During the past few weeks, I’ve noticed that I work away from my manager for long period of times, where I’m still required to provide a proxy to her org, or guidelines as she would provide them.
Under these scenarios, I’ve come to start communicating with her asynchronously, but also I’m looking for alignment with her. I could/should not provide with incorrect guidelines, or opinions that would eventually contradict her in some manner.
Alignment becomes more important, the more autonomy that is given to you. Because having autonomy doesn’t mean that you can do whatever you want, at the end of the day, you and your manager are accountable for where you’re spending your time, and effort.
I try to constantly share what I’m working on during the week, and what I have in my “back-burner” after immediate tasks are done. I also try to specific questions, like things she or her peers in the org are caring about, that might impact any of the initiatives I’m looking into.
At other times, certain triggers might come up that would move things from the back-burner, without alignment I could take up those tasks, and maybe it’s not relevant to the overall engineering strategy. Other times, maybe it doesn’t seem urgent, but might be important down the line.
In either case, alignment is what provides me with enough context to act accordingly.
At the same time, me providing my manager with enough context, and insight into my work and where I’m currently focusing my efforts, she’s able to communicate how we’re aligned with the larger organization strategy, as well as which effforts we’re tackling at any given moment.
I used to think that I wanted more autonomy as I reached higher in the engineering ladder, but this comes with the caveat that I have to work within the rails of the overall engineering org, and ultimately the company.
If didn’t remained aligned, I would be investing my time and effort into things that ultimately won’t help the customers, and the company.
The alignment provides me with the vision I’m working towards, as well a allowing me to gain trust from leadership that I’m investing time in valuable things. This trust, hopefully, allows me to influence their perspective.
As we get more senior positions within the org, and we’re seen more as engineering leaders, it’s important to show and convey the strategy of the organization, as well as keep everyone aligned on it.