Learn to Know Whether Your Employee is a Kite or an Airplane
6 December, 2017
I hired an employee at the end of August who seemed to be very smart and who made some very insightful comments. I thought that since he was very smart, he would work well when given leeway, just like my other high performers. However, I realized that in spite of him being intelligent, he did not produce anything. In December, he had made no progress on the small to medium tasks I had given him in September.
We scheduled a performance improvement plan, and together we decided on six tasks that were already on his plate, which he would either have to accomplish within three weeks, or we would have to let him go. As soon as we set written goals with strict deadlines, he became more efficient. Unfortunately, only two of his objectives were accomplished at the end of the performance improvement plan, so I had to let him go.
I have come to the conclusion that there are two extremes of personalities to manage, with a spectrum of personalities in between. Some people are airplanes. They only need their manager to show them the landing point and they will manage their tactic and their time to reach that point. Other people are kites, and their managers must have a hold on them in order for them to work well, or at all. In this specific case, I could either have spent months trying to turn this person into a plane, which is what the company culture required him to be, or I could pick one of the several great applicants waiting to work at Trello. After this episode, I've changed the way I interview so that I can better identify how much guidance people will need.
JJ Fliegelman, CTO at WayUp, shares how he successfully set up a self-sustaining structure that allowed him to avoid the trap of being too in the weeds and being a blocker to the team, and instead focus on strategic objectives and opportunities.
CTO at WayUp
Sameer Kalburgi, VP of Engineering at Fieldwire, debunks the hidden meaning behind the recurring requests for transparency and shares how he managed to enhance collaboration with other stakeholders by drawing his team’s boundaries clearly.
VP of Engineering at Fieldwire
Sameer Kalburgi, VP of Engineering at Fieldwire, discusses how managing managers, unlike managing ICs is, to the largest extent, a matter of style.
VP of Engineering at Fieldwire
Kevin Perko, Head of Applied Research and Data Science at Scribd, discusses how he made his employee successful by helping them transition into a more suitable and challenging role.
Head of Applied Research / Data Science at Scribd
Raghavendra Iyer, Head of Engineering at ReachStack, discusses how setting up measurable goals and providing structured learning can help your employees expand their knowledge and skills.
Head of Engineering at ReachStack
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.