Issue #280, 6th April 2018

This Week's Favorite


An Engineer's Bill of Rights (And Responsibilities)
4 minutes read.

This post by Charity Majors is so spot on; I found myself reading while nodding my head and smiling all the way: "But if you let all the power drift over to the engineering managers, pretty soon it doesn’t look so great to be an engineer. Now you have people becoming managers for all the wrong reasons, or everyone saying they want to be a manager... Managers - Care for every engineer on your team. Support them in their career trajectory, personal goals, work/life balance, and inter- and intra-team dynamics."

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Culture


When the Deadline Comes Too Close
1 minutes read.

My humble effort to help you start the weekend with a smile on your face.

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Incentivize Teams, Not People
3 minutes read.

Misalignment between individual's incentives and company's goals usually happen due to good intentions (aren't they all?). Managers in the organization should remind their teammates that they work for the company, so focusing on what moves the needle for the business will produce the highest impact. Fight contradicting policies as it breaks the trust you worked so hard to build.

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Hiring, Firing and More
5 minutes read.

I recommend reading this post and the original one, as it will get you to look back and think about your experience. I very much agree with "Hire only for good reasons. Being overworked is not a good reason to hire. Instead, hire to be ready to catch opportunities, not to survive the current battles" -- Overworked employees are usually due to misaligned priorities and incentives, not due to work to be done.

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Performance of Performance Reviews
18 minutes read.

Steven Sinofsky is such a great writer. Every manager should read this post to understand the motivation and variations of Performance Reviews. I tend to tell my teammates to "forget about the questions in the Performance Reviews and instead write this - what can you do to increase your impact on the team and the company? What can I do help you get there?" -- When I hear that people use Performance Reviews to offboard employees (set expectations before firing them), it's a strong "organizational smell". Performance Reviews should always end on a high note, where both sides have stronger mutual expectations, and higher mental capacity to push themselves.

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Peopleware


Having Productive Conversations When I Disagree
2 minutes read.

Julia Evans with a great tip - be curious, ask questions and explain back why the other side disagrees with you in your own words. Take that chance to learn something new and build better relationships with your teammates.

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How to Lead by Noticing and Filling in Gaps
4 minutes read.

Jean Hsu offers a great perspective on how leaders should leverage IC's skills to fill existing organizational gaps: "I realized the only thing that would happen if I always completed my tasks reliably, is that I would get more of them... As a leader, Dan noticed my gap: the gap between my self-perception of my abilities and what was possible for me. He started filling it with that one powerful conversation, and continued to fill it in the months that followed, setting me up to in turn notice and fill in gaps that actually mattered to the team and the company."

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What Does a VP of Engineering Do?
6 minutes read.

"If the CTO knows the destination, the VPE is identifying the route to get there." -- Dan DeMeyere covers in details how the VPE is being measured and their key responsibilities. If you see yourself being a VPE in the future, bookmark it. One thing that I'd add to it from experience is "Seeking alignment" - many times your role is to get the CTO, Product and Business (Marketing & Sales) to agree on priorities by asking tough questions and bringing in costs (estimation) to allow such prioritization. This is where your leverage can move the needle on the company's level and not only at the engineering level.

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Inspiring Tweets


@alexrkonrad: Every Time a Startup Announces It's Shutting Down on Medium, a Cannon Blast Should Sound Over SoMa and Their Logo Appear in the Sky With the Hunger Games Theme

@holman: Companies Who Have Dropped Their Production Database Because They Accidentally Ran Code in the Wrong Environment: Amazon, DigitalOcean, GitHub, GitLab, Travis… the List Goes On. Just a Reminder That “smarter” People Than You Still Make Those “basic Mistakes”. And That’s Okay.

- Oren

P.S. Can you share this email? I'd love for more people to experiment and improve their company's culture.

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