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Recently I had a roundtable discussion with my engineers on what makes a great engineer. What are the traits that you would like to see in yourself or your peers? What was interesting is that there is no standard accepted definition or trait. Everyone had their own unique perspective and thoughts on who they would like to work with.

The following are some of the skills that we discussed engineers need. …

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Last year, I wrote a post after about 6 months being a manager of a rather large team (two pizzas would definitely not be enough to feed them). I wrote about the types of questions I ask during 1:1s. Here’s a little update as to why you shouldn’t really follow my advice anymore.

Following a Template will not Help Your Team Grow

If you’re looking for templates questions for your 1:1s, don’t. It’s great as a first-time manager to start somewhere, but as soon as you have more experience, you realise that a template of questions that you ask everyone is not really effective for growth.

You want to tailor and look for how you can improve the strengths/weaknesses of your team. I don’t really want to hear status updates during 1:1s. We have daily standups for that. I also don’t want to hear the same thing you told me last week (unless it’s actually something that hasn’t improved). I want to hear what’s really bothering the person. …

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Unfortunately, the world has gone a bit upside down over the last few months. We’ve seen countless layoffs across many different industries and countries. Now, more than ever, we’re also seeing leaders truly emerge and help their people navigate through the choppy waters.

Be Clear

One thing I’ve now noticed that great leaders like Jacinda Ardern (Prime Minister of New Zealand) have done, is that they are really clear and direct about what they say. People understand them and the thoughts behind the policies or words.

As a leader in these crazy times, please remember to be clear with your teams. Let them know the reasons behind the decisions you make. Speak over multiple channels (email, slack, video, voice) while you are remote so your message is heard. …


Alex Aitken

Writer and engineering manager @ Traveloka //

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