How to Organize, Manage, and Grow Your Team
Senior Engineering Manager at DocuSign
Not Enough Delegation
I found that structuring an Engineering team for optimal growth and success of people is vital for delivering a win-win outcome for both people and product. As a manager, you are responsible for developing XYZ features while also being responsible for your team. This includes their growth in their roles, the alignment with their projects, time management, and identifying strengths to have efficient, complete projects.
From a growth perspective within the company we were moving at a very high velocity and thus it became crucial for me to structure my team and the mission of the team focused around driving leadership values while parallelly meeting strategic project goals.
There was an obvious need to grow leaders within my team who could become self-sustainable and able to drive projects independently. This could not be done without proper delegation and organizational roadmaps.
As a leader, I quickly learned that I needed to hire a mix of junior and senior engineers to create a balanced team with different growth points. This combination also makes for dynamic team chemistry.
In this case, I categorized engineers into essentially three groups. Those who needed more assistance and direction, those who needed less assistance and were self-drivers, and those who may even be considered smarter than you are in certain regards; require little coaching and thus free up your management for other individuals.
Using Roadmaps to Create Organization
Roadmaps are essential to enable the most efficient outcome possible. Without one, I don’t think there would be as good of a chance of organization and measurable success.
For each individual on my team, I look to roadmaps for the direction of their career, growth, and various expectations in projects. Once identifying the categories of individuals, project mapping was able to take place, considering the different skill levels and where each person wanted to evolve after the project was complete. This helped also see projects completed most efficiently, utilizing different skill sets and roles to accomplish projects instead of assuming that all engineers operate the same.
Within roadmapping projects, I also found that I could begin to teach team members to take ownership when new items came up. This included enabling them to teach an item once learned, which helps solidify those skills and empowers the engineer on their competency. I think this is a great objective to have within individual roadmaps.
Both project and personal roadmaps were planned out over nearly six months due to the project's complexity or various other parameters.
Another way to use roadmaps for the organization of a project is to look at each individual as a driver and contributor to the end goal. In regards to an engineer that is working on a project, I might consider the following:
How well-versed are they in the project? What level do they fall under? What phase of growth are they currently in? How well can they execute this project based on the given timeline?
Then, allow them to drive the project from start to finish.
Clarity is Key
This implementation was measurable after three years. And while projects were getting completed and individuals were on track for growth and maturing professionally, I was always able to look at project progress on things like Slack and Jira. This helped me delegate priority of my own time and theirs by being proactive and avoiding micromanagement.
Clarity is key when it comes to organization and growth in management. It is hard to manage a team effectively without clear roadmaps and a vision for the future of the whole.
As a manager, you have the responsibility to unlock potential and then map out implementation. Everyone wants to grow in their role and mature as a professional. This can make a huge impact on the successful delivery of projects because you can delegate individuals and assign them accordingly.
Identify the right people to deliver the right products. As a leader, it is valuable to make people and products successful. You are responsible for creating clarity and providing guidance toward this goal.
Make sure you understand team chemistry and team fit before hiring new engineers to the team. This involves mapping out what you may need for the next few years and determining who is the right person to help you on the journey. You may have junior and senior engineers looking to grow, so you must consider them a variable in project roadmaps.
Have a personal connection with your 1-1s. Use things like Jira and Slack to talk about project progress and other business-related aspects. Using your 1-1s for personal connection will help create understanding and clarity for the individual, such as how they feel, what they want to achieve after project completion, etc.
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Senior Engineering Manager at DocuSign
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