Career Coaching with Allen Cheung

Allen CheungAllen Cheung is a Director of Engineering at Affirm, leading the User engineering team to build a great user experience for Affirm’s customers. He has worked for a number of technology companies both small and large, with past experience at Counsyl, Square, and Google as a product engineer and engineering manager. Allen received his B.A. in Computer Science from UC Berkeley back in 2004.

Allen is particularly passionate about personal growth, development, and mentoring aspiring engineers and leaders. When I’m not working, though, I have two young kids to deal with at home, and reading & writing when I have the opportunity.

Allen is also a mentor on the Plato network.

 

Links:

Show Notes:

Harvard Business Review

First Round Review

A Manager’s Path

Radical Candor

Managing Humans

Rands in Repose

Creativity Inc.

The Score Takes Care of Itself

 

 

(transcription provided by Google Api)

Show Transcript:

Christian Mccarrick:
[0:04] Good afternoon welcome to the show.

Allen Cheung:
[0:07] Hi Christian thanks for having me.

Christian Mccarrick:
[0:08] Absolutely. So met you through the Plato Network which I’m really starting to actually made a number of people through that Network because I think we kind of all share this goal.
I’m really trying to improve you know kind of like the crack in the concept of of software engineering management and Leadership.

Allen Cheung:
[0:24] No definitely Plato I found to be a great resource I think for folks to connect to chat through various management scenarios and you notice to disconnect I think it is been a really good resource for books.

Christian Mccarrick:
[0:38] Absolute talent for our listeners out there if you could just give me a little bit of a brief background of kind of how you got into you should have saw for engineering and then how you got to where you are today.

Allen Cheung:
[0:49] Sure.
Guess I’ll think back a little bit about my college Years and going into industry for the first time I graduated from UC Berkeley and this was.

Christian Mccarrick:
[1:00] Go Bears.

Allen Cheung:
[1:01] Exactly this was back in the.com days I graduate in 2004 and and I actually saw this evolution of where we were right in the midst of. Calm everything was awesome.
And then everybody wanted to be in computer science or be involved with software engineering in whatever capacity and then overtime as a kind of bust,
as as things got progressively worse I saw people driving her the major in in a pretty systematic fashion it so when I graduated in fact I remember there were,
bunch of classmates,
who decided because there were very few jobs to be found to actually take to pursue their phds to pursue kind of further education in lieu of going and Industry.
At the appointed time I figured hey I might as well go and see what happens and I went and got a better job with a midsize finance company to start and it was one of those things where is only folks that your first job,
it’s the one you’ll remember where the one you owe you know hopefully make friends for life but you probably wouldn’t stay there longer than you should,
I have after it was after you’ve learned your lessons are not and and you know there are I think a lot of.

[2:15] For me it was so for me.
I went into the Massage Company and I really want it I was in Silicon Valley and I always felt like hey I was on the outside looking in which was kind of weird because I was actually right in the midst of it at least you graphically.
And I ended up wanting to really going to start us go into kind of the texting as we know it today.
And So eventually I did I joined a number of startups and I really had a lot of fun learned a lot through that process I went with Google for a little bit I entered that and it had a company when it was about.
2013 thousand people sorority pretty.
Pretty big company and I was able to learn a lot about software engineering in general so you know if you have the chance to join a big company even though you in the back of my you’re thinking hey.
There is I don’t message you want to work for a big company there’s a lot of value in and kind of just learning how to talk French.
Itself as a discipline and then.

Christian Mccarrick:
[3:22] The best practices around process and training in at scale especially Google doing things that scale.

Allen Cheung:
[3:28] Exactly I’m Google doesn’t really good job at doing that both honest people from SOS just a software engineering systems are of course some of the best in the world and then I did a lateral move on to a startup.
Call Square.
They actually eventually went public in 2015 but I was there through four and a half years kind of threw its hyper-growth face to go from small start-up to you know almost a public company.
And and threw that actually learned a lot and that was also the time I went from being a technical lead in to directly being a people manager,
I’m so kind of seeing how a company scales up seeing how,
it’s teamtennis Engineering Systems and its processes and everything else that’s needed for a company to get to a large size see how all that kind of skill that with the company for me that was such a valuable experience I was like learning and making connections with people and learning a lot from,
other senior leaders in the company and taking that away now to my current job at a firm,
where I am a director of engineering there so seeing kind of taking those lessons about software development about engineering manager,
and applying it to you know what we hope to be a lot shorter best or large company or so in the future but for now is that you know where you see yourself small Scrappy startup and I’m happy to,
be there to contribute and to help out and to help us go.

Christian Mccarrick:
[4:52] Sure it will actually I think it definitely affirm it is lucky to have someone like you that’s that’s really cares about not only technology but about Engineering Management leadership and how important that is to Scaly and growing companies.

Allen Cheung:
[5:05] Yeah for sure I think it is one of the underappreciated aspects of figuring out how to kind of scale a business is actually scaling out,
the company itself and in a bit,
QuikTrip arguing that it’s killing are you leadership at your management capabilities and every company that I know of runs into a problem like this there’s no not enough good managers in the world,
how to fill them on all of the roles that are needed and so there’s always just constant deficit and we do the best we can to you know train people love coach people,
can I get you into leadership positions and make sure that they do well.

Christian Mccarrick:
[5:40] Chuck when you are squares you mentioned you were there doing the extent of hyper growth. Right and that’s what you got your first your first became an internal injury manager.
Was that it had that transition happen was it something or like I wanted to do it in my career path or was it like a lot of other places they were growing so fast they needed someone help run teams which which one is it for you.

Allen Cheung:
[6:02] I think it was more of a conscious decision so probably a little bit more of the former,
I was at the time of the video sorry I was basically take late for a team that was building out.
We Now call the Square Dashboard and we were a team of eight or nine engineers and then we were preview pretty good job executing,
on our product in our project and we came to a point where it makes sense for me to,
already doing a lot of the project management doing a lot of the starting to look into somebody’s like the people matching responsibility,
to actually just go ahead and transition over but it was very much a conscious decision I remember it was when I came back from my paternity leave after having my first kid it was you made a decision okay we should go ahead and make the dress formal,
now that we have the opportunity to you know take a little break between and so it all worked out at the end most happy to do it,
I myself I wasn’t entirely sure like a lot of tech leads going into management whether I wanted to do this for the long run,
I was ironically motivated not so much for a Time ask her about my time previous to that about basically having bad managers,
having managers myself where I felt like I could,
do a better job here or I would have done things differently and this was kind of the opportunity for me to prove myself hey now that I have said all these things about some of my past managers now’s my chance to actually see.
About basically my own hair.

Christian Mccarrick:
[7:30] It’s easy to be armchair quarterback and say you could do better until you actually do it.

Allen Cheung:
[7:33] Exactly and then you realize how hard it actually is and you go back and go hey like this is so much harder job than you realize,
coming in and now that you know I am here I’ve been doing this for a while I feel like like you Christian that I think it’s worth spending the time to give back into.
You know like make sure to Train everybody else and to you know for people who are interested or who are in a position to kind of make the move to go ahead and you know see what it’s like and also have like a lot of support.

Christian Mccarrick:
[8:01] No thinking back up on those times any major mistakes are mistakes you made you know you probably would have maybe have done differently or you cringe at now that you wish you could have gone back to your younger self send in and try to coach.

Allen Cheung:
[8:16] Oh yeah I told my first time people who are first-time managers I basically caution them now that hey.
There will be a time when you first become a manager that you will have your first major screw-up it may not feel like a scoop at that point or you might be very consciously aware that you screwed up in some way.
And the repercussions are such that it’s going to be more painful than if you screwed up as an engineer,
I’m there you know that coke can be reverted did I can be backfield but when you screw up,
you know thanks for leaving two people sometimes that cannot be mended other than maybe over time so that’s going to happen and it’s going to suck,
and you remember it probably for the rest of your career so don’t mind that that is going to happen because I suspect it happens to everybody.
Everybody that while you there will be a time when you screw up and you will remember that so for me my story was really around.
First becoming a manager and I think this is a pretty common story for folks Where You Are.
Putting a people management position and you giving those responsibilities but you’re also being a kind of half expected to still continue,
contributing technically and so you were kind of doing both at once so you know at least a lot of burn at least a lot of people asking to tell hey is this right for me why am I so overworked,
I’m in for me that was definitely a part of it and remember I went into this just having had a baby as well so after coming back from returning to leave so.

Christian Mccarrick:
[9:39] Double challenge.

Allen Cheung:
[9:40] Exactly I was very tired and very exhausted.

Christian Mccarrick:
[9:44] I remember those days he has.

Allen Cheung:
[9:45] At at the end of at the end of the day,
throughout the weekend so if you were going to try to get this product out and I remember it was a very specific instance where I looked at it in the decent project of my soul not something that I directly contributed to,
but I had kind of domain expertise in you know by knew how the engine I would work.
And I thought as a manager hey you know while I can’t help this thing directly what I can do is try to move people around try to work the people side of it,
to try to get this project done basically to staff it with Engineers to get it done,
and I thought okay you know I’m again in a managerial position I have the authority to do this let me go ahead and see what strings I can pull see what relationships and connections I can make and a funeral be a giant mistake for me to attempt to do that,
because we’ll do a lot of things I didn’t know,
for stepping into management to not understand kind of the interpersonal relationships that had existed and some of the motivations behind,
some decisions made what I ended up was it blew up in my face kind of triangle email Scott somebody,
pulled me into a room angrily told me that hey you know whatever you’re doing is not helping I got direct feedback and indirect feedback from my manager as well as other managers that hey you know we didn’t appreciate that you try to do this,
you know I realize this is to mistake that you’ve made you know I had to run away with Dino tail tucked between my legs eventually.

Christian Mccarrick:
[11:11] For trying to help out.

Allen Cheung:
[11:12] Exactly all fortunate trying to do a good thing and so you know that that’s not to discourage people for it from definitely trying for thinking that they are doing the right thing,
but to be very cognizant of kind of the existing relationship existing interpersonal connections at were there and also some of the motivations that was still kind of lesson I took away is that hey you know.
It’s worth stepping back it’s worth taking a look at surveying and landscape and and that you know if I had to do it again then I would do you know having now.
Bascule set of how to do it you know,
learned through trial and error that that is definitely something that I would make the same mistake again just because knowing basically will be his ally Minds that now I can see,
why you wouldn’t want to step into him I would you want to engage in the first place but again I think for everybody,
their screw up it’s going to be different. Lesson Sarah will not apply to other folks who will have their own measurements taken and the fun part is you know well from her after the fact right is that fog reflection while this is this is the problem that I ran into.

Christian Mccarrick:
[12:14] Okay great and from Square to your current company now at what point did you take on being a manager of managers.

Allen Cheung:
[12:23] So actually I will say that there was I did have one stop in between so I was a general counsel,
and that’s basically when I first started taking on manager being a manager or managers and helping manage other managers as people will tell you the role is quite a bit different,
then being a manager of icy Sanders contributors and,
for me it actually wasn’t too bad because even s i was a manager asked where I started,
taking on another said the responsibility but the initiative to help coach and Mentor other managers who are either up and coming or who were off the same manager poor than I was in,
and so for me it was very natural to kind of move into position where I would be able to help other managers more directly.
And so it making that move some say it’s it is kind of a jump in that you have to learn new skills as for me it wasn’t too bad it was a very gradual transition.
To go from tech leads to a manager and into a director.

Christian Mccarrick:
[13:26] And what do you think the biggest jump is that most people might experience if there may be a manager today thinking about becoming a manager of managers or that’s a senior manager or director and depending where they are but what do you say is the single most.
An important thing till 2 to take care of when you do that.

Allen Cheung:
[13:44] I think a lot of it becomes looking at things as systems as opposed to discrete one-off pass so as a manager,
even though people will how you hate you have to step back from being a contributor at all,
you still have to Billy Dee do it if if you really have to if you really have your 70 code you can definitely do that as a director and above you basically are you loose.
You very much have to work you have to bill systems and processes that create system thing you have to think about things and act like level because you are necessarily,
degrees removed from the actual work and so anytime I feel like I have to step into code for whatever reason it’s probably a bug in the way,
Persistence of set up where that becomes a necessity.
And so again with everything a little bit more after I can remove it means that you do have to pull back a lot and you have to work through people a lot more than even as a manager,
I’m Avenger contributors but I think it’s has type on the other side of that is if you do set up your process is correctly then you kind of see the compounding results of your,
you know the work that you do which is again creating processes systems,
Ben. Other people then we’ll be able to create house off of as well as I almost took him off the vision and kind of Ford looking again on a much grander scale than as a manager of an inch,
of a specific domain you get the opportunity to effect.

[15:17] Larger things and so there is a responsibility that comes with that but the satisfaction of setting up hope this is the right almost almost the right culture,
for a specific organization or a team is where director and level,
folks and above are really able to have their impact.

Christian Mccarrick:
[15:36] And you’ve been to the number of different companies right now some smaller some bars and some hyper growth.
Have any of those different companies have been at have any really stood out as to having a meeting on exceptional program for that transition and helping people transition from Icy into Engineering Management.

Allen Cheung:
[15:57] I would say Square had a pretty good program of making that work even one my first company the Maasai finance company off exit research systems how to,
pretty good way of identifying people who beat future managers and it put them on the train pass to get there,
and so I think there are many companies who set up a lot of the right pieces you know you have to write training.
Take the boy to attack Lee parole and then you slowly and Pub the other responsibilities are on the project for me the hardest part is always that hard cut into having two people responsibilities,
it’s not something that you can easily simulate.
I’m being attacked lead but it is one that is crucial to your responsibilities as a manager and probably the one that must struggle with a state first get into Engineering Management,
and all because you have to learn entirely new skill set so I think that’s the part where.

[16:56] I am I experience anyway it’s been hard to simulate that and it’s been hard for companies to kind of make that decision without disc,
putting people in that position to just do it.

Christian Mccarrick:
[17:07] Sure let me see what kind of an interesting question I have kids you know you’ve mentioned that you do you feel at all that sort of having kids it should have helped you becoming a better engineer manager.

Allen Cheung:
[17:19] Well I have some patience taught me patience with a generous and taught me patience with kids.

[17:27] I think what what having kids let me do is first of all a it it gives me another perspective, not just some work on life itself,
and makes me realize hang pull back sometimes from the day-to-day and sometimes too stressful things that happen on a day-to-day basis to kind of seeing what,
I find it’s important what my value thing goes off to me.
And so having them definitely help from the scenario on a more practical level I would say having kids,
allows me to kind of think about what are some ways I could teach them what are some of the ways that I could influence and change the way they think about things without directly telling them hate this is what I want.
As a manager. Skills that’s actually really helpful just I used to have a mentor who called this nudging this idea of just nudging people,
in the direction that you want to push him nobody wants to be told even my kids I don’t want to be so this is what you have to do a home it is very much pay,
can I influence you in a particular direction can I show you that this is the right path to go there and,
Engineers really do appreciate that you know you are able to nudge them on the right path with explicitly telling them without going into,
almost micromanagement levels of Direction in what it is that they have to do and again even at the manager managers again. Skill said it’s very helpful,
I’m not judging managers to move in a certain direction has been valuable.

Christian Mccarrick:
[18:54] Yeah that’s definitely good point I also have multiple kids too and I found a helps me to come to almost a better mediator.

Allen Cheung:
[19:03] Sure.

Christian Mccarrick:
[19:05] The fighting that happens between them sometimes and you’re going to have to put things in perspective you know for people on the teams if they’re not working very well together as well.

Allen Cheung:
[19:13] Oh definitely I can definitely relate to that seven each other’s toes and telling them that you know how to avoid that Ninja.

Christian Mccarrick:
[19:21] That’s right and you know a little bit when I was reading one of your blog post and I know you were on a panel at one of the previous Play-Doh events.
And in your blog post you talk about how.
Terrible engineering leaders are as public speakers not all of them but in general so I can explain explain that a little bit.

Allen Cheung:
[19:45] So I think it is one of these skill sets that you usually don’t have to pick up as a individual contributor even as a manager for the most part you don’t have to worry too much about this,
and it’s just an observation I’ve had since you don’t have to have much practice in it and since we as a group,
that collectively as you’re nearing leaders in general don’t really have to practice is there for a while how would you expect to get good at that.
I think for the most part that has more out in terms of thinking about you know the conferences in the talks where everything is very much well-produced and people have done a lot of rehearsals.
I’m and where people have done Nina public speaking coaching other things.
Versus you know group of engineering leaders who have not done. And it’s only are expected to speak up and I think you know it is a skill worth learning if you.
Happen to do this a lot.
This is an expectation that you have as a part of your job your role or something that you ain’t really interested in but in a way I think it’s also somewhat endearing that the lack of Polish is in a way a sign of authenticity.
You know people who don’t do this for a living,
you don’t deserve a often well are willing to come out on stage and be able to kind of bare their soul to you right to tell you I decide the experiences I’ve had,
you’re kind of almost share their weaknesses and there is a authenticity to be able to do that kind of Courage that I think you know on the other side of me.

[21:19] Just criticizing people not being a good public speaker and I include myself in that criticism but also seeing that while you know,
you still have to appreciate people for being able to go up there in first place.

Christian Mccarrick:
[21:32] To give it a shot right now I think it’s you make a very good point there and I’m actually have a draft of a blog post I’m currently writing about.
You know why should have public speaking and just effective communication is really important for engineering leaders especially as you grow higher in an organization right because you’re.
Audience isn’t always going to be a Tech conference or your engineers.
I think as you grow to director VP and above you might start having to interact with board of directors you might have to go to DC’s and I think you know how you come across.
Is almost as important it shouldn’t be right but how you come across is almost as important as you know what you’re trying to say.

Allen Cheung:
[22:12] Exactly exactly exactly.
And only that I would also say when when you know Direction above level when you have to have a vision of word is how you want to go in the yard should be sent to even watch through your engineer.
Understand the audience and it’s being able to speak to them it’s all the more important.
You know around here are we going to start a companies have at this point pretty much saying I still around the idea of having all hands meetings right,
and if you’ve been at a company of any size you will notice that the people who came out there to speak are you know either the party managers or versus here around the company.
Adobe ask tough Q&A questions to be asked to explain something or to share their vision of their team an organization and product,
for the coming years and so it’s important to develop the skills that is important to you not be afraid and to present yourself in a way that that makes the rest of your team to inspire and motivate.

Christian Mccarrick:
[23:11] Correct correct absolutely and I think that dovetails into another one of your posts that they had written titled I don’t want to be a manager right where you talk about.
There is there is a difference between management and Leadership but how.
As you grow in your career to Amora senior-level that leadership is very important right so much.

Allen Cheung:
[23:33] Definitely so you know this idea I heard from I forget the exact Source but they mention to me hey you know.
Nobody you necessarily wants to describe themselves as a manager because all you ended with managing things and who wants to actually do that right,
what you want to do is lead an aspiring initiate kind of New Direction in new ideas what to do that actually in this office actually a pretty complicated and not only it does it require courage but also request a skill set.
To actually you know start something to recognize the new idea to kind of grab it by the horns and go and run with it and so you know we.
Think of managers.
As well as I would say like senior technical folks as Leaders at least that’s the thing that I’ve always pushed for my managers and mice in your folks to really work on kind of this leadership attributes and.

[24:24] It should be completed basically this leadership attribute with.
Being a manager even people who tell me hey I don’t want to be a manager I want to stay injury to computer technically I tell them hey there still this leadership aspect you,
if to reduce it to the simplest possible terms the definition of a leader is some somebody that other people will follow right,
and so you still need to have other people follow you even on a chemical level and I still something you have to develop some of it engineer Style.
I work with that are on the cusp and that are basically on the way to becoming senior technical leaders.
Think that you kind of get that for free that is if the technical solution is good enough that people will just come and follow you and I think it actually doesn’t work out right if we look.

Christian Mccarrick:
[25:12] To a point but maybe that’s it.

Allen Cheung:
[25:14] Exactly I’m if you look at the open source model for example of how wide open source libraries in what three ways that people use there is some amount of all this is technically solid and this is a sound solution,
but it’s also a lot of evangelism and talk with folks and making connections,
and all of that is also important in that I think that’s what a lot of people in there preciate size people move into leadership roles which is I cannot be played it with management roles,
that’s something that I have to develop.
And I think when I end when I go over this with first Sometimes they open their eyes and go wow I didn’t realize that it would be this hard it may be something as simple as getting the rest of the company to adopt a specific.

Christian Mccarrick:
[25:54] You have to sell it.

Allen Cheung:
[25:55] Exactly you have to sell those people it’s not just whoever is the best tanning solution while on Whose terms is the best.

Christian Mccarrick:
[26:00] That’s right that’s right.

Allen Cheung:
[26:01] And so I think that there is a lot of that that’s underappreciated as you develop yourself as to becoming a leader again the management people management.
Part of it sometimes people will choose to do go in it somehow if you choose to go out,
but I think as long as the leadership processes faster what you develop over time you will still continue to grow as a contributor of some kind,
I’m to your team into your organization and that part of it will stay true that’s the part that allows you to continue to have.
Senior level of impact that you want to have regardless of the exact role that you play.

Christian Mccarrick:
[26:34] And that’s that such an important point and you know we do that here and as part of our engineering.
Career ladder right some of the the attributes that they have to hit in order to go from that senior engineer up into that.
And maybe senior two or staff or even principal engineer is sometimes they say I’m ready and then we’ll go look at this rubric my say well.
But you’re missing his key point on some of your leadership skills and they always get a blank look back what do you mean but I’m going to talk Tech people but how effective are you right house active can you be as a top technical.
Contributor if you can as you mention influence and cell and lead people to follow your technical Direction.

Allen Cheung:
[27:16] Exactly what way are framed about this to some of my folks as well as the idea of Independence and the more that I have to do as your manager,
I’m too kind of feel like showing the gaps around the influence in the leadership the more than I know that that’s something that you have to work on,
I can’t have something to do with necessarily people management but it has to do with basically having that in almost like a sphere of influence about why you’re able to accomplish and the most senior people that I know are able to do that even if they don’t have any people responsibilities even if they don’t have anybody,
technically reporting to them they do have a lot of a large number of followers people who will.
Crossing the tentacle Direction who went day in a proposed a new project can understand what the directions coming from they can it they’re able to kind of get off the ground and in very independent League be able to come up with a solution I think for me that’s the most important part about,
people who Aspire and who want to become that really senior you know stuff level principle of engineer is that,
again the less your manager has to do to shorten those gaps in the more you’re able to independently execute on you know.
Bigger and kind of more generic and kind of grinder School problems the more you’re able to demonstrate that leadership and that’s all smelly what matters in terms of impact.

Christian Mccarrick:
[28:34] And that’s it was nicely into I know that you’re you’re very interested in helping to guide people’s going to career path in professional development.
So how would you what tips would you recommend to current manager is on how to guide your their direct reports.
Why would you recommend they guide them on a professional development career path.

Allen Cheung:
[28:55] Yeah topic I think has been brought up in one of your previous podcast but his bears are we had rating you have to start by understanding all this. They want.
It is not immediately obvious when you ask this question where are you really asking me do I want to be a manager and at some point of time in the future that’s what a lot of people interpret that question.
It really it is hey what is it that you want to do you know 6 months around 5 years from now,
10 years from now if you had infinite money right what do you have you what would you be doing instead and kind of work on that basis some people do kind of go down the manager versus I see that condom,
others will think about having a career switch into some other area some people are interested for some point my product or design some people want to start their own businesses right and want to learn will how do I learn the entrepreneurial skills necessary to do that.
So there is a wide variety of motivations for people and it’s important asset be very,
asking that and so with that as a starting off point then it becomes us to manager how do you provide them the opportunities to exercise and to develop that skill set I’m a huge proponent of having people help themselves.
You know if you tell me that you’re motivated to go down this path in this is what you want to learn then what I should be able to give you a few opportunities and then it’s for you to basically pick it up and run with.

Christian Mccarrick:
[30:16] I couldn’t agree more.

Allen Cheung:
[30:17] So what that means is you know,
providing the opportunities for folks to kind of work in those areas and to kind of develop those skills I would say slowly over time and depending on how they respond to how they react you can certainly have things move faster or slower as needed.
And over time you will see you know that I’m definitely starting to pick up more and more of that now whether that is you know,
being a project manager because they want to start looking into that field whether it is giving people leadership opportunities and you don’t leading a project,
in a pentacle manner where is Justina providing them a bigger technical system a bigger canvas for them to work their magic that there’s a lot of different ways for you to as your man as their manager.
To go ahead and.
To provide different projects different scenarios where people can continue to work towards what it is that they want to do now.
All that’s it,
This Crew growth is not a hundred percent straight line upwards into the right there are you know things along the way that may cause you to read a great what is that you want to do that we X.
Fairly often I would say where the company or the team requires you to do something else that doesn’t directly contribute to your growth in some way and so there’s always going to be a balance there’s always going to be Peaks and valleys within that that crashed that ideally,
or if you zoom out far enough north of Hinton the right but over time if.

[31:49] You as a manager you’re doing your job correctly and your folks are picking up these things along the way you will definitely feel that they’re growing and they will also feel that they’re growing overtime now you know the technical things on the ground you know checking out 101 performance reviews,
doing kind of delinquent necessary to make sure that the direction and the,
work is aligned to that but overall I find this model to be a very good way to encapsulate essentially what.
Otherwise would kind of be an implicit process but you know this is basically how you get there.

Christian Mccarrick:
[32:26] Pretzel also make sure to call it out specifically you want this to be explicit and you want it to be tracked and you actually want it to be kind of in some way whatever using written down so you can track against these goals to see how you and your employer doing correct.

Allen Cheung:
[32:40] Exactly you know like you know a company’s this this form lies in the idea of a performance review process and,
yeah companies do this either if you have for your every year to actually force you to write that stuff down I always tell my reports that while this is the formality of it we are required to write this down,
I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if we have to spend a ton of time on this because we should.
Checking in regularly on kind of the progress in that direction and whether you feel like you are taking on bigger projects you’re going this direction and you have these opportunities so I think that,
having having those cut checks and having those performance reviews in place if a definite need in terms of the ultimate backstop is the thing that makes sure that you did,
due to this work and having uniform across the entire company your job as a manager is to almost constantly be able to be thinking about this to be checking up on this and to provide people these opportunities as they come.

Christian Mccarrick:
[33:37] And how would you coach a manager who has an employee.
That sort of expects the company to provide everything for them on a silver platter as far as professional development and coaching and getting to the next level like I had how do you help dark manager have that discussion with the employee to say well that’s not really the case.

Allen Cheung:
[33:55] Right in.

[34:00] I guess you could call it almost like a sense of entitlement right front in a new place and point about what they expect is done for them for system do it themselves but ultimately.
It starts with kind of B-Team and organization baking and investment on the employee’s behalf right basically setting up,
the system and the processes and kind of the environment at the around the for them to succeed but,
employee has to want it right in their head they have to show kind of the initiative for their own Career Development right we can provide the models we can provide the encouragement we can provide an environment that Baker very friendly and easy,
to make that happen right but we cannot actually force people I got in front of telling people that you know I can’t force anybody to actually do anything,
right it is on you too I can and try to influence you I can try to convince you it is really on the individuals involved to make those moves and I think that that’s important part of,
you know people who want to be self-aware and we know who truly do want to improve themselves they see this as really a motivating.

[35:09] Model of how do you want to tell if it is something where you know they can see where they can have an effect where if they put in the time and the effort they can’t see the office results.
What they’re able to put in and I think that’s you know for folks who.
We think of as for people who are self-motivated were driven who we think would be great employees and productive and have,
Rick Ross head of them deserve the attributes that you look for regular for people who are able to do that were kind of able to take it in their own hands and you’re there to guide them but you’re not going to necessarily keep on pushing him from the back right you’re not there too,
you know like dragon with you along the way I’m that’s not your that’s not our roles as managers and.
You know again for for folks to wear this kind of model resonates with them those who will respond really well.
For those where that doesn’t resonate for whatever reason that it’s not they want a lot more hand-holding you know there I think there is a place and time,
for something like that but for a lot of companies that is not necessarily something bad day.
Necessarily have the capacity to be able to provide that kind of guidance.
And so you know it happens that can be a tough decision that time so I can because there is a difference between what the manager is expecting with the employee is,
thanks for being a friend and honest about her like this is.

[36:39] People to kind of take things in their own hands and we can provide a lot of the framework of our how you can do that I think it usually clears people’s perceptions up pretty quickly and for the most part I do find that people are really motivated to go ahead and prove themselves and maybe,
if they lock That explicit you have to do it you have to take this,
on yourself and you have to have the initiative in the drive. Very much clear that out very quickly I don’t think I have really found a case where people still felt like they were,
help back that you know like that this this kind of motivation speech didn’t cause them to kind of take things more into their own hands for nothing.

Christian Mccarrick:
[37:17] I don’t know personally myself I’m willing to go wave above and beyond to help someone who’s going above and beyond help themselves.
I’m always much more motivated by The Ritz coaching whether it’s.
At work or something with her playing resources again because that mean for me I feel that it’s just a much more High rate of success for that individual if they’re really taking ownership of it,
and I’m going to really need to have that internal Mozart motivation to prove themselves right now I’m more excited about helping them.

Allen Cheung:
[37:43] Exactly exactly like fun of managerial standpoint is much more exciting when you have energy on the other side of the table as well.

Christian Mccarrick:
[37:49] That’s right on that note any sort of.
Tips or advice that you would give to managers to coach their employees who are looking to become matters themselves like what would be some things for them to start working on to get into the experience of people management excetera. I have the Odyssey having to.

Allen Cheung:
[38:07] Yeah so the Hartford there is not having to formal responsibilities of your team and your folks how do you simulate some of that either from the responsibility or other responsibilities around it so,
country managers for whatever reason is kind of seen as a catch-all for.
Everything that the team doesn’t have a formal people who are formally responsible for eventually that becomes sometimes project management is sometimes product management sometimes you get to be a QA person for a while,
and then as I mentioned if you come from a template that you know you were from latex sometimes as well,
so for Stills area that are not directly software engineer related,
I found a how full to provide people opportunities to go ahead and you know make decisions kind of be a project manager look over the past are being done provide estimates and work with,
you know cross-functionally perfectly across a product management and design and kind of you don’t get a sense of being able to collaborate and just.
Really owning the entire project and not having me necessarily be there as to back stuff for them to,
execute on their particular particular particular task and so for people who want to go into management that’s a good way to just kind of get started into kind of the non-coding area since instead of being told this is what you have to do,
you get to be the one that decides to want this is what we have to do and he said it’s tough to get there and I have to.

[39:42] Provide estimates and work with my partner manager to see what the core School Passing go on and so on and so forth and that’s a good way to get started for people to also figure out hey do I still want to do this or not if,
the idea of delivering this project you know via all the things that needs to happen,
am I interested in actually pursuing all these different everything working all these different areas that are not.
Technically related on the people management side I’ve actually started encouraging people to start doing one-on-ones with other people on the team,
even though they’re not there they are not there to write manager and I found that it hey in terms of just allocating sometime,
chatting about various things are happening or various technical approaches that’s actually a really powerful way to build relationships with,
I can’t disappoint your parents at this point as you are a tech lead or a strong, contribute to the team it’s actually still very valuable to do that now of course that’s going to look slightly different than when I’m having a one-on-one with,
one of the one of your Pierce butt from,
still getting making connections with folks what about just you know have it figured out that regular rhythm and Cadence about talking with other people on the team about,
technical challenges upcoming projects even direction to the team at company all of that I think it’s actually really valuable practice and,
again if you get to a good Rhythm and Cadence even if a you know soccer engineer on the team is actually a really valuable.

[41:15] Just so you know skill to pick up to be able to do that consistently and be on both sides of that one-on-one not being just a manager but also being the employee.
And so that’s just for me a good way to start stimulating the idea of taking on the responsibilities of a people manager.

Christian Mccarrick:
[41:32] I think all good points is taking a project manager aspect and and I haven’t even thought of potentially doing some informal kind of one-on-ones I think that’s a that’s definitely good advice for people out there listening I’m sure you can wait,
contact Alan if you want some specifics on you know how that might work at your organization and any good resources you recommend.
Books blogs talks to know TED Talks whatever for people who are new or existing engineering managers to kind of help them in their job.

Allen Cheung:
[42:00] Sure so I do end up reading a lot I guess can I pick my own blog.

Christian Mccarrick:
[42:07] You can absolutely sure.

Allen Cheung:
[42:09] Sorry I do write some topics on management and that kind of how I think about things I want to come across and that some people might find useful other than that some.

Christian Mccarrick:
[42:19] See you around 4 then.

Allen Cheung:
[42:20] Allen c l e n c. Calm it’s my blog in my personal web page but other than that I would say the Harvard Business review.
As well as the first round blog.

Christian Mccarrick:
[42:34] They both both excellent Pub.

Allen Cheung:
[42:35] Yeah exactly I’m they are both really good at.
Discussing these topics and you know they are they tend to be articles that are reasonably consumable in within a couple of minutes and they strike a lot of good points that sometimes it’s hard to get a lot of action of items taken away from that but,
just a way to conceptually think about management in general they’re really good as two books so the,
to recently that you was that I recently read that I like our managers path.
And radical Candor both are really good books and they’re more practical in nature in terms of telling you about this is how you would do it when I want this is how you deal with conflict an older one is.

[43:24] I know the book I have is a managing humans by Michael APA,
an older one by this so I can a lot of really good tactics about you know basically almost like the nature of humanity and.

Christian Mccarrick:
[43:37] Anything Iran is excellent here.

Allen Cheung:
[43:38] A clear and repost this a really good ball and then outside the direct around so all these are very kind of technical Leadership Center.
But outside of that direct where I’m I found that look good leadership principles Princeton Industries and so creativity Inc for example,
excellent book that is one of the founders of Pixar and that one is just good to read okay in in in an adjacent industry what does leadership look like and what are you doing,
I land in an oldie but goodie is the score takes care of itself by Bill Walsh,
former 49ers coach and I found over the years that I’m reading up.
Ion Sports and leadership as if the role that Lisa plays in sports is actually pretty inspiring.
And I’m able to take a lot of the lessons learned from Sports and to apply to the idea again being that you know good leadership Prince Industries and you know you want to pick up license wherever you can.

Christian Mccarrick:
[44:37] Absolutely no I agree that as well having been number sports teams kind of growing up into a college to I really get,
a the concept of teamwork and a good coaching and Leadership I think they’ll really hand-in-hand.
I finally what are the best ways you mention your blog about you repeat it again and one of the best ways for people in the audience to get ahold of you or to listen or watch the things you put out or weed.

Allen Cheung:
[45:00] Yeah so my blog again is I want to see that, that’s probably the best way to reach me I redesigned that recently so that people can just contact me directly from there and I have gotten a few.
Contacts are we from folks who are just interested in chatting about their careers and whatnot so that’s probably the best way.

Christian Mccarrick:
[45:18] Okay perfect Allen appreciate you coming on the show had a great talk today thank you very much.

Allen Cheung:
[45:23] Thank you very much.

 

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