Author, public speaker, and coach for managers and leaders across the tech industry.
I first learned the phrase “balance direction and empowerment” from Dana Trader, Meetup’s former VP of HR (now she’s a VP at Teachers Pay Teachers). (read more)
“Generally, when we become a manager, we are just trying to do our best, and the shortcut to doing our best is, ‘Well, what would I want in this situation? What would I need?’ It’s very natural to leap from that to assuming that everybody else is going to want or need the same needs that you do.” But it turns out: that doesn’t work!
In this episode of the Humans + Tech podcast, we cover how to get feedback from your team, dealing with times of crisis, a gross metaphor for growth, and so much more.
You can be an amazing developer, but a terrible manager. We discuss why becoming a manager isn’t necessarily a promotion, and some of the most important skills people need to not only be good managers, but in any supporting role.
Think about when a manager’s helped skyrocket your growth—what did they do? Did they teach you a new skill? Did they give you hard feedback? (read more)
Wishing you could congratulate the new manager in your life while also giving them some more support in their new role? Meet my New Manager Care Package. (read more)
In my last newsletter, I wrote about a few skills that indicate someone is distinctly more senior in their role: (read more)
“As a leader, your job should change every six months even if you stay put.” —Cate Huston (read more)
We discuss the qualities that help teams thrive and how you can contribute whether you’re a leader … or aspire to be.
Focus on Core Needs: I joined Paul and guest host Gina Trapani to chat about my new book and about leadership in the workplace. I walked through a framework for managing different types of people and gave tips on how to adapt your management style. I also gave Paul some useful advice on where he should sit in the office and explained why moving desks can be so traumatic.
The first time I came across the concept of a “first team”, it was in the incredible book The Manager’s Path: (read more)
Did your first management gig come with a small pay bump and zero training? Ours too! But being good at doing a job doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be good at managing people doing it. We cover: why there’s more to managing than just mentoring, why moving desks in your office seems like a pretty small thing but is actually often a Big Deal in the workplace, and why it’s a must to get to know people who aren’t just like you in the workplace and find ways to sponsor them in their areas of interest.
Just when you thought you had a handle on your job… it’s time to lead a team! Time to be responsible for others. Their career growth, emotional well-being at work, and job satisfaction. We cover a ton of ground in this video!
This announcement was a long time in the making: (read more)
This post originally appeard on the 11:11 Supply Nerd Out Blog (read more)
We discuss finding my ideal job coaching and mentoring, evaluating for management alignment, what makes for a strong manager, the value of role-play for difficult conversations, constructive feedback, and my upcoming book, Resilient Management.
We talk about the surprising human emotions that crop up at work, how to navigate them as a manager, and how to know to create your own Manager Voltron.
Ah, performance reviews. The season that eats up most managers’ spare time as they collect and synthesize feedback from others. The season that ramps up anxiety in teammates as they wait to hear what’s been said about them, and whether or not they’re gonna get that promotion. It’s both draining and tedious, and tremendously important. (read more)
As you wrap up the year, and as you reflect on your role as a manager or leader, I encourage you to develop a one-line leadership philosophy that you can share with your mouthwords in the new year. (read more)
In my full-day workshop for managers, I lead participants through a series of exercises to become better mentors and coaches for their direct reports. (read more)
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
I’ve been thinking a ton about fairness since I came across this HBR article: “Research: When Managers Are Overworked, They Treat Employees Less Fairly” (read more)
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)
We all mess up sometimes. (read more)
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
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)
This post originally appeared on Making Meetup (read more)
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)
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)
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.
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.
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.
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)
I’ve been running a lot of working groups as part of my consulting practice, leveling up product and engineering organizations. (read more)
Our Goal: Empower Meetup engineers to build coherent, lasting architecture solutions. (read more)
This post originally appeared on Making Meetup (read more)
A tool for gaining a shared understanding of responsibilities (read more)
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)
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 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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
"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 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.
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.