Lyncredible Navigating the tech stack of engineering management

Effective One-on-One

I spend a ton of time in 1:1 meetings. I meet with my team members weekly, including people I support and peers on my first team. I have bi-weekly syncs with engineering managers from adjacent teams, and I do monthly checkins with a bunch of other folks. I easily spend more than 10 hours every week between attending these meetings and preparing for them. My feelings of how my week goes are largely predicated on the effectiveness of my 1:1 meetings.

What could go wrong

What could go wrong? That was the question my own manager asked me when I proposed to replace standups with weekly checkins. That question was a powerful one. It got me to think. I contemplated what could go wrong, and more importantly how to mitigate the risks. I eventually came out feeling much more confident, and I would go on to ask myself what could go wrong many more times.

Replacing standups

After transitioning to an Engineering Manager, the first change I made was to replace our daily standup meeting with weekly sprint checkin meeting. To set the record straight, I do not hate standup meetings. I even pitched our team to have standups a year prior while I was still an engineer. Nevertheless, I am oblivious to standups. Meetings, in my opinion, are a means to an end. So I set out on an incredible journey to make sense of standups and to do away with them.

Speedy meetings

I am an introvert. As much as I enjoy talking to and learning from people, it only takes a couple of back-to-back meetings to completely drain my mental energy. My first few weeks were hectic. I was exhausted all the time. I showed up late to every meeting, and skipping bathroom runs didn’t help. Thanks to my then manager Brian Delahunty, I was able to leverage speedy meetings to save my sanity.

Project Buddy

I am a loyal reader of Will Larson’s writings, and this article titled Work the policy, not the exceptions is one of my favorites. Despite reading it multiple times and asking the author in person, I was always on the fence of understanding it. To begin with, I fumbled on the title itself. I seriously questioned my English education: isn’t the verb work intransitive? It took me an actual, iterative policy design, dubbed Project Buddy, to feel like I finally scratched the surface of its meaning.