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How to Take Great Engineers & Make Them Great Technical Leaders • Courtney Hemphill • GOTO 2017

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💫 Short Summary

Courtney Hempel shares her journey transitioning from coding to managing teams, emphasizing general management skills for product success. Challenges include retaining technical teams and developing leadership skills, with a focus on effective communication and mentorship. Michael Dearing discusses the importance of clear communication and goal setting for entrepreneurs. Google's project Aristotle reveals the key factors for successful teams, emphasizing psychological safety and a learning-centric culture. Stitch Fix's model of microservices and mentoring leads to rapid growth and employee satisfaction. Peer-to-peer mentoring, pair programming, and feedback are essential for professional development. Radical Candor promotes a balance of personal care and challenging feedback in leadership. Feedback, retrospectives, and valuing team contributions are crucial for team dynamics and growth. Career progression options should include leadership and technical paths, with a focus on company culture and collaboration. Feedback, metrics, and career growth through collaboration and mentorship are key for team management and leadership development.

✨ Highlights
📊 Transcript
Courtney Hempel shares her journey from an individual contributor to leading teams and managing people.
She discusses the transition from solving code problems to solving people problems as an engineering manager.
Courtney emphasizes the importance of general management skills in creating effective teams and successful companies.
She highlights that resources and funding are not the only factors that lead to product success.
Courtney talks about the challenges faced in hiring and developing great technical leaders and managers.
Retaining technical teams is challenging due to high attrition rates and the need for internal resources to develop leadership skills.
Companies are transitioning to smaller, independent teams, creating a gap in general management skills.
Engineers can utilize their technical skills to solve people problems within teams.
Not everyone needs to be in a management role, and career progression should offer alternative options.
The speaker provides tools and experiences to help address challenges in team management.
Speaker's journey from non-CS background to engineering skills development at Carbon Five.
Transition from independent consulting to joining a larger team, focusing on pair programming and mentorship.
Interest in working with larger teams and clients, leading to management roles and challenges in team management.
Learning process compared to rock climbing terminologies, evolving from 'Gumby' to stable leader.
Transitioning from technical problems to managing human issues in the workplace.
Importance of communication and how software development skills can be applied to management.
Need for effective communication, mentorship, and learning from great cultures in management roles.
Significance of addressing human problems within teams and organizational culture.
Personal struggles and strategies for developing management skills based on experiences.
Michael Dearing's background in Silicon Valley, eBay, Walt Disney, and entrepreneurship.
Dearing teaches a class at Stanford for entrepreneurs and saw the need for general management education.
He invests in early-stage entrepreneurs and runs an educational school under Harrison Metal.
Dearing emphasizes clear communication, using tools like the pyramid principle from Barbara Minto to create effective arguments.
The pyramid principle helps convey complex ideas concisely in meetings or boardrooms, emphasizing brevity and clarity for impactful communication.
Importance of providing supporting details in communication.
Start with a clear situation, introduce complications and questions to drive discussion.
Use goal setting tools like Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) for alignment.
Think big and focus on quality when setting objectives.
Have regular check-ins and continual cadence to keep teams aligned and moving forward.
Key Highlights from Google's Project Aristotle
Successful teams have psychological safety, autonomy, shared accountability, and a learning-centric culture.
Positive team culture is critical for business success, while toxic cultures can be as harmful as product failures.
Actively shaping company culture is vital for long-term success and employee satisfaction.
Data-driven approaches to team management can improve team performance and business outcomes.
Stitch Fix utilizes data and algorithms for personalized online styling.
The company has 80 data scientists and 3,500 stylists working together since 2011.
A microservices approach supports rapid growth, enabling autonomous teams to make quick decisions and deploy code continuously.
This structure results in high development velocity and employee satisfaction.
Mentoring is a key focus for both internal and external individuals.
Importance of peer-to-peer mentoring, pair programming, and one-on-one meetings in professional development and problem-solving.
Peer mentoring involves seeking feedback from peers and learning from their experiences.
Pair programming aids in problem resolution by collaborating with others.
One-on-one meetings provide insight into team dynamics and individual challenges, benefiting both employees and managers.
Recommendations include seeking mentorship from experienced leaders like Michael Lop and joining online communities for support and knowledge sharing.
Importance of Authenticity and Human Connection at Work.
Fostering valuable relationships and investing time in developing them is crucial for success in the workplace.
Radical Candor by Kim Scott is recommended as a tool for effective leadership, promoting personal care and challenging individuals to improve.
Balancing personal care with challenging feedback is essential for helping employees grow and excel.
Overcoming societal norms of only saying nice things is encouraged to provide direct and constructive feedback for professional development.
Importance of feedback for team improvement and growth.
Addressing issues early to prevent negative impacts on team dynamics.
Conducting retrospectives at the end of the week for evaluating team performance.
Valuing team members' unique contributions and respecting each other in the workplace.
Implementing a 'product artboard' concept to align efforts with providing value to customers and the team's vision.
Importance of capturing metrics for understanding work performance.
Career advancement not always involving management.
Two paths for career progression within organizations introduced.
Emphasis on distinct titles, roles, and responsibilities for mentors in skill development and leadership.
Collaboration and mentorship as key components for career growth and skill development.
Importance of Career Progression Options within Companies.
Benefits of maintaining coding skills even in leadership roles.
Transitioning between management and technical roles is possible.
Balancing leadership responsibilities with technical contributions.
Engineers play a valuable role in driving organizational change.
Importance of Company Culture in Retaining Talent and Fostering Collaboration.
Taking initiative to address issues within the organization, such as development cycles and project initiatives, can lead to positive change.
Building from the ground up, involving multiple voices, and gaining buy-in for new strategies are emphasized.
Operating within a larger organization requires strategic timing and consideration of financial constraints.
Encouraging flexibility, experimentation, and lean operations can improve company dynamics, and balancing authority with peer relationships within teams is crucial.
Importance of feedback in team management.
Utilizing software and tools to facilitate feedback process.
Benefits of anonymous surveys and tailored communication methods for introverts.
Recognizing individual communication styles for effective leadership.
Adapting communication approaches for improved team dynamics.
Closing remarks and gratitude for audience participation.
The speaker apologizes for not being able to answer all questions due to time constraints.
Expresses gratitude for the engaging questions from the audience.
Indicates a break is needed.
Segment ends with applause from the audience.