Elevate Spring Summit has been announced (Thu, Mar 11th)

🔥


Don't have an account? 

The Power of the Reframe

Personal growth
Internal Communication
Impact
Productivity
Coaching / Training / Mentorship

29 February, 2020

Evan Carmi, Engineering Manager at Airbnb, delves into using reframing as a technique that can help his direct reports see challenges as opportunities to become more productive and confident.

Problem

Reframing is a powerful technique that helps us see a different view of a situation, event, and/or person and could be highly impactful when used in our workplace. I often wonder how I could support my direct reports when they are feeling discouraged, frustrated and/or disappointed with how a project is going or when they are trying to learn a new skill and are grappling with self-imposed expectations. For example, how can I help one of my reports who is stepping into the new role and wants to do it right the first time?
 

Actions taken

First off, I let them articulate their current way of thinking about the problem -- “I have a new role and I want to do it right the first time.” They would perceive any variation of that scenario as a failure. The first part of reframing would be to expand the horizon from which they are assessing their success or failure. Expanding the horizon means accepting that success means learning rather than knowing the right away. Having the answer right away can even be harmful as it entrenches you into one mode of dealing with that problem and curtails your potential to grow. The ability to learn is more important than having a certain skill set as a trajectory is more important than a single point in time. Because eventually, you will stumble across a problem to which you won’t have an answer and your ability to learn and adjust in changing circumstances is more important than the answer itself.
 

The second part of reframing focuses on your ability to learn from past experiences. How do I evaluate what worked and what didn’t? How should I approach my peers and/or managers to learn more from my experience? I’m a big believer in an approach that favors resilience and anti-fragility -- a perspective that champions stressors and emphasizes their importance in our personal and professional growth.
 

I prefer to apply reframing in one-on-ones where I can listen and understand the challenging aspects of one’s experience. Validating someone’s experience is crucial and only after that, you can try to open someone to another perspective. It’s a huge leap one should be ready to take. If one is not ready, you need to dedicate more time to listening and validating because it will go past them if they are not ready.
 

Lessons learned

  • The opportunity to learn and grow is always present. Any setback and/or challenge could be perceived as an opportunity. Reframe essentially means redefining success and being comfortable with mistakes we are making while we are developing our capacity to learn.
  • Before jumping to fixing or solving anything, validate what someone feels/thinks. When people are immersed in their own frustration and believe no one understands them, your opinion won’t land the way you hoped.

Related stories

Learn or Die!
12 January

Marian Kamenistak, VP of Engineering at Mews, outlines key recommendations and resources to make learning an integral part of the engineering role and knowledge sharing across the company a steady practice.

Personal growth
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Marian Kamenistak

Marian Kamenistak

VP of Engineering at Mews

Creating an In-House Mentorship Program
11 January

Sabeen Syed, Senior Engineering Manager at HashiCorp, shares her efforts to single-handedly establish an in-house mentorship program.

Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Sabeen Syed

Sabeen Syed

Senior Engineering Manager at HashiCorp

How to Level Up Your Design Team
5 January

Dmitry Nekrasovski, Senior Manager of Product Design at HashiCorp, shares how he helped his design team level up by applying a simple, three-step approach.

Leadership
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Dmitry Nekrasovski

Dmitry Nekrasovski

Senior Manager, Product Design at HashiCorp

How to Deal With a Junior Engineer Who Is Resolute on Rewriting the Code
12 January

Roy Pereira, CEO at Zoom.ai Inc., shares how to deal with a junior engineer who -- for whatever reason -- is resolute on rewriting the code without a more profound understanding of the implications of their proposal.

Juniors
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Roy Pereira

Roy Pereira

CEO at Zoom.ai Inc.

Managing Team Conflict and Helping Engineers Gain Confidence
28 December

Jack Kora, VP of Engineering at dscout, shares how he helped one of his reports to overcome interpersonal conflict in the workplace and gain confidence.

Conflict solving
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Jack Kora

Jack Kora

VP of Engineering at dscout

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.