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Relying on Sub-Managers to Improve and Optimize

Large Number Of Reports
New Manager

27 May, 2021

Daniel Archer

Daniel Archer

VP of Engineering at Ritual

Daniel Archer, Vice President of Engineering at Ritual, values the insight of his sub-managers when improving the way that he manages his entire team.

Problem

When managing a large team, I find that the opportunity to truly understand what any individual deals with on a day-to-day basis decreases. It becomes more challenging to foster a sense of empathy when not face-to-face with the team member in question and the work that they do.

Actions taken

I recently planned an engineering team all-hands meeting and invited leaders on the team to contribute their visions for their squads. They outlined specific planned initiatives, how we work with and collaborate with others, and the ways in which they were tracking our goals were laid out clearly. Challenges that each one faced, such as the need for one team to focus more on monitoring and logging, for example, gave them some idea of what they should be working on over time.

It became a matter of: “Here is our vision. Here is where we’re placing our investments.” We also leveraged breakout rooms to gain some feedback - how can we strengthen the ways that we collaborate in a distributed team? We came away with some great ideas and action items, as well as opinions that our team really needed to voice. New hires became acclimated with more of the team and were able to brainstorm with other employees more effectively.

Lessons learned

  • Pushing feedback and concerns up to the top and simply waiting for results passively, in my opinion, leads many teams to failure. Taking a step back and looking at things from a long-term perspective periodically showed us where we were going as a team inside and out. Speaking to these challenges made me more prepared for the next round of evaluation, bringing forth even more helpful feedback as a result.
  • Increasing the visibility of core team metrics like cycle time or review cycles made it clear to our employees why we track these things and how they help us all in our daily work. This helped us implement changes that allowed everyone to work more effectively.
  • The organization became more informed on how to manage our growing company when everything was broken down in this way. Resources were able to be allocated much more wisely through this new source of insight.

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