Thanksgiving week started well, and then took a hard pivot towards influenza, which meant that I haven’t had much energy to write or think over the past bit. I did get a handful of interesting questions emailed in though, so I figured I’d do an email grab bag of three anonymized questions that came in over the past week and an answer to each.
When your team competes with you
The first question is a particularly challenging one, dealing with a team member who wanted your job when you were hired, and views you as blocking their professional advancement.
My question is around having a very talented engineer on your team. One that when happy can make a team move, and when restless can destabilize. When I started managing the team, one of the long-tenured engineers was clear they he had wanted the role himself, but the company had not felt he was a good candidate. He’s continued to vent to the team his frustration that he isn’t in the role.
I’ve seen this happen a number of times, and have experienced it myself. I’ve found it particularly common when there are complex power dynamics, perhaps the team member is highly tenured at the company and the manager is a new hire. I’ve also seen it happen more frequently to women managers leading teams predominantly composed of men. This is a rather difficult situation to experience, as you find yourself accountable for the success of someone who can feel like they’re determined to undermine you.
The three step approach I’ve found useful in these cases is: (1) align upwards exhaustively with your management, (2) partner with the individual to design and implement a career path that puts them on a clear trajectory to accomplishing their goal, (3) manage them out if they’re not willing to do work to accomplish their goal.
Second, work on building trust with the individual by laying out their options and working with them to create a plan towards the outcomes they’re most interested in. In this case, it might be having an honest conversation with them why the company doesn’t have confidence in them as a management candidate, along with a roadmap of how you want to work with them on those skills, combined with a future opportunity to do a test run to demonstrate success once they’ve hit a milestone. It can be difficult to prioritize helping someone who is blowing your work-life up at the moment, but it’s the only way to start putting things back together.
Startup CTOs and personal brand
The second question was about personal brand and whether it’s actually the right priority for someone in senior leadership to focus on.
这个概念个人品牌isn’t one that I use in my writing, and I find that specific term a bit unlovable, but leaving the particular words aside, there are two questions here to untangle (1) “Is it important to be well-known to be an effective CTO?” and (2) “Is a CTO focusing externally a theft of productivity from internal priorities?”
Regarding the first, the full-stop answer here isno_ _这对一个伟大的CTO来说是至关重要的。相反，重要的是少数人知道_而不是_knowing人_。拥有深入的真正的联系是更强大的，与人们更少的人实际帮助你，而不是宽阔的周围对你的工作意识。着名不会让你做事;它正在开发你的技能_and_构建你的关系，让你完成没有他们不可能的事情。我写了一些关于建立这些关系的一点Meeting People.
如果你只集中在内部,probably doing a bad job as a CTO. If you’re only focused externally, you’re probably doing a bad job as a CTO. Whether you should be focusing onwardly or inwardly within your company is going to depend on your company’s particular needs at a point in time, and will shift frequently over time.
At $CO, we’re building an internal Service Registry for humans. It contains the names and descriptions of all the different internal services. It also contains various meta information such as the emails of the PM and tech lead who own the service and a link to the roadmap or pertinent slack channels. The plan is to use it to answer questions such as “who do I contact with questions about this service?”, “when was this service last deployed?” or “what is the version of the latest docker container for this service?” Have you seen similar services?
Every company I’ve worked at ends up building something along these lines, starting with some narrow usecase, often a deployment UI, and enriching it with more metadata and functionality over time. Some common functions are deploys, deployment history, observability graphs, logs, triggering the pager rotation, ownership, routing, access controls, feature flags, and so on.
Stripe的内部版本被命名为AMP，几年前踢掉了肖恩摩尔和杰伊谢利, and it’s become a cornerstone of internal developer productivity efforts. Uber had a similar tool, which started out as aservice cookbookgenerated from a YAML config and evolved into a full-service portal. Most companies with a few hundred engineers will have something equivalent.
These tools are exceptionally useful, because they allow infrastructure teams totreat their work as a product，包括A / B测试新功能，获取使用率分析，迭代可用性，并制定更多细微差别的权衡来管理他们违反其用户所需权力的复杂性。