Providing Career Guidance to Your Employees

Kushal Dalal

Director of Engineering at Suzy



While managing a software engineer, I noticed some distraction as they did their work. They had just finished their Master’s in Computer Science, but were having second thoughts because product management interested them. This newfound interest was actually taking a negative toll on their performance.

I tried to think it through from the perspective of a leader. I wanted to encourage them, but I also wanted to keep them on track toward a career that was a good fit for them. I knew where they were talented and wanted them to see their skills through to their fullest potential.

Actions taken

I helped them weigh their options. I told them how much further actually being able to build a product would take them personally at this point in their career. I also encouraged them to learn the skills that becoming a product manager requires as they progress in their current path. I offered to conduct periodic check-ins with them in order to see how they were changing in their intentions as a professional. We started focusing more on these things and their performance began to improve dramatically.

It took a lot of time with them to understand why they were seeking this change suddenly, right out of grad school. That’s where we really started to connect. They felt more like a people person after all was said and done. I disagreed. I reassured them of their talent in the field.

When the pandemic hit, we ended up letting a lot of our product managers go. I think this person really understood where I was coming from at that moment. We were trying to prioritize the engineer as a company. They ended up becoming a really great coder.

Lessons learned

  • Part of your job as a leader is to not write anything off that somebody brings to you. We need to really try to see things from the other person’s perspective. It’s important to understand where somebody is coming from.
  • When helping a report make an important decision, sit down with them and write a list of pros and cons. Try to figure out which option is truly best in the long run. Where will they find the most amount of opportunity?
  • When you see something, say something. Do not wait until their six-month performance evaluation if you notice that they need help.

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Kushal Dalal

Director of Engineering at Suzy

Leadership DevelopmentCommunicationPerformance ReviewsFeedback TechniquesTechnical SkillsProgrammingSoftware DevelopmentCareer GrowthCareer ProgressionIndividual Contributor Roles

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