This past week was hectic for me, with lots of running around wrapping up roadmaps and goals for the year and helping managers understand the scope and dependencies with external teams. Or even figuring out if there are other ways to solve a goal or if some other group has already built a solution we could improve upon.
When we talk about reaching the next level of the engineering ladder, it generally comes from doing high “leverage” activities. I understood the idea, but from time to time, I failed to choose only high-leverage tasks. That isn’t good in itself. I learn from my mistakes and try again.
Recently, with losing teammates due to different circumstances, I have had to think about short-term goals with fewer people. But also about long-term sustainability and the impending fear of losing 75% of staff overnight. Even in the face of fewer people helping with all the work we have to do, I’m always amazed by the resiliency of the people in my organization and how much it plays a part in building great products.
High-leverage activities look different as you climb the ladder, and more work requires influencing others. The activities look more like 1:1s, advice, feedback, or can you run a program from start to finish, manage uncertainty or risk in your programs, or even identify new areas of opportunity for the product or the business?
In recent months, I’ve become more mindful of the “shape” of the activities, allowing others to execute them, either coaching or sponsoring them to take on these opportunities. Because the higher we are, the less work at that level there is, and teammates need to demonstrate they can execute at that next level to get their promotion.
But also as a way to free my own time and do other activities that need to be done. With current staffing and our needs as a product, we’ve been trying to find ways to make specific tasks “non-work” as much as possible.
How can we automate or eliminate certain families of tasks? Do we already have teams executing like that? Finding those examples across the organization and using their success to bring other groups forward. Effectively creating a “movement” inside the organization needs to come bottom-up, as it should be a cultural change in most cases.
Has any team found the key to unlocking productivity? Can we leverage any unique skills around the organization to improve overall health? Or making work or processes more efficient in other areas?
What about you? What are those high-leverage tasks you’ve identified that need to be done by you? Are you making progress toward them? Have you found functions that could be done by you and help you get to that next level?