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Designing a Career Ladder

Company Culture
Cross-Functional Collaboration
Career Path

11 March, 2022

Henning Muszynski
Henning Muszynski

Head of Frontend at Doist

Henning Muszynski, Head of Frontend at Doist, shares how he created career progression and management hierarchy as his team scaled.

Issues Related to Framework

At one point in my leadership journey, I felt productivity dropping, I didn’t get as much as I wanted. Why?

The reason behind that is having too many meetings. We were about 13 people in the team, and I had one-on-one sessions with every individual, which meant about one and a half days spent merely on it. Spending ample time in meetings led me to have less focus time, which had almost no work done from my end. Being the single point of contact, all the leadership matters ended up on my plate.

It brought me to miss on growth opportunities for others and manifest my leadership skills. I did try to approach the issue via batch meetings and bi-weekly one-on-ones, but it wasn’t moving the needle. Plus, it did not address the root cause of my area of responsibility and the team not growing into the leadership aspect. I did not have a person to whom I could delegate some of my duties.

Introducing a Formal Framework for Making Decision

We were thinking about changing the meeting madness and introducing a structure for things to have a better flow. One of the easiest parts about this was that our front-end developers team was divided into two, while I was the only leader. One-third of the group was the full-stack team responsible for the landing pages, emails, and internal tools, whereas the other two-thirds was the product team.

We had a few different strategies to divide the team, but we decided to cut it in half. It gave birth to three leaders — one for the full-stack team and two for the product teams. Since it is a remote-first company, we have a globally dispersed team spread across various time zones even before the pandemic started.

Getting everyone in one meeting is nearly impossible, except when some teammates agreed to start working at 6 in the morning, while others were willing to stay up until midnight. So, when splitting the team came into the picture, we also considered separating them by time zones.

Since the newly assigned leads took care of the one-on-one meetings and ensured that the developers had career plans, it made the team processes much easier. So far, the feedback has been great. The leaders like their responsibilities, and they are also expanding their horizons. The teammates were also content with their leaders, who could talk to and set clear expectations.

On the contrary, I had more time to participate in the architectural discussions and look for ways to focus on high-leverage activities.

Managing Managers Comes With Its Set of Challenges

  • Leading ICs vs. leading managers is an entirely different sport. Managers have different kinds of challenges, and it’s no more about advising on communication or other types of more minor challenges. Managing managers comes to the point of advising them on leadership and how they can provide feedback effectively.

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