Combating Misperceptions of Engineer Productivity through Communication and Education

Chris Fry

Sr Director of Engineering at CareRev



"I had an arrangement with an engineer on my team where he would arrive late most days because he needed extra flexibility for outside obligations with his kids and family. But this guy was always working. He was always on and whenever there was a crisis he would be the first person to respond. Yet, people would always come up to me and ask why he was never around. At that time, too, we were struggling a bit as we were migrating our platform, people were under a lot of pressure, and products needed to be fixed. So we were encountering all of these problems, which made it look like we weren't making progress, and it appeared to others that my one engineer was never around. I realized that people didn't always see or know what the engineers were doing. So how do I untangle this misperception?"

Actions taken

"It became important for me to open up a channel of communication and become the PR for my team. Each Thursday I would have a weekly meeting where I would get up and explain some of the things that the engineers were doing behind the scenes. I knew that others didn't really know what was occurring, so I would give them examples. I would show them the team itself, what we were working on, and some of the problems we were working through. I would take a few minutes to go over some of the issues we had encountered and how they were being solved. I broke down the problems and framed them more in the context of explaining the problems themselves, rather than simply showing off the results, wanting to really draw attention to what was going on in the process and eliminating any possible twisted perceptions of what was occurring. Being transparent became a key element for understanding. I knew what my team was doing, but it was my responsibility as a manager to work through the barriers of perception and show others what they were accomplishing."

Lessons learned

"I wish I would have done more of this sooner. It's important to constantly publish information. Whether it is blogs, emails, or status reports, make it very clear to everyone what you are doing and the progress you are making. Sometimes it can feel like you're puffing it up a little, but it's a necessary task in order to combat some of the misperception." "Also be aware that some people are not used to nor understand the process of creating technology. Engineers deal with complex situations that are not easily solved. By educating non-engineers, especially as a company gets bigger and more remote, it becomes a matter of survival. Have meetings, describe situations, explain problems, and inform them of the work that engineers do. Take the time to teach them so that there's understanding through and through."

Be notified about next articles from Chris Fry

Chris Fry

Sr Director of Engineering at CareRev

CommunicationOrganizational StrategyCulture DevelopmentLeadership TrainingPerformance ReviewsFeedback TechniquesTechnical ExpertiseCareer GrowthCareer ProgressionSkill Development

Connect and Learn with the Best Eng Leaders

We will send you a weekly newsletter with new mentors, circles, peer groups, content, webinars,bounties and free events.


HomeCircles1-on-1 MentorshipBountiesBecome a mentor

© 2024 Plato. All rights reserved

LoginSign up