Coaching a recently hired engineer on their areas of improvement

Manjunath Shankar

Senior Engineering Manager at VMware



"Six months ago, I arrived as a manager in a team composed of several very high performers. I soon realized that one very junior employee didn't really fit into the company culture, in the sense that he was not very good at listening to the others, nor at collaborating. In addition, he sometimes had an arrogant attitude. During our first one-on-ones, he made it clear to me that he knew the best way to do his job, and informed me that he wanted to get promoted because other employees have previously been promoted after a similar period of time in the company."

Actions taken

"Things don't change overnight, so I first tried to create a relationship of trust with him in order to be able to coach him, and to set some goals for improvements. During our one-on-ones, I tried to understand his motivations more in regards to why he wanted to be promoted. I also tried to make him determine how he could contribute to the company and to determine where he wanted to go. Then, we worked on defining a concrete, well-defined and measurable path that would take him where he wanted to go, including several areas of improvements. I made sure to set very clear expectations for him. It was important to explain that career progression is not driven by time, but is driven by performance. I can clearly see many improvements. It is very clear to the employee that while career progression is not time driven, we have worked together towards building a path to get there. He understands that having clear goals, keeping to his commitments, performance and collaboration will help get him to the next position, and knows what he has to do to get there. Collaborating within the team has improved his accountability and the quality of his work."

Lessons learned

"As a manager, you have to make sure that your team works towards the objectives the company sets, and at the same time each team member moves towards his own aspirations and establishes personal goals. It is even more crucial with young employees who have just graduated from school. They bring in a lot of new ideas and high energy. Everyone has strengths and areas of improvement. As managers, our goal should be to help employees work in an open and trusted environment. Having career discussions on an ongoing basis is paramount to all members of a high performing team and more so in the case of younger members of the team, as this helps to mold them."

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Manjunath Shankar

Senior Engineering Manager at VMware

Leadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyCulture DevelopmentCareer GrowthCareer ProgressionSkill DevelopmentIndividual Contributor RolesStaff EngineerLeadership Roles

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