Engineering Manager Series Week 4

Hi everybody, it’s end of a sunny Sunday in Istanbul. Spring appeared in a flash; sun energized all of us.

As I promised, this week’s featured articles on accountability, low and high performers of the team.

HBR: Does your team have an accountability problem? shares some notes about accountability. At any point, I believe it’s important to first check ourselves. As mentioned in the article people do not go in the wrong direction intentionally. The following questions can be a good check before reaching the person/team.

Have I been clear about my expectations?

Have I asked what I can do to help?

Have I taken time to brainstorm and review processes?

Have I built a plan of action with my team member?

The second step is “Create a safe environment for the other person.“.

“Avoid jumping directly into critical feedback or using judgmental language such as, “Why would you…”, “You should have…”, or “That’s wrong.” It helps to assume positive intent in the other person. The goal here is to listen and to remain genuinely open to their “take” on things.

Listening, paying attention, and understanding the needs and motivations of the other person will help you put aside any assumptions you may be making about their character. You may discover that they are not “lazy,” “incapable,” or “unreliable,” but rather, that they are unclear on organizational goals, and therefore, are not properly prioritizing projects. “

This comes to our minds a broader term “Psychological Safety”. People should feel safe to share their explanation. Anyway, the easiest way is to behave how you want to be treat. But if we define it’s meaning, following Forbes article can help us.

Psychological safety is the ability to show and employ one’s self without fear of negative consequences of self-image, status or career. In the workplace, it is a shared belief held by members of a company, department or team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.

Organizational behavioral scientist Amy Edmondson of Harvard first introduced the construct of “team psychological safety” and defined it as “a shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk taking.” 

In her TEDx talk, Edmondson offers three simple things individuals can do to foster team psychological safety:
– Model curiosity and ask lots of questions.

Frame the work as a learning problem, not an execution problem.
Acknowledge your own fallibility.

Let’s return to accountability. The following steps;
Ensure that there is clarity and a mutual agreement on how to move forward. 
Commit to setting those you work with up for success. 
Regularly track and measure progress. 

For the last, I’m about to hear but how? The article shares some best best practices:

Roles and responsibilities write-ups (to use as references)

Scorecards (to measure outcomes)

Regular progress check-ins (to give feedback)

Metric dashboards (to track performance)

Weekly meetings (to stay aligned)

Process write-ups (to gauge what is working and what is not)

Checklists (to stay organized)

Project plans (to outline future goals)

Well, with the additional explanations, it took more than I expected so I leave the low and high performer topics to the next week.

If you found the article helpful, you can rate/share(under the videos), claps(at the top of the article) or make comment so I can improve my series. See you at the next post!

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