If you are joining a team, or have new folks join yours, onboarding is crucial. During this period, you must share expectations and build trust.
A useful technique to kickstart this process, that has been recently adopted by Engineering Managers across the industry, is to create and share Manager READMEs. A Manager README is an operating manual that serve as your introduction to new teams and new hires.
Below I’m posting a medium friendly version:
My Manager README
Hola, I’m Edgar, as your manager, I look forward to getting to know you more through conversations and interactions. To give you a head start in knowing me I’d like to share my management style, philosophy, expectations and some information about myself.
This is a living document, which will change. Please let me know if you have any feedback on how to make this more useful to you and the team.
- Provide context
- Engage, retain, and grow world-class talent (that’s you!)
I’m here to help, empower and support you, to set context for what you’re working on, and to advocate for you and the team with the rest of the company.
I’m a believer in Servant Leadership. I serve you, not the other way around. I’m always available to assist. Ask me.
You work for the company, not for me. Optimize for the company. I’m making mistakes, and I want to improve just like you. Hold me accountable. Tell me.
My calendar is full of meetings, however you are always welcome and encouraged to drop a meeting on my calendar (you don’t need to ask first).
If you want or need to talk to me, and my schedule is not open, DM me on Slack and I’ll make time.
Process and Software Development
People build software, not the other way around. As such I prefer to adjust process to meet the needs and goals of our people. This frees us to do our best work for the company we work for. At the end of the day, this is what I value:
- I value transparency about what happened, what’s happening, and what’s going to happen.
- I value growth and learning. Fail fast and learn. Experiment with clear goals and tight feedback loops. Help others learn by sharing your own journey and keeping a low ego.
- I value your time and will do my best to ensure it is not wasted. I expect the same from you. I don’t want you to do any process that is neither beneficial to you nor required by law, policy, etc.
- I value proactivity and self-organization. I have no desire to make every decision myself, I’m sure you don’t want me to either.
- I value stability and consistency.
- I value critical thinking. Nothing is sacred and we don’t do anything “because we’ve always done it that way”.
- I value intentionality, we have too much to do for any of it to be random.
- I value empathy. Having empathy for your co-workers will help us to build strong teams.
I will work to be as open as possible about what’s going on with our team, department, and the company. You can ask me anything. The vast majority of the time I’ll answer. Very infrequently, I won’t be able to. But I’m committed to never lying to you.
More than any other factor, candid and compassionate feedback is central to a cohesive high-functioning team.
I prefer to receive direct feedback. I’m committed to providing you clear and timely feedback, and I’d love it if you did the same for me.
Three dimensions are required for people to continue to give you feedback:
- Safety (unlikelihood of being punished for giving feedback; should be high)
- Effort (The amount of work in order to give feedback, also known as “how much do you argue when people give you feedback?”; should be low)
- Benefit (how likely is it that giving you feedback will materially impact your behavior? should be high)
Let me know if I don’t do well on any of these three dimensions.
These meetings are for you and the agenda is what you make it. What is it you’d like to talk to me about? What’s exciting you? What’s frustrating you? What could I do today that would make you happier or more productive? We don’t need to talk about project status in this meeting, unless you want to. I’ll ask questions and provide feedback along the way, but this is your time.
The length, frequency, and medium are also up to you, but my hope is that we’ll have at least 30 minutes each other week. This is only a minimum though, and not a maximum.
I value work/life balance in my own life and yours. Most folks work between about 9:30am (at the earliest) to 6pm (at the latest), and unless there’s an emergency, I don’t expect to communicate with you outside of these hours with respect to your local time. I try not to respond to e-mails or slack during off-hours and under no circumstances expect you to, unless it’s an emergency.
I’ve written a lot here about my philosophies but a fair amount of my job is adapting to your needs and philosophies, and I look forward to talking to you about them!