their amygdala has been hijacked, which I’ve written about before. Our amygdalas are in charge of our emotional reactions, and they’re critical to our “fight or flight” decisionmaking process. When our core needs feel threatened, our amygdala kicks into high gear. (read more)

Etsy's Charter of Mindful Communication  blog post

While I worked at Etsy, the company’s Culture & Engagement team rolled out the following “Charter of Mindful Communication”. I’m not sure if it’s been updated since, but I’ve found this language incredibly useful throughout my work ever since, and even brought it over to Kickstarter. I hope it’s valuable to you! (read more)

Tracking compensation and promotion inequity  blog post

Plenty of tech companies are attempting to make their pipeline of candidates more diverse. But an organization won’t find much success recruiting a more diverse group of employees unless its leaders are aware of their existing internal inclusion and equity issues. Unless leadership has already started to tackle these issues, it’s likely that these new hires will enter into an environment that they won’t want to stick around in for long. (read more)

Manager handoffs  blog post

Y’all know how crucial I think one-on-one’s are for managers to get to know their direct reports: what they need from their manager, how they like feedback, what makes them grumpy, and so much more! But what happens when a person switches managers? (read more)

Etsy Lessons  blog post

During my four and a half years at Etsy, I learned a ton, from a ton of people. Honestly, the lessons are innumerable, and I’m forever indebted to this crew not just for letting me learn and grow there, but for all that they taught me. Here are just a handful: (read more)

What does sponsorship look like?  blog post

The difference between mentorship and sponsorship
Illustration by Catt Small
(read more)

Why can't they just...?  blog post

Stealing a page out of other leaders’ books, I began writing a “Week in Review” post every two weeks or so at Etsy, with a link open to anyone internally, and a distribution list of the people in my organization. I used it as a reflection on themes that were coming up in weekly one-on-ones, backchannels, team meetings, etc. (read more)

Managering in Terrible Times  blog post

These are terrible times. You may be facing these events head-on as a member of a marginalized group or as an ally, and if you’re a manager, you likely have direct reports who are doing the same. (read more)

Setting Expectations as a Manager  blog post

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: (read more)

On Better Meetings  blog post

As an engineering director, my week is filled with meetings: one-on-ones with my direct reports, skip-level one-on-ones with theirs. Meetings to make decisions, meetings to share information, meetings to teambuild. I have meetings to provide mentorship, or feedback on a presentation, or to get coaching. (read more)

Work at different management levels  blog post

I remember working as a developer at a company and complaining that I had no idea what the bosses did all day. It felt like while we engineers were working hard and shipping stuff, managers just talked to a lot of people all the time, or sat in their offices behind closed doors, and I had no idea what their work looked like.1 (read more)

Questions for our first 1:1  blog post

In the last few years, I’ve had the pleasure of kicking off lots of new reporting relationships with both engineers and engineering managers. Over time, I’ve learned that getting some particular data during an initial 1:1 can be really helpful, as I can refer back to the answers as I need to give a person feedback, recognize them, and find creative ways to support them. Most of these I’ve stolen from some really amazing Etsy coworkers. (read more)

ShopTalkShow podcast   interview

I had a blast talking with Monika Piotrowicz, Chris Coyier, and Dave Rupert about career paths - where we started from doesn’t always equal where we’ve landed. Freelancer? Go to university or college? Find a mentor? It’s a common ShopTalk Show question and we did our best to answer from our experiences.

Transitioning to meta-management  blog post

Cate Huston’s post The Hardest, Shortest, Lesson Becoming a Manager recently resonated with me. She writes about the shift from day-to-day engineering to day-to-day management of engineers, and focuses on the reasons why it’s probably a smart idea to step away from coding as a manager. (read more)

Finding support as a new senior (woman) leader  blog post

As a female Senior Engineering Manager at a tech company, I’m in a weird spot. There are lots of women role models ahead of me who I look up to, and who I’m fortunate enough to call mentors. There are a bunch of women who I mentor, too, and many more women just entering the industry. (read more)

The High Road  blog post

"Taking the high road has never once come back to bite me in the ass." —Kelly Sue DeConnick

Think of the last time someone's behavior triggered you. What did they do that hurt you? What did they do that disappointed you? How did you handle the surge of emotions that followed? (read more)

Popforms   interview

Popforms Leader Of The Week is a feature on their blog where they highlight an outstanding leader and share their insights on leadership, career, and being awesome at your job. I wrote about taking the high road, having an awkward career trajectory, and what I look for in a great hire.

Calendar Hacks (Code as Craft)   publication

As an engineering manager, there’s one major realization you have: managers go to lots of meetings. After chatting with a bunch of fellow engineering managers at Etsy, I realized that people have awesome hacks for managing their calendars and time. I wrote up the best ones from a recent poll of Etsy engineering managers.