Transcript from the "Measuring Team Performance" Lesson
>> All right, so we talked about measuring projects and like work earlier, but how do you know your team is performing? It's not necessarily easy. I think it gets to some of these more qualitative things. There's clear goals and alignment on the work. People know what they're supposed to do.
[00:00:25] There's not a lot of ambiguity. Or if there is ambiguity, they know how to work through it. Cuz I know there's times where I'm putting people on projects where I'm like, I don't know all the details that need to get worked out. Here's the goals, so what we're trying to achieve.
[00:00:40] And I want people to have the autonomy to figure it out. I don't want to dictate it to them. But it's not this completely ambiguous thing that they're trying to figure out all sorts of ends, that's hard. But if you can say, yeah, here's the problem at hand.
[00:00:56] I don't want to be prescriptive on how you solve that, but I am pointing them in a decent enough direction, hopefully. Sometimes I don't, and maybe I need to get more clarity on something. Your team is executing, they're delivering, they're meeting their timelines. Not perfectly, that's okay. We have slips, things happen.
[00:01:18] One thing I always ask my team is if you say that you're going to have something done, August 15, let's just throw a random date and it's coming up on that timeline end of July. You're like, I am going to miss that timeline because there was some dependency I didn't account for, whatever it is.
[00:01:36] Just communicate it. Let's have a conversation on that. Have a conversation with your stakeholders, partners, whoever's involved. Maybe you can cut scope because you still need to make that August 15 deadline. Or maybe it's like, let's just ship two weeks later. But I'd rather that than August 15 come up and my team is like, yeah, we didn't make that timeline.
[00:01:58] Like, okay, why didn't you raise that sooner? So I think it's like, yeah, as long as you're executing and delivering. This is one of my favorite ones, absolutely one of my favorite ones is people tell you. They're like, hey Ryan. Jem is doing awesome. I can't believe how impressive what he just shipped and this is amazing.
[00:02:20] I love hearing that. It's like the unsolicited positive feedback is great. People will tell you when things are bad too. Oftentimes they don't necessarily, getting that positive feedback goes above and beyond and you really hear that, that's huge. Not hearing feedback isn't necessarily meaning that your team isn't performing.
[00:02:40] They're probably meeting the expectations, but hearing this unsolicited positive feedback is huge. I think every individual on your team should impress you. I take a look at my team and I'm like, yeah, I really like what this person's doing or not. And if time and time again someone's not really quite there, I would say maybe it's like they're kind of mediocre or some feeling.
[00:03:07] They're doing their job, but are they impressing me and the team? And those are things to think about. And it's hard It's not something that you're like have a checklist to make sure that they're impressing you or the team. This one came up earlier, but your team is excited about the work, there's passion.
[00:03:28] They want to kind of strive to make things better. They're excited. They're not just, yeah, yeah, we need to do this for the business, we get it, whatever. That's not gonna last long and you're not doing your best work. Individuals on your team should be growing. They should be growing their skills, their impact.
[00:03:49] It doesn't have to be huge. They might try new challenges, but over time you should see them growing, that they are getting better at something they're doing and love. Or they're trying some new challenging thing they've never done. But there should be some sign of growth from individuals on your team.
[00:04:08] And guess what, that's part of your job as an engineering manager to maybe help with that growth. It's not entirely on you. I absolutely say it's a joint partnership, but I do think you should be seeing growth from people. This is a good one too. There should be room for healthy debate.
[00:04:27] You should be challenging each other in team meetings, approaches, in poll requests. But you want it to be healthy. You want that trust that people are able to be vulnerable, to be wrong, make mistakes. And when it's toxic, you'll know it. And I've been there, where it's like, people are just having heated debate, hating this person's approach, and it's really not great for anyone in the team.
[00:04:53] Even if it's just two people butting heads, and you need to address that quickly. A lot of things on you know, how do you know your team is performing, but I'm sure there's a lot of things I've missed. These are some of the things that I look for.
[00:05:06] Curious to the audience, what are things that you all look for? Or think of it in a team that you're in, that you know that it's performing well, yeah.
>> I think the unsolicited feedback from other people. I think unsolicited positive feedback within the team is a good key sign.
>> Yeah, I've seen on teams and I've done this on my own, where even just having kudos in team meetings and things like that. And just kind of leaving that open ended for someone to be like, thanks Mark helped me on this pull request, unblocked me so well, and just being able to celebrate those things are really cool.
[00:05:47] I like that one, good.
>> Yeah, to add on to the individuals that are growing their skills and impact. Also helping grow the skills of your coworkers, being a mentor and bringing-
>> Having everybody kind of level up.
>> Yeah, giving back and like also leveling up other people's skills when you're like, I'm really good at hiring, I want to go help others do that, that's awesome.
[00:06:12] And also your team is thankful for it too cuz they're getting better at something as well. I like that.
>> This kind of fits into the room probably debate, but having a psychologically safe team and meetings and all that and culture. One of the highest performing teams I've been a part of, we were relentless and pretty ruthless in terms of our candor, in terms of this thing's not ready to work on, moving on.
[00:06:41] We're not gonna waste time on it until it's ready.
>> Yeah, and that's something that takes time. But as a manager, I think there's ways in which you can help foster that psychological safety. I do cover that I think in the feedback portion too cuz I think that's really important to just be able to be comfortable giving one another feedback is there has to be that psychological safety and vulnerability too.
>> That seems to me like a bit of a loaded term, psychological safety, because I've heard it used in several different contexts, meaning completely things, right? So from my perspective, a high performing team is debating about the right things. They're putting the end user experience or the product first.
[00:07:33] And then they're debating over like, what is the best way to accomplish that? Rather than, I don't know, there's other interpretations of that. I think to me it means it's okay to fail, it's okay to give feedback. You're not possessive over your idea, it's like we're trying to make the best idea when and we're trying to learn from each other, we're all on the same team.
[00:08:01] And I think that that's what it means to me and that's what I've seen it's used good. But I've also seen the reverse where it's used in a way it's not that, it's something completely different. I don't know, you know what I mean?
>> Yeah, no, I think you the way you define it is absolutely the way I think about it in a team dynamic and just feeling comfortable to make mistakes, give feedback, and without repercussion, right?
[00:08:29] I like what you said Mark on the your end state, you're building a user experience, you're building a product, it's for your users or whatever it may be, and that's your common goal, right? And there's different approaches to get there. And I might really wanna do this one technical approach or use this library and someone else's passion about this other library.
[00:08:51] And it's okay that we disagree on that, but how do you come to gather on that? And it's working through the trade-offs. Neither one of those is probably the right answer. There's no perfect solution, but how can you kind of get there and feel comfortable doing that together?
[00:09:05] And then just being like, yeah, you're right, I'm wrong. Let's go with that approach.
>> At least I respect your decision.
>> That too, yes.
>> You respect your colleague's intelligence and be like, yeah, let's try that. And let's go down that path. And if it doesn't work, then we'll try my idea.
>> It's fine, we just need to start somewhere, and yeah, that's the best co-worker experience ever is when people are just not so possessive over their choice, or whatever. It's like, hey, yeah, let's try that, maybe it is. Let's go forward.
>> Here's another one, too.
[00:09:47] Even if you go with that said approach, it's actually the wrong one in the end state. If you don't need to be that person I told you so. Right, cuz that's not great either. It's like cool, I mean, we tried that, I was on board with that, even though I had another approach.
[00:10:01] I agreed we went down that road and it's a team dynamic to go back the other way if we need to.
>> And if you handle that correctly, guess what, they're gonna trust you more the next time. That decision needs to be made. So you're building trust over time if you're not holding it over somebody else.
>> Absolutely, so it is all these things, it's healthiness, and trust, and everything. And yeah, being able to be vulnerable too, is like, I don't know how to write this, or deal with this library. Can you help me? And not feeling like you're getting judged for that. Cuz we all have different skill sets and as a team, we wanna lean on one another for that.
>> Mistakes also produce growth is something someone said, so then identifying them must be okay and be available for learning or places where the team can learn. Someone else said in their opinion, it also means that people are not afraid to prioritize input and participate in the conversations.
[00:10:59] They know that they won't get bashed when they make a mistake or when they even make the smallest mistake and someone else responded. Feedback produces growth. It's not necessarily a threat and it should be expected to be received.
>> So many good points there. I have comments on a few of them.
[00:11:22] To the feedback one, I truly believe feedback is a gift. It may seem cheesy, but it is. I'm not giving someone feedback because I wanna slam them. I probably will avoid, if I don't want someone to get better, I'm probably not gonna even bother giving the feedback cuz it's not easy to give feedback.
[00:11:39] It is actually work. And to me, I'm like, I'm giving someone feedback cuz I see something that I think they can do better at and I want to help them get better. So that's a good one. And then on the mistakes, I think about it is maybe as a leader, can you celebrate mistakes and really just encourage that make that it's okay.
[00:12:00] I often try and just share my own stupid mistakes and try and make people okay with that. And it's helpful to do that,is just putting yourself out there and it encourages others to do the same.