Engineering manager: Growing your team is your job

3 steps to actively grow your team.

  • a technical advisor to guide complexity and tradeoff discussions
  • a project manager to track delivery of work
  • a coordinator to streamline non-blocking cross teams dependencies
  • a negotiator to fend off unrealistic requests from the other departments or founders
  • a company promoter to sell your organization to recruit talents
  • a pre and post-sale supporter to ensure potential and existing customers are happy with your product
  • a coach to ensure all your team members are happy and motivated
  • a mentor in your organization
  • a performance evaluator on a yearly or ad-hoc basis

I’ve concluded that 99 percent of what makes businesses successful comes down to people.

  • Employee growth discussion happens once a year
  • Employee growth is part of the review process
  • Employee growth = promotion
  • Promotion opportunities are annual cyclical.
  1. Create and define goals
  2. Set a baseline and remove assumptions
  3. Create a plan to achieve the goals and review the plan regularly

Create and define goals

You already do this regularly. Before you start a software project, you define what outcome you want. So the first step of the process is to define the scope of ownership and responsibility for your engineers.

Set a baseline and remove any assumptions

Once you have a working set of Growth Profiles, the next step is to bridge an individual contributor’s perception of work performance with yours, their manager. We call this process a Perception Exercise, where both an individual contributor and manager write down their own perception of an IC’s work performance.

  • Manager assigns their perceived performance level for an IC
  • The IC assigns their own perception of their performance.
  • Both manager and IC perceptions are done independent of each other.
  • Once the perception exercises are completed, the manager and IC meet to discuss symmetry or asymmetry in perception.
  • The perception exercises are an ideal opportunity for a manager to learn what employee growth means for their IC and establish the basic building blocks for employee growth conversations.

Create a plan to achieve the goals and review it regularly

The next step is to establish a growth plan comprehending of an ICs vision of growth, business impact, and viability.

  1. areas where manager perception is lower than employee perception
  2. areas where employee perception is lower than prescribed by growth profiles.
  3. areas where an employee is very strong at and aims to continue and improve upon those strengths
  1. Define the growth profiles
  2. Complete perception exercise
  3. Establish and regularly review your team member growth plans



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Helping teams grow and deliver. At Actagan, we help you focus on building relationships and do the tactical work for you.