#25 - Intentional Technical Leadership

Newsletter - Saturday, 1 October 2022

Hey my friend!

Happy Saturday everyone! ๐ŸŽ‰

Welcome to another issue of the Intentional Technical Leadership newsletter.

I hope you've had a great week.

My week has been a little busy than normal as I start to manage a second team at work. I've spent some time trying to understand their existing ways of working and any commitments they already have. I don't want to manage a new team and tell them to change everything! It's never a good idea to be a manager who comes in and attempts to change all of the things.

I've also spent some time building relationships with my engineering manager peers. Networking across your company is a great super-power which will help both you and your teams to grow.

And on to this week's issue. Let's get started!

๐Ÿ”– Interesting Reading

How I built a framework to measure engineering team health

I always try to build a peer network of technical leaders whenever I join a new company. We get together weekly and discuss any challenges that come up for us or our teams.

This week we were discussing team metrics and how we tell how our teams are feeling and performing so this next article was incredibly timely.

This post from my good friend Si Jobling, an experienced engineering manager at ASOS, talks about a new framework, PETALS, to capture weekly feedback on your team.

PETALS stands for:

  • Productivity
  • Enjoyment
  • Teamwork
  • Learning
  • Stress

Si has developed a simple mechanism to consistently capture feedback from his team so he can quickly identify concerns and quickly take action when needed.

I love the simplicity of this framework and how it gives results more quickly than something like the Spotify health check model.

Take a look and share it with your network if you find it as valuable as I do.

Good Work. Hereโ€™s some more.

This is a really interesting article about overwork and mastery.

Managers often attempt to get the most out of their team by giving them more of the same work. But if they never have anything new and interesting to work on, are you setting them up for success?

It's really easy to see your highest performing team members delivering great work quickly and assume that they can do more of the same. This is sustainable in the short-term but people want to do more than just deliver great work. They want to learn and grow. They want to be challenged. They want to be stretched.

Read this post and see how you can ensure you help your team members to achieve mastery.

To Become a Leader, Act Like One

This is a quick read if you're looking at a career in management but aren't sure if you're ready.

It shares some tips on how you can observe your manager, or another senior leader in your organisation, and understand the type of behaviours they exhibit.

Are they more strategic? Do they focus on longer term goals? How can you model their behaviours and start to build your own leadership style?

It's a great way to understand what the next role in your organisation looks like and how you might get there.

๐ŸŒถ๏ธ Hot Take

The Hierarchy Is Bullshit (And Bad For Business)

I love anything that Charity Majors writes. She's got so much experience as a technical leader and is very honest in her writing.

In this post, she doesn't pull any punches and talks about how gaining a higher position in a company doesn't always make sense for your career.

While your big new promotion might seem like your next big step, it might not make you as happy as you think.

You don't always need to up the ante to get more out of your career. You often get more fulfilment from learning more but not giving yourself more work and a more senior role.

A brilliant read from Charity as always.

Your CTO Should Actually Be Technical

This article did the rounds on Twitter this week and I saw a lot of people sharing it.

Does your CTO have to be technical? And do you as a leader of technical teams need to have a deep technology background?

This post argues that a CTO has to be technical to be able to judge the quality of their teams' work. It says that understanding how the technology works is a key piece of knowledge that allows them to make better decisions for the company.

I'm always torn on this.

Firstly, I think that managers need to be good with people.

I've seen many extremely technical people be promoted into management only to fail because they don't work well with others. They don't have empathy for their team and can't help to get the best out of them and build great relationships.

If you're a good people person, you can lean heavily on the most technical people in your team to get the answers you need. Being honest enough to say "I don't know but I can get you the answer quickly" is a skill that you'll need to learn once you're not involved in the day-to-day technical work.

However, I do think it's useful to have a reasonable understanding of the technical domain you're working in so you can help to make better decisions. It's tough to set strategy if you don't have much of an idea of what your team does.

What do you think?

I hope you enjoyed this week's selection of intentional technical leadership articles.

Hit reply and let me know what you think.

Feel free to send me any interesting articles or podcasts you've found as I love hearing from my readers.

Have an amazing week and be excellent to each other!

Speak to you soon,

Senior Engineering Manager @ Netlify

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