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Ryan emphasizes the importance of building partnerships as an engineering manager. He highlights the key elements of a healthy partnership, such as mutual trust, collaboration, transparency, and shared responsibility. Ryan also encourages audience participation and shares examples and suggestions from the audience on how to strengthen partnerships, including maintaining a backlog of potential candidates for different roles and promoting cross-team communication and collaboration through guild meetings or centers of practice.

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Transcript from the "Building Partnerships" Lesson

[00:00:00]
>> All right, so we've gone through quite a bit on hiring. We could go deeper. Hiring is definitely a big part of an engineering manager's role, but we focused on thinking about what's needed on your team, what's needed for that particular role that you're hiring. We've hopefully built up some sort of thoughts and practices for writing job descriptions, building up an interview panel, and then the networking and sourcing.

[00:00:29] I'm curious for the audience, any networking and sourcing things that you've found useful that maybe I missed? Go ahead, Dustin.
>> From the chat, I'm a coding bootcamp grad who is now leading a team of developers, and staying in contact with the bootcamp's career support department has been a great way to have a funnel of great candidates for entry-level junior roles.

[00:00:50]
>> I love that, too, because also being someone coming from a bootcamp or coming right out of school, that's hard to find a job, right? And so if you already have that connection from like, yeah, this bootcamp works really well with the company, that's a great way to do that.

[00:01:08] I love that, great suggestion. Anything else? Yeah?
>> If I'm looking to just kind of generally expand a team, not looking necessarily for specialists, things like that. Yeah, I like that intern to full-time pipeline as well, of bringing on summer interns, things like that, and then bringing them on full-time eventually.

[00:01:29]
>> Those are great too. And even some companies have that kind of just someone's job is to focus on that, and that's really helpful too, to really help build that pipeline, I love that suggestion. All right, now, I mentioned this earlier, that I do feel that as part of your job as an engineering manager, even as an engineer, how do you build partnerships, right?

[00:01:54] That's really important. You're gonna rely on others across the company. Maybe you're working on similar projects together. You might have dependencies on a partner team that you need to get your job done effectively. So I wanna focus a little bit on how do you build partnerships? How do you make them strong?

[00:02:15] Let's start by what does a healthy partnership look like? For me, I think it's, there's mutual trust. You can trust one another, you feel comfortable working with one another. Your teams get along, there's collaboration. There's transparency and communication. Trust is absolutely really important, but I think being transparent and communicating and making sure that you are talking with partnering teams is huge.

[00:02:46] There should be a good alignment on goals. You're both trying to achieve things for the business, so that's probably a pretty good alignment right there. But you're depending on each other to deliver something. And so understanding each other's goals and motivations can go a long way. Sometimes I'll do this even in a one-on-one with, say, another engineering manager, is like what's your team trying to achieve?

[00:03:09] What are challenges that you're having? It might not even affect me in any way or my team, but it's helpful to know that, and maybe I can help. Maybe there's things where a partnering team is trying to hire a certain engineer that they're struggling with. And I'm like, wait, my network, I could probably find someone that fits that.

[00:03:28] And so I think building that alignment on things can really help in many ways to help one another. You have this shared responsibility of outcomes. Like I said, there's often times that you're working together to deliver something. You wanna make sure that you are lockstep, that you're able to understand what each part of the role plays, what's gonna be delivered, what are the timelines, and make sure that you're responsible for your outcomes.

[00:03:55] So couple items that we've covered for healthy partnerships, but I'm gonna lean on the audience here and anyone on the stream, I'm sure there's a lot of things that you all think about for building partnerships. What are things that you think are important or could help partnerships? Yeah?

[00:04:10]
>> Something as a candidate in the past that I've been kinda blown away by is lack of what they're doing. Which is, I interviewed, and they're like, you have great technical knowledge, but you're not the right fit for this role. And then they haven't maintained. And I had a friend who worked at the company, and they never maintained that backlog of engineers that were good, technically, and could fit on a different team, but they never maintain that to reach back out for another role.

[00:04:39]
>> That's a good one.
>> And that blew me away, that so many companies don't do it.
>> Yeah, I think even just that's where you can help partnering teams too, where I've absolutely done that, where I've interviewed someone, and I'm like, you're not quite a fit for this role, but you know what?

[00:04:55] There's this other team that you are absolutely a fit. And then probably gonna be more happy there too because it's so much more aligned. And so not only is that great for the candidate, going back to that candidate experience, but it's also great for your company and great for your partner, you just help them out.

[00:05:11] That's a good one. Anything else, yeah?
>> I think one thing is, me as the manager, I don't want to be the only one that maintains those partnerships. So I wanna make sure that my team is also having one-on-one time periodically with different partners that we work with.

[00:05:27]
>> Yeah.
>> And having that time to get to know each other and build that trust, because that doesn't necessarily always come freely. And so I think that's something that I push my team to be like, have you met with this person one-on-one? Do you know them? Do you know what they do from a day-to-day basis?

[00:05:42] That way, when we do have things that we have pressures and urgency, things like that, it all is a lot smoother.
>> I love that too. And I think you called it out really well too, is it takes a lot to build trust. You're speaking to that as it helps even having the team involved in that.

[00:05:57] It's really easy to break trust, right? That fails really fast, and so you wanna build up the trust. And you're gonna make mistakes, absolutely. And you'll have conflict between partnerships, but it's so much better if you have that baseline of strong trust and that you can work through it together.

[00:06:14] So I love that even involving the team. One more.
>> I was just gonna say, [COUGH] I've noticed in many companies I've been in that siloing tends to happen, where folks are very focused on their team and what their team is up to, but are a little more reticent to break out of that and kind of, like Emily said, build trusting relationships across teams.

[00:06:40] And one thing I found that's helpful with that is centers of practice. Or we have what we call guild meeting for front end developers, where we're intentionally getting folks together who might not talk to each other very often, but can share ideas, share things that their team is struggling with.

[00:06:55] Or what they're finding success with that might be adoptable by other teams, and how they might be able to coordinate training or adopting some of those strategies.
>> Yeah, a lot of it is really just connecting dots too, right? Knowing what other teams are working on and just being like, wow, connecting that dot.

[00:07:13] I will say one of my biggest pet peeves, especially in large companies, is having teams that create something that another team has already created or is doing, and that's that siloing. And it's so frustrating because you're like, wait, we just spent and wasted a lot of time when we could have collaborated or leveraged something that some other team has created.

[00:07:36] So finding those ways in which to share knowledge. I love the guild idea or pulling forums together. It's hard, cuz you don't always know what's the right thing to share? But the more you share, someone will connect that dot.