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From Building a Marketplace to Building Teams

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Some principles and tricks I've learned about leading software teams from over five years of experience of growth at Etsy.

Published in: Leadership & Management

From Building a Marketplace to Building Teams

  1. From Building a Marketplace to Building Teams Mike Brittain VP Eng., Etsy @mikebrittain mikebrittain.com/talks
  2. A. Do you consider yourself a manager, tech lead, team lead, leader, etc.? B. See yourself eventually transitioning into that leadership category?
  3. C. “Hell no, you’ll take my editor away from me over my cold, dead body.”
  4. 2010: Sr. Engineer -> Team Lead -> Eng. Mgr. 2011: Eng. Director: Core, Devtools, Perf, CI 2012: Eng. Director, Mobile 2014: VP, Eng.
  5. Disinguished Eng. Principle Eng. Sr. Staff Eng. Staff Eng. Sr. Eng. Software Eng. (2) Software Eng. (1) VP Sr. Director Director Sr. Manager Manager
  6. Leading a team is a distinct role from being a contributor on the team.
  7. “We want you to be the director of technology. We want you to run the team. You’re in charge. And, of course, you’ll still be able to write code 75% of the time.”
  8. Leadership is a role that requires 100% of your effort.
  9. Hire the right people. Get them onto the right teams.* Create a sense of mission and purpose. Ruthlessly remove the blockers. Enable them to do what they are great at.
  10. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuckman%27s_stages_of_group_development
  11. * Group development is almost entirely what your role is about as a leader.
  12. Manage ambiguity. Create certainty.
  13. Regularly scheduled Q&A time with the team. a.k.a., “Truths, Lies, and Rumors”
  14. Additional topics Recruiting, Onboarding, 1:1s, etc.
  15. Leadership is a lonely role only if you allow it to be.
  16. Build your cohort of fellow leaders.
  17. Not just personnel managers, and not just those within your own company. Build your cohort of fellow leaders.
  18. Build your cohort of fellow leaders. Not just personnel managers, and not just those within your own company. Be explicit about when a conversation is to be held in confidence.
  19. Leaders think about how the team will work in the future.
  20. Running good meetings is a topic unto itself.
  21. Allow your meetings to expire.
  22. Allow your meetings to expire.
  23. You (w|d)on’t have time to know everything that is going on in the team. Where you expend effort and attention must change as the team grows and the company grows.
  24. Put yourself out of a job.
  25. Go on a long vacation. Prepare your team (over time). Assign temporary* delegates for everything. Turn off your email. Spend time thinking about how the team is performing.
  26. Assign temporary* delegates for everything. “Hey, Bob. I heard from the team that you’re doing an excellent job taking care of X, Y, Z. I’d like you to be in charge of these full-time. We’ll announce that to the team in this week’s All-Hands.”
  27. Put yourself out of a job.* * WARNING: May not be appropriate outside of growth-stage companies.
  28. You’ll ship less frequently when you’re a leader.
  29. “It’s impossible to get any ‘real work’ done during the day.”
  30. Take some credit for yourself. (You know, from time to time…)
  31. Thank you! Mike Brittain VP Eng., Etsy @mikebrittain mikebrittain.com/talks

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