Bringing A Team Together

John Cheng

Engineering Manager at ZipRecruiter



I transitioned into becoming a manager at the Rubicon Project. When I became a manager, there were about three engineers in our team. We didn't have much in terms of process or structure and people were all working in their own distinct silos. What I realized was that the engineers weren't coming together as a team and they never collaborated.

Actions taken

I looked for a time for the team to get together so I could give them an update on what was going on at the company and things that could affect them. This allowed them to become informed together and discuss concerns they had as a group. Next, I decided to do something that was a little more interesting for our engineers. I blocked out an hour for the team to talk about interesting, geeky things. Every week we would have an agenda, such as interesting articles or an interesting programming technique. Every now and then I would also mention things I saw in a code review where the code wasn't necessarily wrong but where it was interesting to talk about tradeoffs. People quickly started to open up and participate in this process. They would talk about what we were doing as a team and what we could do to make improvements, and it was all done in a very safe and friendly way. It never felt like we were criticising each other. We have a much larger team today, with nine engineers working in a variety of different time zones. We still use the weekly team meeting where we get together and talk about how to improve as a team and interesting things we have learned.

Lessons learned

This has really helped people who tend to just have their heads down, writing code, to come out of their shells and to engage with the rest of the team. It has also helped people in my team to grow into more senior, lead responsibilities as they have become more comfortable about opening up and presenting ideas to other people.

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John Cheng

Engineering Manager at ZipRecruiter

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