How to Become a Great Engineering Leader, Former IBM Tech Exec Shares
As an engineering leader, have you ever asked these questions?
You start with a small team of engineers, the company grows with time, and so does the team.
While this is happening, how do you ensure that productivity does not get hampered? How do you build the team bond? How do you ensure that new hires don’t feel like they are just an inconsequential part of this massive team?
Most importantly, how do you become a great engineering leader in the process?
Aviv Ben Yosef, ex-IBM Tech Exec, answers all of the above questions in this post.
A great engineering leader will figure out the WIFM for their team.
Yosef says that he always keeps in mind the WIFM or What’s In For Me whenever he tries to make changes to his organization.
Ass an engineering leader, you should always ensure that your team understands how the said change will positively affect them.
Remember, no tech executive should change an existing process unless beneficial for the team and the company.
So, make sure you go over the WIFM and have definite answers ready for your engineers.
Try to retain talent but allow a healthy turnover.Most companies try hard to retain their employees for as long as possible. But, Yosef suggests that engineering leaders should accept and allow a healthy turnover now and then.
Companies try to stop employees from quitting by introducing new positions or responsibility sets that the organization does not require.
Yosef calls these developments a corporate debt that affects the team and hinders productivity.
He insists that letting off some employees and hiring new ones can be beneficial in such cases.
Yosef also emphasizes hiring junior and medium engineers rather than hiring senior engineers all in all. Hiring good senior engineers can be challenging and pricey.
Instead, he explains that companies should hire junior and medium engineers and train them to the required level.
As an engineering leader, try to understand your role in the company and prioritize accountability.Yosef advises looking deeper into this question for anyone who is a new engineering leader/ manager or becoming one soon: “Why does the company need me?”
You should be very clear about the benefits that you’ll provide to the company. In Yosef’s words: “You should know that you’re a force multiplier for the company, and be clear about your objectives and goals.”
A true engineering leader holds accountability and responsibility. If something great happens, they share the credit with their team, Yosef says.
But, if something goes sideways, they can take responsibility for the mess-up and guide the company in the right direction.
Never underestimate one-on-onesAs an engineering leader, these meetings may not seem essential, but Yosef states that one-on-ones should be the most crucial thing in your calendar. They help your team members become a better version of themselves.
“You will have to invest time in the people around you. Without constructive criticism and feedback, growth is extremely challenging,” adds Yosef.
Yosef adds that the one-on-ones should not just be about the manager giving the employees feedback. Leaders must listen to their employees and try to ease out their pain points.
So, what makes someone a great engineering leader?
A great engineering leader always knows their purpose and role in the organization. They are a beacon of light for every employee. They trust their employees wholeheartedly, and vice versa. They may have a team of experts working under them, but they always have sound knowledge and experience about the product they’re working on.
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