Category Archives: support group

One-on-Ones

The Bay Area Engineering Managers Support Group took a look at One-on-One meetings in February. I promised the group that I would publish my suggested agenda for a one-on-one as well some pointers to further reading. Here it is.

Here is a suggested agenda:

  • How are things going personally?
  • How are things going at work?
  • Action Item Report: Manager
  • Action Item Report: Report
  • Feedback (+ and/or -)
  • Annual Review Goals
  • Personalized News (down-flow)
  • Anything Else?
  • Action Items for Next Time

Here are some links for further reading and listening:

Manager Tools. Mark Horstman and Michael Auzenne do a good podcast series on management, and one-on-ones are one of the four parts of their management trinity (Their name not mine!). Here is link to some of their stuff related to one-on-ones, including a template that takes a different approach than I do.

Behind Closed Doors: Secrets of Great Management
I am lucky enough to know Johanna Rothman and Esther Derby, the authors of this book. There is some good stuff about one-on-ones in here.

How to Have Great One-on-ones, Leaders as Chief Conversation Facilitators

David Carlton on One-on-Ones.

Ed Gibbs talks about his experience using one-on-ones.

Details on the first agenda item.

Cheers!

Chris

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One-On-Ones
February Engineering Managers Support Group

Nothing influences motivation, satisfaction, and retention more than the relationship an engineer has with their manager. Give your direct reports your time and attention, show them that you value them for who they are, as well as for what they do, and they will go to the wall for you. One of the most effective tools for establishing this kind of rapport is the weekly one-on-one meeting.

We will discuss the elements of effective one-on-ones, including what should be on the agenda, how to schedule them, and where to have them. We will also discuss how to initiate one-on-ones if you aren’t already doing them. If you are doing one-on-ones, bring your experience and suggestions to share with the group.

We will be starting at 6:30 PM, and will once again enjoy the hospitality of Rearden Commerce, as they provide us with great facilities and tasty food.

Engineering Managers Support GroupFebruary Meetup
Wednesday, February 27th
Rearden Commerce World Headquarters
1051 E. Hillsdale Blvd
Foster City, CA 94404

6:30 – 7:00
Networking and food
Katie will be in the lobby to ferry folks up. If she’s not there when you arrive, you can hail her at: 650.619.7562.

7:00 – 8:00
We examine how to best implement weekly one-on-one meetings with your direct reports.

8:00 – 9:00
Round-table discussion of your engineering management issues
Bring your questions and get ideas and feedback from your fellow engineering managers.

Our Sponsors:
The Technical Management Institute (now Agile Learning Labs)
Rearden Commerce

RSVP Now!

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Retaining Key Contributors – Results

Last night a dozen technical leaders gathered for the Bay Area Engineering Managers Support Group to answer the question:

“What are the most effective steps a manager can take to retain key employees?”

The following guidelines where provided:

  • Consider this question from your own personal experience.
  • What were the things that kept you?
  • What effective measures did you take to retain people?
  • What things could have been done to keep you: “If only my manager had…I would have stayed.”

We used the Group Wisdom Without Groupthink technique to capture the experience and wisdom of the whole group. More than twenty ideas were generated and discussed. Each idea was given a short name, and posted on the wall. The group then ranked the ideas, based on their own real-world experience. The exercise took an hour.

Here are the results. Some of the names, such as “Giving Credit…” mean pretty much what you would think. Others, “Empowerment” for example, represent the groups best effort at summing up a much more in-depth and detailed idea. The ideas are presented as ranked by the group. I have left out a number of ideas that were considered but ultimately not selected by the group.

Tier One
Empowerment
Giving Credit, Recognition Both Public and Private
Create an Enjoyable Work Environment

Tier Two
Be a Buffer Between Senior Management
Willingness to Actually Lead
Proactive Problem Resolution
Tolerate Failure
Compensation

Tier Three
Clear Shared Vision
Mentoring for Professional Growth
Prioritize to Prevent Waste
Respect

Tier Four
Training
Match Interests to Roles
Be Accessible
Provide Tools for Success
Regular Performance Reviews

Looking at the results, I am struck by how similar they are to the results that have come from workshops that have sought to identify the qualities of a great manager. Results from some of those can be found here. This seems to support the idea that people stay or leave based primarily on their relationship with their manager.

Perhaps now is a good time to mention that I offer one-on-one coaching for engineering managers, as well as several workshops to help engineering managers succeed:
Managing Technical People
Coaching and Mentoring
Delivering Effective Feedback
Makings of a Great Technical Manager
and many more!

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Engineering Managers Support Group – January Meetup

Retaining Key Contributors: What Works…

… and What Doesn’t

Retaining key employees can make the difference between success and failure. This month we will examine what works, and what doesn’t work, when it comes to retention. Have an opinion? Some insight gained from experience? Join us on Wednesday, January 23rd. We will be starting a half-hour earlier, at 6:30 PM. We will once again enjoy the hospitality of Rearden Commerce, as they provide us with great facilities and tasty food. Rumor has it that we will be enjoying some fine Middle Eastern cuisine this month!

Engineering Managers Support GroupJanuary Meetup
Wednesday, January 23rd
Rearden Commerce World Headquarters
1051 E. Hillsdale Blvd
Foster City, CA 94404

6:30 – 7:00
Networking and Middle Eastern food
Seth will be in the lobby to ferry folks up. If he’s not there when you arrive, you can hail him at: 415.515.2654.

7:00 – 8:00
We examine the keys to retaining top talent, engaging the wisdom of the group.

8:00 – 9:00
Round-table discussion of your engineering management issues
Bring your questions and get ideas and feedback from your fellow engineering managers.

RSVP now!

Sponsored By:
The Technical Management Institute (now Agile Learning Labs)
Rearden Commerce

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Engineering Managers Support Group – New and Improved!

The The Bay Area Engineering Managers Support Group is celebrating our six month anniversary. Things have been good, and they are about to get even better…

New Sponsor!
I am proud to announce that Rearden Commerce has joined The Technical Management Institute in sponsoring The Bay Area Engineering Managers Support Group. The Rearden Personal Assistant has been described as doing for services what Amazon did for products.

New Location!
This month we will meet at Rearden’s world headquarters in Foster City. Some of the mapping sites, and meetup.com, want to call it San Mateo since 94404 covers both cities. Don’t worry about it. The address is 1051 E. Hillsdale Blvd, Foster City, CA 94404. It’s a shinny office tower between Foster City Blvd and Shell Blvd, across from the Foster City Fire Station, and just off of 92. Rearden’s offices are on the sixth floor. Park in front of the building, on the Hillsdale Blvd. side. Seth will be in the lobby to ferry folks up. If he’s not there when you arrive, you can hail him at: 415.515.2654.

New Food!
We will be enjoying some yummy Thai food. Make sure to arrive around 7:00 PM for best selection. There will be a variety for both vegetarians and meatetarians.

New Presenter!
Our opening topic will be: How to make performance reviews less painful and more effective. Joining me in creating and delivering this presentation is Richard Simone. Richard is an independent senior management consultant in the area of fabless semiconductor, and semiconductor design and development. He has held several VP and Director level positions over his career before founding his consultancy.

As Always
After the presentation, we will open up the meeting so that participants can bring their real-world issues to the group and get feedback and advice from the group.
Best of all, it’s still free. 🙂

RSVP Now!

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Engineering Managers Support Group – Tonight

The October 2007 Engineering Managers Support Group meeting is just a few hours away!

Where:
Round Table Pizza (event room)
61 43rd Ave
San Mateo, CA

Schedule:
7:00 PM Socializing and free pizza
7:30 PM Getting a New Hire Up and Running

You have found an ideal candidate; made them an offer, and they start in two weeks. Now what? I will share an approach that has worked for me, and some lessons learned as well. Please bring your experiences to share, and together we will unearth best practices for integrating new hires into the team.

After that, we will have a facilitated discussion where participants can share challenges that they are facing and get feedback, ideas, and support from the group. The event is free and so it the pizza! Come out, join the discussion, and become a better manager.

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Getting a New Hire Up and Running – October Engineering Managers Support Group

You have found an ideal candidate, made him an offer, and he starts in two weeks. Now what? At this month’s Engineering Managers Support Group meeting I will share an approach that worked well for me, and some lessons learned as well. Please bring your experiences to share, and together we will unearth best practices for integrating new hires into the team.

After that, we will have a facilitated discussion where participants can share challenges that they are facing and get feedback, ideas, and support from the group. The event is free and so it the pizza! Come out, join the discussion, and become a better manager.

We are meeting on Wednesday, October 24th, in San Mateo.
RSVP now

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The Most Important Qualities for an Engineering Manager to Possess

Last night, the Bay Area Engineering Managers Support Group examined the question “What are the most important qualities for an engineering manager to possess?” Each person was asked to answer the question based on their own experiences as a direct report. We went looking for the qualities that separated our best managers from the rest.

We used the Nominal Group Technique (NGT) to gather ideas, and then we sorted the results using Decision Optimizing Tiny Stickies (DOTS or Dot Voting). The result was a tiered list of valuable qualities, with ‘tier one’ being those that the group felt were most important.

A few days prior, I had run the same exercise with a different group. I’ll call them “Group X”. Below are the results from each.

September Bay Area Engineering Managers Support Group

Tier One
Delegation
Understand the product and the critical path

Tier Two
Establishes team culture
Takes ownership

Tier Three
Buffer between engineers and management
Strong decision-maker
Understand and communicate the business

Tier Four
Found ways for everyone to contribute
Good connector
Managing requirements
Plots the course to success
Runs good meetings

Tier Five
Always prepared
Available as a resource
Contingency planning
Good listener
Holds each person accountable for deliverables
Manages information flow
Motivator
Respected in the company
Sense of humor

Group X

Tier One
Smart

Tier Two
Finds ways for me to contribute
Gives constructive feedback
Goal and result oriented, not process oriented
Invites discussion
Mentor
Principled

Tier Three
Acknowledge the need for career growth
Budget conscious
Can Delegate
Grows people and promotes from within
Honest, trusted
Inspires me to believe in myself
Sets clear expectations
Shields me from BS
Team builder

Tier Four
Available, always has time for me
Believes in me
“Can do!” attitude
Clear communicator
Compassionate
Decisive and firm
Forthright, tells me what they really think
Good listener
Has my back
Humor
Lead by example
Not heavy-handed
Passion
Values learning

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September Engineering Managers Support Group

The Bay Area Engineering Managers Support Group will meet Wednesday evening, September 26 in San Mateo California.

We will start with a short presentation on NGT and DOTS. Nominal Group Technique (NGT) allows a group to quickly build a comprehensive list of ideas, issues, options or solutions. NGT works faster than traditional brainstorming, yet generates more complete and higher quality results. NGT prevents the quieter voices from being overwhelmed and allows each participant to contribute to their full potential.

The list of possibilities generated by NGT can be narrowed down to identify the best or most important ideas. In this workshop we will use Decision Optimizing Tiny Stickies (DOTS or Dot Voting). DOTS is an excellent way to map a group’s opinion. It engages the collective wisdom of the group, while avoiding groupthink. When faced with a choice between a variety of options, this technique facilitates a group decision that will have the broadest support.

This workshop will teach you how to use NGT and DOTS by applying them to the question “What are the most valuable attributes and skills for a technical manager to possess.” You will learn valuable tools for idea generation and decision-making, and gain a better understanding of what makes an engineering manager great.

After NGT and DOTS, comes a facilitated discussion where participants can share challenges that they are facing and get feedback, ideas, and support from the group. The event is free and pizza will be provided! Come out, join the discussion, and become a better manager.

Did I mention the free Pizza?

Please RSVP Here.

While you are on the Meetup site, take a moment and vote in our two open polls.

The Engineering Managers Support Group is sponsored by
The Technical Management Institute.

Cheers,

Chris

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Engineering Managers Support Group Tonight


You are invited. The Technical Management Institute (Now Agile Learning Labs) is buying the pizza. Tonight we will learn SWOT, and then move on to talking about your engineering management issues. Details here.

For those seeking more info on SWOT, here are some general SWOT links:

SWOT for your own career growth:

  • Quintessential Careers
  • Suite 101
  • Tech Republic
  • Monster
  • For Canadians!
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