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Rachael Stedman on IC Manager Work

Lead Time Chats: Season 2, Episode 5 Takeaways

July 14, 2021

In Season 2, Episode 5 of Lead Time Chats, Jean Hsu, VP of Engineering at Range, chats with Rachael Stedman, engineering manager at Asana, about IC manager work, or work that engineering managers do outside of directly supporting their team.

Rachael and Jean discuss:

  • When to focus on supporting your team as a manager, versus investing in longer-term, more strategic initiatives
  • Finding initiatives that you’re personally excited about and that give you energy
  • Benefits of organizing a task force around initiatives versus doing it alone
  • The importance of sharing updates on initiatives, same as you would for other projects.
  • Taking on projects to create a role for yourself that is energizing and enjoyable

Additional resources:

Takeaways from Rachael

Find projects you’re personally passionate about, that give you energy

“A lot of the things that I end up working on are because I'm personally excited about them, and they give me energy. If there's like a prioritized list of what's most impactful for the org and you're most excited about number three. I think it's better to do that than go after number one, if it's something that you're excited about. This is where a lot of magic happens, 'cause you have these individuals who are personally very passionate about an area and they do something very creative or different because they're excited about it. And they're bringing a lot of energy and momentum to that initiative that otherwise wouldn't be there.”

New managers should focus on people management first, before taking on IC Manager work

“When you first transition into management, like a hundred percent of your bandwidth is going towards figuring out how to be a good people manager, and I think that's totally okay. You  don't necessarily need to rush the process of looking beyond. But then after someone starts really like building that muscle, feeling more comfortable with those sort of core people management skills and running one-on-ones and talking about career growth with their reports, I might start saying like, "Oh, this is something you're passionate in. And here's like an area that could use you. What do you think?"  I'll try to sort of highlight or bring opportunities to folks so that there's something that really ignites their excitement. That's where the magic happens.”

There’s so much to do and no shortage of opportunities, so speak up and find people to collaborate with

“Concretely if you're seeing a problem, whether it was formally found or you're just seeing it and you wanna tackle it starting to talk to people about it. And if you're not sure whether you'll have support, talking to your manager about it. Like, "Hey, this is something I'm thinking of taking on. Who do you think the core stakeholders are? Is anyone going to scream if I start doing stuff on this?" And when you get those names, go talk to those people. Most of the time, I actually haven't run into a situation where this wasn't the case yet, where if there's something that someone else is like already started working on, and you come to them and you're like, "Hey, like I've noticed this problem too. And I'm really excited to work on it," they're gonna be like, "Yes, please. Join me," not like, "Stop working on it." There's usually so much to do, there's no shortage of opportunities. If they're already working on it, they're probably going to really welcome any kind of help and momentum around something that they care about.”

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About Lead Time Chats

Listen in on unscripted conversations between Jean Hsu, VP of Engineering at Range and engineering leadership coach, and engineering leaders and other influential folks in tech.

Lead Time Chats is brought to you by Range. Range helps hybrid teams check-in asynchronously about what matters most. Know what's happening through status updates that pull from tools like Github and JIRA without scheduling yet another meeting.

Checking-in with Range creates more focus time for heads-down work, all while feeling a deeper sense of connection and belonging with your team. To learn more about Range, you can check it out here.

Season 2 Episodes

» Episode 1: Camille Fournier on making boring plans

» Episode 2: Tess Rinearson on early career engineering managers

» Episode 3: Kim Scott on building for systemic justice

» Episode 4: Sumeet Arora on moving on from a big company

Season 1 Episodes

» Episode 1: Will Larson on the path of the senior engineer

» Episode 2: Duretti Hirpa on mentoring junior and mid-level engineers

» Episode 3: Cate Huston on working with an external coach

» Episode 4: Juan Pablo Buriticá on common eng manager mistakes

» Episode 5: Gergely Orosz on the decision to go into management

» Episode 6: Lara Hogan on leading effectively in a pandemic

» Episode 7: Kaya Thomas on common early career engineer challenges

» Episode 8: Uma Chingunde on starting a VPE role in a pandemic

» Episode 9: Katie Wilde on supporting your team's mental health

» Episode 10: Akhil Gupta on navigating uncertainty in new roles

» Episode 11: Harper Reed on giving everyone a voice in team meetings

» Episode 12: Marc Hedlund on sponsorship

S2 E5: Rachael Stedman on IC Manager Work
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