Protecting My Team From Overtime
11 July, 2018
I was working as a team leader for a five-person development team. One day, our senior management demanded for my team to work during the holidays to finish part of a development project. The team stayed to develop and build it. However, the work they had done was ultimately only used three months later. The project hadn't been nearly as urgent as our senior management team had said and this really frustrated my team.
The second time, when a similar situation happened, I decided to have a meeting with the company's CEO. I was very firm with him and explained that unless I was certain that a project was urgent enough that it couldn't be postponed, I wasn't going to let me team over the weekend. I explained that this was because I didn't want to make them work extra when it wasn't essential because then when I really needed their help, they wouldn't trust what I was saying about its urgency. The CEO and I ended up in a fight and yelled back and forth. He told me that if he asks for a team to stay, then they would have to stay. I argued back, saying they wouldn't stay because there was no point in keeping them - the product wouldn't be deployed for at least two months. The two days he wanted me to take away from them wouldn't help the project but would hurt morale and the team's perception of us as managers. After the meeting, I told my team to leave at the end of the workday, and they did. When I got home, I saw an invite for an HR meeting, scheduled for 9 am on a Monday morning. After the fight I had had with the CEO, I was sure that I was going to be in huge trouble, if not fired, so I spent the weekend trying to work out what other jobs I could do. I walked into the meeting, and my manager, the HR manager, and my CEO were sitting there. They then told me that they had thought about what I had said and that they wanted to give me a management position because I had stood up for my team. I quickly went from the team lead of just one team of five people to managing six teams.
Don't be afraid to stand up for yourself or your team when you know you're right. We always think about how to handle interactions with people more senior to us, but sometimes we need to protect the people who work for us from the people who manage us.
Maria Petrova, Principal Product Manager at Zalando details how she strategically mapped out features using a KPI tree to drive measurement, ultimately helping the development team understand their role.
Principal Product Manager at Zalando
Tarani Vishwanatha, Senior Engineering Manager at Scribd, shared a story where he dealt with the conflict of an upset engineer that did not get a promotion he believed he was entitled to. He explains the distinction between being the most technical and being well rounded. Vishwanatha talks about the importance of being self-aware as it's essential to career growth.
Senior Engineering Manager at Scribd
Stefan Gruber, VP of Engineering at Bitmovin, shares how he successfully mediated the conflict between two of his employees.
VP of Engineering at Bitmovin
Tarani Vishwanatha, Senior Engineering Manager at Scribd, tells the story about how he helped create a change that helped his company solve a problem that was slowing their ability to grow faster. He learned about the necessary approaches to implement change and how to account for everyone that will be impacted by those changes. It can be challenging to appease everyone while satisfying the stakeholders and leadership.
Senior Engineering Manager at Scribd
Tim Sears, now partner at tweag.io, talks about his time spent as Vice President of Data Science & Engineering at Target. He tells us about the challenges he faced while helping Target build Machine Learning into many aspects of their business. A key component of his solution was to find a way to bridge communication gaps and ensure all the important things *do* get discussed.
Vice President, Data Science & Engineering at fp4ai
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.