Paul as a manager

This is a live cheatsheet to give you an idea of what I offer and what I value as an engineering manager. I'll refine this post over time as I continue to grow.


What you can expect from me

My job as a manager is to enable you to do your best work so that we can grow the company and your career together. That means for me to understand your aspirations and to maximize your personal goals with that of the team's. I will support you by doing the chores that you don't want to do and push you hard on the work that you want to do.

There are many ways to getting things done. I don't expect you to adopt to my way but I do expect mutual understanding of how we each prefer to work. In particular, I push the team to be conscious of how they spend their time by focusing on what matters to the product and our customers. On any given week, I typically spend my time as follows:

  • 40% on supporting the team. This could be anything from collaborating on technical designs, code reviews, completing unwanted tickets, or just getting to know you.
  • 25% on development and operations. I pick up any gaps to keep our systems running smoothly.
  • 25% on engineering management. I regularly consider these 3 aspects: organization, project, and technical. For organization management, that means working with the product team to ensure that our engineering strategy has alignment within the organization. For project management, ensuring that we are achieving our sprint goals. For technical management, keeping an eye on our technical debt and prioritizing longer term behind-the-scene work.
  • 10% on personal growth. I am focusing on growing the skills that I need to be successful as a team lead and improving as a human being.

To enable product and customer mindfulness, it is my job to articulate the bigger picture to you so that you have the context to fully understand the problems that you're addressing. For example, I often like to collaborate on a one-pager problem statement to start a project before doing anything else.

I am tremendously focused and result-driven. I have an affinity for pragmatic, minimal effort to get just enough of a job done. I sometimes struggle when working with others who do not share these traits. Some things that are helpful for you to know about me:

  • I have low ego. I don't know what I'm doing more often than I realize. Sometimes I may inadvertently inconvenience you. When that happens, please accept my apology and help me improve.
  • I am driven by impact. Whether it is impact to the team, to customers, to the society, or to my family, I am proudest when seeing my effort make an impact in other people's lives, no matter how small.
  • I value open and transparent communication. I am a straightforward communicator. You can count on me to tell you what's on my mind. I will not take it personally if you disagree with me, but make sure that it is done openly so that we can discuss it.
  • I value a well-rested mind. Nothing can come between me and my sleep (except my kids 😅). When I don't sleep well, I don't perform well and get grumpy. I practice meditation, bodyweight training, and eating a pescatarian diet to keep my mind and body in shape.
  • I am a slow thinker. I'll often ask to sleep on an idea before getting back to you with a response.
  • I value understanding a problem deeply over clever solutions. I don't want to get ahead of ourselves and end up solving for the wrong thing.
  • I value feedback. Let me know what I've done well and what I can improve. I try my best to give others feedback immediately in context as I find that it is the most relevant.

What I expect from you

I trust you with the work; we hire smart people to solve complex problems. I will give you context and feedback, but you need to become the expert on the problem and own your solution. I expect you to own the work, to build relationships with our team, and to come to work with an empathatic attitude.

  • Make an impact. You're hired not just to code but to make a sizable business impact. Coding is a means to an end.
  • Balance. I like my job but I don't tie my identity to it. If you're feeling sick or unwell, take some time off. If it's a nice day outside and you'd rather not work, take some time off.
  • Build relationships. We seek people who can develop deep relationships with others. You can be introvert, extrovert, or anything else, but the ability to build and maintain human relationships is key.
  • Humility. There are lots of smart, talented people in the world, and there’s usually someone smarter than you. If you can’t accept that, you’re going to have a tough time listening to others, developing healthy relationships, or understanding others.
  • Make decisions. If you are stuck, figure out what you need to unblock yourself. When you make a decision, document your rationality and communicate to the rest of the team.
  • Make the work visible. Make sure that there is a shared understanding of the problem that we are solving, any key deliverables have due dates established, and you are communicating the progress of the work. Capture feedback from stakeholders on your ticket and close the loop.
  • Over-communicate. If it's important, then it's worth repeating. Announce it during team meeting, ping @here on Slack, note it in a doc, and again on your ticket.
  • Ask questions. If you don’t know something, ask. If something is unclear, ask. Asking questions is the best way for us to come to a shared understanding as a team.
  • 1 on 1s. The most precious thing we can offer each other is our time and attention. Let's get to know each other as human beings and explore how to support each other's personal growth.