Plato Elevate Winter Summit has been announced (Dec 7th-8th)

🔥

Back to resources

Having Impact on ICs as a Manager

Impact
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Juniors

13 July, 2021

Mu Qiao
Mu Qiao

Sr Engineering Manager at Teladoc Health

Mu Qiao, Senior Engineering Manager at Teladoc Health, values the impact that he stands to make on the careers of his direct reports.

Problem

Realizing the impact that I have as a leader was a really big moment for me personally. I was the engineering manager at a start-up, starting as an IC and moving up to managing managers myself. There was a junior developer who reported to one of the managers who was reporting to me at the time. We would have one-on-ones periodically.

This person expressed that they had never had a one-on-one that had been as focused and as helpful before having one with me. It took a while for the gravity of that to fully sink in. It made me realize that something that I do as a part of my job might have a profound impact on the career of one of my reports, at least for the time that we spend together.

Actions taken

The first one-on-one is really straightforward: an opening statement, here’s who I am, and here’s what I’m here for. I would give them advice about what they wanted to do, and then we would move on to actually getting work done. I still use this routine to this day.

When I assess an IC, I try to get an idea of what really motivates them. People respond to motivators very differently. Some people like the idea of a prestigious title. Some people really like money. Fine, that’s a reasonable ask. We can figure out how to get there. Some folks just aren’t sure, especially if they’ve just graduated. They may have some notion of what they want to do, but aren’t really concrete on why.

Sometimes, it takes a bit of digging in. You try to stretch them and apply enough pressure to help them learn and grow. Stretching somebody too much is not helpful, however. You have to work together with them in order to find that balance, the right amount of stretching. You want to challenge them without stressing them out too much.

Lessons learned

  • There is always more work to be done. Finding the right work to do is part of your job. It’s your manager’s job to show you what not to do.
  • In a way, as you move from being an IC to a manager, you will have some doubts. This is something that I have to do? Will I be able to do it well? Do I have the expertise that you need? For a new manager, consider where the person is comfortable and where they are not comfortable.
  • As you go higher and higher as a manager, you’ll end up juggling more and more people on top of your departmental duties. It becomes less about the technical expertise and more about different soft skills. Can you figure out team composition? What level of expertise do you need? What product makes sense for your team to produce?

Discover Plato

Scale your coaching effort for your engineering and product teams
Develop yourself to become a stronger engineering / product leader


Related stories

Delegate successfully as a first time manager of Product Managers

24 November

Andrew Tsui, a Product Leader, works to build great teams that are independent, demonstrate mastery of their domain, and fully commit to their purpose.

Scaling Team
Building A Team
Delegate
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Psychological Safety
Cross-Functional Collaboration
New Manager
Andrew Tsui

Andrew Tsui

Director of Product at Startup

Inviting Juniors to Learn New Skills

23 November

William Bajzek, Director of Engineering at Sapphire Digital, is always keeping his eyes open for ways that he can give his team a chance to learn something new.

Different Skillsets
Juniors
William Bajzek

William Bajzek

Director of Engineering at Sapphire Digital

Overcoming Constraints Through Creative Thinking

23 November

Neelima Annam, Sr Director Information Technology at Outmatch, recalls a time when she had to use non-conventional methods to train her team.

Different Skillsets
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Neelima Annam

Neelima Annam

Sr. Director Information Technology at Outmatch HCM

Building trust as a new Manager

23 November

Neelima Annam, Sr Director Information Technology at Outmatch, shares her insight into her growth path of evolving her management style to build trust.

Alignment
Personal Growth
Conflict Solving
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
New Manager
Neelima Annam

Neelima Annam

Sr. Director Information Technology at Outmatch HCM

Are your product problems that special?

19 November

James Engelbert, Head of Product at BT, shares how he helped his team approach learning differently.

Customers
Meetings
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
James Engelbert

James Engelbert

Head of Product at BT

You're a great engineer.
Become a great engineering leader.

Plato (platohq.com) is the world's biggest mentorship platform for engineering managers & product managers. We've curated a community of mentors who are the tech industry's best engineering & product leaders from companies like Facebook, Lyft, Slack, Airbnb, Gusto, and more.