Back to resources

How to Drive a Team Vision as a First-Time Manager

Sharing The Vision
New Manager

23 February, 2021

Paras Doshi
Paras Doshi

Engineering Manager (BI & Data) at Amazon

Paras Doshi, Engineering Manager (BI & Data) at Amazon, recalls how he successfully drove a team vision as a first-time manager who took over a team without the vision and roadmap.

Problem

My memories of those early days are fairly fresh since I stepped into management by taking over a team that didn’t have the vision. Not only that the team lacked the vision, they also lacked the roadmap that would steer their efforts in the right direction. Lacking the vision was a critical blocker for the team to achieve job satisfaction, be motivated and productive. As a manager, I feel very strongly that the team’s job satisfaction is tightly knit to their understanding of what the purpose of the team is -- why we are doing what we are doing and how it maps back to the overall organization strategy.

Actions taken

Getting rid of an IC mindset

As a first-time manager, I was initially reluctant to deep dive into creating and driving a new team vision. As a first-time manager, I was leaning towards my IC instinct and let other leaders draft those documents and be happy to follow that. But I quickly realized within first two weeks that I needed to have a leadership mindset and I decided to take ownership and come up with the proposal I believed would work the best for my team.

Setting up the vision: three steps

To set up the team vision, I had to do three things:

  • Understand what the business goals we were trying to accomplish as an organization were;
  • Identify how my team could contribute to delivering on those goals. That included talking to my team members and assessing their strengths and experience, but also dissecting how their contribution could be the most impactful;
  • Learn from our customers what they perceived to be our strengths, areas for improvement, etc.

By combining all three, I was able to put together the vision that was translated into a roadmap document and incorporated into our prospective actions for the next 12 months. The document itself laid out what we would do in the upcoming period and why we would focus on those things, but also clarifying why other things remained below the line. As much it is essential to highlight the yes part, the no part should be also clear to the team.

Lessons learned

  • Prioritize heavily. I initially thought that we should do A, B, and C -- and ten more things -- but once I laid them out and better understood the scope of things we had to deliver I realized that I will have to heavily prioritize on those things. I had to narrow it down to things that will have the highest impact for my team and the most important part of narrowing things down is the ability to say no.
  • Get buy-in from all the stakeholders for items you selected to work on. Focus on things that make the most sense for your team to work on. Things that remained below the line might be there for multiple reasons -- for example, not being important or requiring excessive resources -- and the team should be aware of those reasons.
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out to your customers for feedback. I was pleasantly surprised by how people were willing to share their feedback and discuss our strengths and areas for improvement. I was very proactive and didn’t shy away from contacting them. By doing so, I established an informal mechanism where customers could deliver their feedback on a monthly or quarterly basis that could directly influence our roadmap.
  • If I asked someone from the team what we do, I would be able to get a clear explanation captured in a couple of sentences. They were able to connect their day-to-day work to long-term goals and comprehend the whole process end-to-end. We used to spend 90 minutes on our bi-weekly planning to detail what we would work on in the upcoming 30 days. The process now takes 30 minutes, and we are saving 60 minutes that we can put into execution.
  • The overall satisfaction of the team went up. Understanding the purpose behind their day-to-day work and how they are contributing to the bigger picture, was immensely rewarding for the team.

Discover Plato

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


Related stories

Congratulations you're an Engineering Manager! Now What?

29 July

Congratulations, you have just been promoted to an engineering management role. Once you are done celebrating the promotion you have worked hard to earn you might start to ask yourself, now what do I do?

Leadership
New Manager
AJ St. Aubin

AJ St. Aubin

Director Software Engineering at The RepTrak Company

Team Development Framework for new managers

26 June

Individual Contributors are familiar with a technical development framework that helps them with building products. Managers, especially new managers can leverage a parallel framework to help them build their teams while drawing analogies from an already familiar framework.

Building A Team
Team Processes
New Manager
Viswa Mani Kiran Peddinti

Viswa Mani Kiran Peddinti

Sr Engineering Manager at Instacart

Deciding if Management Is Right for You

13 June

Deekshita Amaravadi, Engineering Manager at Justworks, talks about the intricacies of making the decision to switch from an IC role to a management one.

Personal Growth
Leadership
Career Path
New Manager
Deekshita Amaravadi

Deekshita Amaravadi

Engineering Manager at Justworks

Guiding Your Team Through a Data-Driven Transformation

2 June

Philip Gollucci, Director of Cloud Engineering at CareRev, shares his tips for managing people amidst a significant data-driven transformation.

Innovation / Experiment
Changing A Company
Sharing The Vision
Data Team
Philip Gollucci

Philip Gollucci

CEO/Founder at P6M7G8 Inc.

The Importance of Culture and Values When Building Teams

26 May

Elwin Lau, Director of Software at Jana, advocates the importance of maintaining culture within a company when scaling teams.

Mission / Vision / Charter
Scaling Team
Building A Team
Company Culture
Collaboration
Onboarding
Sharing The Vision
Elwin Lau

Elwin Lau

Director of Software at JANA Corporation