Engineering Leadership Principals with Oren Ellenbogen


Oren EllenbogenOren Ellenbogen is serving as the VP Engineering at Forter, a SaaS company that helps retailers prevent identity fraud, internet fraud and phone fraud. In his spare time he runs Software Lead Weekly, a free weekly email for busy people who care about people, culture and leadership. Oren is also the author of Leading Snowflakes, a practical Engineering Manager handbook based on his experience training Engineering Managers.

In today’s episode we discuss his book, his weekly email reading list and his guiding engineering leadership principals.

Contact Links:

Twitter: @orenellenbogen


Show Notes:

Leading Snowflakes – The Engineering Manager Handbook

Software Lead Weekly

Manager Tools Podcast

Follow the Leader with Dick Costello


Read Full Transcript

Christian Mccarrick:
[0:03] Hello and welcome to the show.

Oren Ellenbogen:
[0:05] Hey great to be here.

Christian Mccarrick:
[0:08] Accent you know it’s my pleasure to have you on and you are calling remote today or and so where are you calling from today.

Oren Ellenbogen:
[0:14] Oh yeah I’m at coming from Israel from Tel Aviv actually.

Christian Mccarrick:
[0:22] Excellent excellent.
I got that nice my show is is is a great mix of people that are actually local to the San Francisco area where I am as well as kind of all over the world and I really like to get,
you don’t make this is one of the worldwide community of software engineering managers.
You know me all kind of need assistance and I’ll try to help each other so you know excellent from from calling in today from from Tel Aviv.
So I want to start as I do with most of my gas with just a little bit of a brief background or insert of how you got to where you are today and it’s some of the important pieces along the way.

Oren Ellenbogen:
[0:54] Yeah so I’m started with computer is pretty early like I remember that.
I told my father that I took my son myself for a c cursing when I was like 12.
And I had to take the bus during the summer vacation so my father like asked me if I can you know what is like a program English.
I tried to explain I didn’t work so well but he said okay he looks like your you know you like it.
And so I started with Dad and I did like a lot of smoke projects for myself just to keep myself amused and then.
I probably some of those and when I was 16 I was someone reached out to me and I like a peach before him it was like I know how to.
Probably like a hot technology Becca Becca. I’m talking like 17 years ago.
And I like they ask like can you build for us this thing cover simple application and I said of course they never asked me for my age so I did.
I sent it to them and said okay great there are you looking for a job and I said of course,
no I was doing high school and again they didn’t ask for my job until I said of course and then they said okay so that’s that’s let’s get this thing rolling and I’m 16 and I’ll be able to work after high school.
Is that a problem I understand that you might be understood what I can do like 5 hours every day.

[2:32] So I kind of you know for the last couple of years in high school I really worked myself.

[2:38] It was really hard but it was fun I work for a startup like in a room.

[2:45] Which is was a lot of fun and I did like a lot of I really learned a lot from from others there damn I served in the army.
And looking technical unit in the Army and afterwards things for different Starbucks one of them was mine.
So that’s kind of my short history.

Christian Mccarrick:
[3:09] Great.
I really like your hearing everybody’s background because I think it’s important to know that there is no one right way to get to being you know an engineering manager and Engineering leader right whether you have formal education or.
You know you you cried the startup in high school or happened and I think it’s really important to know that there’s lots of different pass to get to being sort of in startups and and software companies in becoming engineering managers. It’s really kind of great to hear.
If our listeners to understand to that there’s no one way that everyone gets to be with a ride today right.

Oren Ellenbogen:
[3:44] Yeah yeah I think I think I’d like one thing that I would take from my journey is that people will give you an opportunity.
If you will you know if you try at least to show them that it’s worth it for them so like.
When did I did this just by publishing projects that I you know that I really liked and by answering a lot of questions on established form.

[4:09] And then just people you know so to throw my project so my answer is and then you know just gave me a shot the basically.
So I think if you’re able to create opportunities for yourself then in our industry I think that too many people will open and give you a good opportunity up to you.

Christian Mccarrick:
[4:30] That’s right that’s right and you are now how long have you been a manager answer to how many what’s your team size today.

Oren Ellenbogen:
[4:37] Yeah so I’ve been a manager for about for about 8 years I guess we some short breaks here and there I’m going back to jail.
And my team size today’s about 25 Engineers almost 30.

Christian Mccarrick:
[4:56] And are they all directly reporting to you or then do you have some in Durex as well like sense and manners beneath you.

Oren Ellenbogen:
[5:03] Oh yeah so until like so.

[5:08] We were completely flat I was directing I was thinking around 2522 engineers.
Oh yeah and then at the beginning of the year we made a change and we split it in two teams currently manage three teams and I also manage a few direct Isis.

Christian Mccarrick:
[5:30] Okay great and how did you get into your urine images contributor for while working at startups and how did you get into becoming an engineering manager.

Oren Ellenbogen:
[5:42] Yeah so so.

[5:45] I really remember this experience event now and it’s like 11 years after so basically I work in a company where.
All of the most difficult projects always difficult infrastructure work kind of naturally you know I was 22 years old.
I had like 6 years of experience just because I started really early.
And I was consuming huge amount of books and I had a good communication skills so I talk to customers in and basically they promoted me because the team group.
And it felt kind of safe for them to know that you know I’m I’m the one speaking with taking the big projects I’m taking dick most complex infrastructure work so like for them I was there you know I was the safe bet to promote.

[6:41] Inside this I’m not sure that I was mature enough to do it but you know that’s probably one of the.

[6:51] Downsides of of leading a team at such a young age.

Christian Mccarrick:
[6:55] Sure.
Sure and ask this to all of my guests as well because we’ve all made them so what do you think that when you let you know now what was some of the mistakes that you made early on it was one mistake that you made that you might have said.

[7:13] You look back on and say wow I would have done something different.

Oren Ellenbogen:
[7:15] Oh yeah so.

[7:18] I think I’ve done probably all of the possible mistakes if you can think of but I guess you know the biggest one and something that I kind of regret.
I used to work a ridiculous amount of hours when I was 22 when I was like you know.
Young in general I really enjoyed programming to really enjoy being stuff over the enjoyed the customers the way that they’re using projects that I have made and.
What happened is that when I became a manager is that I was working as an engineer for 12 hours for like for a program like writing code for 12 hours and then I was working as a manager for like 4 or 5 hours.
And obviously you know it kind of makes during the day so there was a few outdoor few hours of me being a manager.
But still like I was working 16 to 17 hours a day and.
I felt that again just because you know a second ago when I was when I wasn’t there a manager I was used to doing the most complex part of the system.
When someone promoted me you know nobody told me to stop and look at you know what is my new role.
So basically kind of continued so I let others do stuff.
But I was working on the nights and weekends too kind of reflector and rewrite some of the code of my teammates were wrote.
I thought I was going to get it getting to work but I really didn’t trust anyone who work as good as fast as right as I did.

[8:54] Again this part of the eye you know like a maturity age but I found myself just basically rewriting or Reinventing infrastructure and then coming back.
The beginning of the week I’m telling my team I tell you this and like you know I completely rewrite this part or I made a new infrastructure that we should all use and they were complec they were Furious on on.
You know the fact that I did this without even talking with me I was frustrated because I felt kind of alone like I said you’re not moving fast enough with your mother is not as good as I would like it to be.
I need to do the work of everyone else in the team I ain’t was really like a terrible terrible experience both for me and I’m sure that even worse for them.
So that’s my major mistake trying to do the work of of my teammates.

Christian Mccarrick:
[9:47] Sure and that’s not uncommon to it talk to no more other people as well we’re really kind of letting go and there’s two aspects to that I think one.
It’s a concept that you said of Delegation and trust but it’s also the other thing most of us have come up from being engineers and you know we really.

[10:04] Guess the film in front from writing code and and and seeing you know what we write get into production and that happens less and less as managers and it’s hard to give that up right.

Oren Ellenbogen:
[10:16] Yeah for sure this is something that is fast feedback loop yeah I miss that then and for sure this is why I always fall back to writing code instead of mentoring others on house right.

Christian Mccarrick:
[10:29] Exactly and aside from that mistake do you have any would you give any tips to first-time managers today making a transition with something that you might Mentor a new manager that you’re promoting up into one of your team.

Oren Ellenbogen:
[10:42] Oh yeah oh yeah so I thought about it a lot because I didn’t answer a few engineering managers during the years and and also hear that for her while I work today.

[10:57] So I think I would wish that someone would have challenged me to think harder on what’s my unfair Advantage being a team.
Very smart and capable Engineers meaning what do I bring to the table that is unique.
Because like you mentioned that you’re interviewing someone with like a great engineer fight like it is it’s you know that person is much better than you in any aspect that you can think of.
Now you ask yourself what can that person there for me.
What can I eat and drink manager can teach that person how can I improve improve them what can I do to promote them but also to inspire them to get them to work in Oakland.
And for me I really wish that someone would ask me okay you’re an engineering manager now.
This is this is a very different role and.
Think of what you want to bring to the table that is a bit different than writing code or doing some you know very icy.
So I would do that differently in terms of I would use that that advice of what’s your what’s your answer advantage.
Can I combine it I would come by and do something else if I think it’s 830 is very implicit but I would really like to do it explicit for others so.

[12:21] So I would like to what is the premise behind management.
General right so your ticket so you mention that you have a team of like three individual contributors like three engineers.
And you want to bring another individual contributor to the team but you’re saying okay to things big enough.
So the premise is that if you take one engineering manager and you add 3 Engineers the team will be more productive than for software engineers.

[12:57] Wright’s a OnePlus 3 is bigger than 4.
It in that regard so the reason why don’t you live in manager and 3 and engineers and you have to make sure that this engineering manager understand that their job now is to somehow get this team more effective then just for software engineers.

[13:16] I know this is not easy this means that they need to justify their pay their paycheck basically.
And the Olsens adopted by the lacked the lack of direct efficiency because they will no longer write code in a 100% of the time.
So how can they justify their lack of efficiency know I’m being very direct here just to let you know to make the point clear that manager we want to make sure.
Managers understand that they’re building the team that hopefully knows how to be the product.

[13:49] And this is your new role is to understand how can you make a team successful.
And how can you improve the team as an overall.
So we stopped regard what I would do differently is I think that we all have you know someone in the team that we’re not really utilizing now.
And you know for me it’s my direct manager so when I was in a dream manager for the first time I had dinner with direct manager that I reported to.

[14:22] And I almost never talk with him about my own damn ass my own engineering my own manager.
And I kind of left everything for myself because I don’t know I told myself that these guys too busy and they shouldn’t bother me some you know some in the Judo techniques that I have.
And this is obviously kind of a shame because he know my manager he had expect like you had more than 10 years experience of living engineering things.
And I am 22 years old just starting with an engineering manager I could use I can leverage his experience to being a better understanding better prove my skills.
So one thing that I suggest people to do I called it like code review and your decisions.
He’s basically to capture dilemma that you have at least one dilemma per day.
And then did the name I would be for this for example okay I’ll see imagine like you have a senior Engineers come come to your room is hearing your story come to your room and say Hey listen.
I’m looking on this picture and in order to achieve that feature any three factors like a different part of the code of this code is really messy and I want to respect the right now.

[15:40] The person who wrote that code that I went through EZ know that’s cool that person and I’m not sure if I should do it or I should do it myself what do you think.
And then you as a manager right this person comes to you and ask you what to do.
I have multiple options you can say you know what I thought before I go and see it together and make you switch back to work together.
So you can learn from you and hopefully you can get this done as quick as possible you can tell him maybe just do the work yourself.
Are we don’t have time for / programming or or any still busy or just do it you know that’s it.
Or another option would be to tell him to do it just tell me how you can learn from this experience and maybe like a couple of years have passed between now and the time that you wrote it so now we would do a better job at.
So now you have the manager you have multiple has multiple possible outfits for the team you can obviously say well I don’t know what you want to do right you can tell the person what do you want to do.
So even if you think this Tina and you write it as your own you can go back to your manager and you can tell them listen I’ve got the that senior engineer that came to me.
You told me you know now what would you do what would you ask right.

[17:07] Now you have the option to your manager asking question so for example T you know.
Maybe you would tell me okay so what were the deadlines for the for this project question why did important.
So obviously the reason reasons are very clear now but at the time for me like I I just.
I reacted on every small parts on the spot I almost didn’t take anything to think of almost didn’t ask any question so when someone came and asked me a question I would solve it for them immediately like I wouldn’t even ask them what they think we should do.
I was just an okay and it sounds like a reasonable to me so going back I think.
I will take it out of more time to capture dilemma and doing my one-on-one with my manager.
I would ask I would ask him for for how would he approach those dilemmas which questions I missed which question should have asked before answering anything.
I started to do it like a couple of years later.
I need to completely change the way that I work like a completely change my my learning Spirit completely change the question that I used and since then I’ve really learned a lot from my manager.
Long as my career which is great my friend miss you know the opportunity to learn from them.

Christian Mccarrick:
[18:38] Exactly. I think that that’s a good point because.

[18:44] In the beginning when we were younger we probably think we can do more ourselves and.

[18:51] As we get older we probably need some of that help less but we’re actually more inclined to ask for it.
Right so I think for the takeaway for a lot of newer engineering managers is.

[19:04] Please ask for help use the resources around you because you don’t always know the answer and you don’t have to and I don’t think it’s expected that you do right I think a lot of people try to prove themselves and asking for help.
They might think all well they they gave me this job I’m supposed to know everything but that’s really not the case and is it as a manager myself I’m much more happy.
If one of my managers comes to me to ask for advice then bumbles along or makes a mistake that’s going to be harder to know.
To get out of then if they just took maybe what if you would have asked for advice in the first place.

Oren Ellenbogen:
[19:38] Yeah I think that should not feel alone in this journey it’s obviously a very lonely path to take.
But it doesn’t have to be all the time that way so that I know one thing that I would suggest any new engineering manager.
1 gallon per day,
and then consult with your direct manager or consult with your peers about them you know gatorsports other than you need so you won’t feel that lonely in this past and this is something for the test for me for sure would have helped.
If I would start to do it in 22 years old.

Christian Mccarrick:
[20:12] Sure that’s a good Segway into some of the things you talked about it’s kind of the Lonely path and you’ve done a couple of things to contribute back to the software engineering leadership community.
Do I think try to help people along this path I the first one of those is you written a book called leading snowflakes.
And it’s about managing software engineer send for the listeners out there especially for new managers it’s actually a book that I would recommend.
For you to actually go out and buy if your director it’s a good book I think I’m going to recommend for,
for you to it to purchase stuff for some reason do managers I think it’s it’s it’s definitely worthwhile but you know that being said or what prompted you to should have put together and write a book.

Oren Ellenbogen:
[20:55] Yeah so.

[20:58] A few days a few years later I was working going a different company and we were growing pretty pretty quickly and I had to hire a lot of people and then I had to Train sound engineering manager.
And this book was basically kind of a brain dump of the process that I did with them.

[21:18] I covered some of the tools some of the ideas on how can you delegate effectively how can you do you know one on one sock can you do code reviews for your decisions right like I kind of mentioned in the story here so.
How can you recruit people how can you build an engineering friends that will help you recruit people for everything because we were growing quickly and I I needed my engineering manager is to be able to recruit.
Book was kind of way for me to say okay what are you doing there and learn from the past five six years how can I write it down in a way that I would feel that the engineering manager benefits from.
And also kind of cat it was kind of a wait for me too I was really frustrated we fall of the edge of scram kanban boards where,
you basically throwing as people who needs to manage team that they don’t have even the basic skills you are throwing process at them that they do not even understand how do you correctly.
Are they doing that Keno daily or they’re doing retrospective are they doing like a spring damn I was even understanding what is the motivation behind it and how can they how can they leverage that in order to inspire others or to help them grow.
So the book was kind of a way for me to say that’s focus on core skills that I believe engineering managers should have.
And let’s stay away from you know this edger process that we had me that we have so much of the time.

[22:53] Like 4 years ago so yeah.

Christian Mccarrick:
[22:58] Chirp I think the other thing that he had and you give back to the community is your publishing a weekly.
List of links related to suffering management I think these things are always very good and very targeted.
And you also do a good job instead of the little summary of what each one is and you know this particular list has actually been mentioned by a few of my previous podcast guests.
and I also really appreciate these things and recommend them to my managers to subscribe as well and again I think I would recommend anyways listen to the show right now to go ahead and subscribe to to this list or what is the what’s the best way to subscribe to your your kind of weekly email list.

Oren Ellenbogen:
[23:40] Oh yeah the first step thank you in and I’m always kind of shocked wanted to see how it like a small side product project you know become something that people that I know nothing.
Starting to use so it’s cold soft mermaid
You can go and you can suck you can subscribe it’s completely free you’ll get hopefully.
Breanna very good I post every Friday that you can read I can educate yourself you can see you know how creating a great culture in their company and their team how others are leading leading.
Your teammates and it started actually as I know I are you really read a lot.
Since I can remember myself and I was.
One of my best friends is is an engineering manager and he asked me like a what should I read.
Like you know how can you learn so much content like what should I read which books which but which blog post and I said like you know I don’t know I read a lot but you do want me to send everything to you give me the top three the top five.
And then you said we started like like an email that I sent you a few friends.

[24:56] Can you remind me to add the product hunt the weight of the product constant of project and started.
Listen this is very very very good I think that you know others would enjoy it as well maybe you should start then do something with it so,
like a few hours later I had this website and people started to to sign up.
And I’m really because I never really imagined it grain to decide.
But it’s really connected me with great people who share the same passion as I do.
And it’s really fun to see how people react to it and yeah I’m just grateful to be.
Three part of it and it’s been 5 years now so you know.

Christian Mccarrick:
[25:44] It’s quite an accomplishment.

Oren Ellenbogen:
[25:45] Oh yeah yeah and you know definitely one of my proudest moments and hopefully you know when my biggest boy will be able to order older and I will be no try to talk with him about consistency.
For sure this is something that I will do that count this is very hard to do every week and any no because you’re supposed to stand and.
Getting it done every week while working and having a family is very very hard but it’s fun.

Christian Mccarrick:
[26:13] It is and I think that you know that’s true but I find that some of the people that I know that are doing some of these things that you’re doing this list I have some of their friends.
I died on the queen of these two they’re doing some other things in the soccer Community we all have full-time jobs most of the type of families.
And yet we’re still committed enough to serve do these things above and beyond you know our daily jobs because I think we’re doing this because it’s really a passion right and.

[26:39] And will you say my consistency is I do really appreciate it because it does take a lot of work to do this every single week and I know you’ve been doing it for so long so again.
Definitely appreciate that and again everyone.
I saw for the weekly please go I’ll put it in the show notes as well but go Google it and sign up it’s definitely definitely worthwhile in one of the things were going to spend some of the rest of the time here on is.
You’ve mentioned that you have a set of guiding manager principles right I like to spend some time discussing some of those.
And one of those as as you sent along to me is the kind of no broken windows philosophy.
And you know I know that sort of makes sense and and in urban areas and cities but but what does that really mean to you as a running an engineering team.

Oren Ellenbogen:
[27:24] So for meat means that we were using.
We have pagerduty for alerts we have exceptions exceptions morning to bring another thing if we see that the version and more exceptions than you know then usual.
Then these One path of.

[27:49] Thing okay you know we have 100 pagerduty other it’s open and we have a thousand exceptions but I’ll wear and he seems like you know normal.
And the problem is that I sound like when I came to $4 at the beginning and put it was like a very young company.
We had a process of releasing the releasing that software.
Like every couple of days it was pretty good I cannot every you know couple of years every couple of days but there was only one person where it was able to see planets.
And I said next to him so like in the first few days here at the company I said next to him and I saw I saw the wait at the Depot.

[28:35] No it was surprising for me because every time you eat Floyd you deploy the software and any you would you would you know he will check their logging and he would see the exceptions that the system is throwing.
And was like ridiculous number of exceptions like 5000 sperm in it.

[28:50] And he would filter them a or group them and then filter them by the type of exception and then he would say like okay I have these 10 different group of exceptions.
Which is fine because you know I’m I’m familiar with those exceptions and your safety switch like we’re safe to go live with this version.

Christian Mccarrick:
[29:11] Even with thousand.

Oren Ellenbogen:
[29:12] Oh yeah yeah yeah went shopping for me like I couldn’t even imagine the way that he was able to capture in his mind it had all of the different type of exceptions and say no safely say okay we can switch.
So when I can rent one of the things I told my Engineers is that I want I’m a big believer in no broken windows mean that means that even a single exception exception or even a single lyrics.
Is the beginning of the end meaning if you don’t do the work to fix that on the spot.
Or at least try to make sure that you know it’s close to zero so even if it’s not there it’s close to zero.
Then we would never be able to scale the system or skills organization because I cannot allow myself to have one person was able to do to hold everything is mine.

[30:03] So every time we have to do every time we have a spike in the number of exceptions people know here that you know alerts and exceptions come first before any future development.

[30:16] And this is like this is a guiding rule for me and the principal like the managerial principles are important because,
when I’m sitting at the office like we don’t have no we don’t want any broken window like you better understand what it means when I’m I’m saying that.
Which is powerful because when are you creating this lingo this language in the company.
It’s make things easier for 4 people join the team like they will hear for the first time like Owen and saying no broken windows what the heck is that mean and it will say like you know do not do not do you know have like I know is Yayo lyrics.
Please make sure it’s clean and stable he does not produce false positives.
The thing about the exceptions people are expected when their services up there are expected to go and make sure that no no service is sending like a ridiculous amount of exceptions every minutes I want the system to be as clean as possible.
So this is a recording dead and no broken windows and I understand that you know.
Keeping it like a training and making sure that we give the system,
a claim is a lot of work it’s worth it it’s makes our job much easier to scale the system and also to bring more people to the team without me feeling that we cannot even deploy anymore.
Which reminds me the first few days that I were here.
Don’t do a great experience but also very very scary because I was when I came we were like 7 or 6 engineers and I was told that we need to hire like six more immediately.

[31:52] And I was completely scared to bring more people to the team when I saw the system is such an ass shaking.

Christian Mccarrick:
[32:05] And one of the other things that you talked about and I really like this one as well as you should have phrased it is no your black and white before you deal with the grey right and.
It’s really about knowing your you know your absolutes and you tell me a little bit about you know what that means to you as a manager and why you should really have.

[32:25] You know these these sort of unquestionable things that you know are either you know you agree with or don’t agree with.

Oren Ellenbogen:
[32:32] I have some no phrases or.
Did I I like to use just because I fear that if it creates a very clear understanding into what I mean so like for engineers we have design patterns you don’t have a specific lingo.
That once you’re committed with v.
You can say like you know we had a you know I’m using you been sourcing we are using circuit breaker you’re using the design process whatever you understand or see me the day before. Understand exactly what you mean.
Which is great,
any chance you have time and energy so the same applies for me when it comes to management and what I’m saying all your black and white don’t know your limits before you didn’t go with them that they depends suggestion so you know you can you’re going to go on your looking thing and saying,
Hey listen I have the senior engineer she’s really brilliant but you know she’s complaining all the time about I will quotes about.
And I I talked with her and explain that you know it’s up to her to make some suggestion and I do give her time to fix things and and yes you know it.
Behavior when she comes it in a day after day and trashing the system addressing the other people what should I do.
And then you know the common the common answer would be you know what you depends.

[34:05] But for me what I prefer to do first you before I’m saying it depends and he said that the gray area where you have multiple options.
I would really start with you know what are my limits why do I want to promote for that example and where would I would I would fire for so.
Example you know she she probably have she has waited like you know great intentions into it.
So you know there’s some behaviors where I want to write it like if she’s pointing fingers and we discuss it expensive me and she continue to do so it might come and cross that limits for me what I’m saying.
I was fired someone who is constantly in fingers and blaming everyone instead of taking orders.
8 might be. I just know it was my bed or or anyone else that the didn’t help that person to read to be successful.
So when are you trying to make a decision what I’m going to first is I’m trying to find my limit so for example what I was fired for what I would promote for,
how an amazing execution of a future looks like what a terrible execution of a feature looks like what would make me very disappointed.
When looking at someone eating a feature how is a beautiful cold look like how is the messy quote.
And then we have used those limits at least like for me and I can clearly State them it makes it much easier to make decisions that are in those gray areas.
When people come to me and ask me for advice I usually Wooden Duck tell them it depends.

[35:41] I would usually bring them back to the other there are limits so I would ask them guiding questions around.
You know what would make them Furious versus what would make them super excited and then once they have Deft fuse all of a sudden.
Now the problem that they’re dealing with they can understand exactly whether or not each cross the limit for them and they’re beyond the point that they believe that they can fix it because they’re so Furious that’s for them they know it’s already lost you.
But until I asked the question of you know you think that this is a healthy team like you know how does the Alpha Team looks like how does a horrible team look like.
And if they believe that this is already a lost cause what is the point of me telling them you know which bands and then offering them like 5 options which all of them almost does no don’t make any sense because you don’t have the mental energy.
Commander that person in to guide them and to help them succeed.
Please be kind of my way to know your black and white before you did with the gray or you know your limits before you was dealing with that it depends question answer.

Christian Mccarrick:
[36:48] And I I imagine to that this is sort of Wylie or it’s widely communicated to to your team.

Oren Ellenbogen:
[36:55] Yeah yeah for sure they will know it’s not only communicated no but it’s also something that I wrote.
So I have this document that’s cool I called it managing oneself and it’s being shared with every engineered is joining my team.
It’s basically like a documented try to Roach not not a very long one just basically you no expectation with working with me know what makes me extremely happy what makes me disappointed.
So they would have a better understanding of what are my limits and.
I truly it is really helpful because people will join the team usually say no it’s the first time that I can clear it clearly see exactly you know what I need to avoid in order to do you need to be on the wrong side with you.
And also for me it’s very beneficial beneficial because I can explain exactly in my own words what would be a great job.
Not only how to do that like how to get a job done but I also have to get the job done right in a way that I would feel that make sense for the company.

Christian Mccarrick:
[38:09] I think that’s it that’s a great thing to do it’s really about setting your expectations both positive and negative for your team and we actually recently it at my current company went through.
Management leadership and training unit service through the exercise and one of the big pieces that came out of that.

[38:29] Was it what what it’s called in and we should have turned internally our management philosophy document but it’s the exact same items that you’re talking about it’s really laying out your expectations your values your your principal about.

[38:43] Your team are you like to lead what you expect of people and then also I think helps them and Anna Powers your team to be able to sort of.
As you say make a decision.
Because they have a clear understanding of how you would really like that decision to be made and if it’s black and white a little bit I can fall out while I know now that.
It before might be gray but now I know Christian or orange they prefer things this way so I don’t have to go ask him I can just make this decision on my own.

Oren Ellenbogen:
[39:14] Exactly yeah and if it comes back every time I really like to be explicit.
And I think that’s once you write it down the benefits of daddy that you can share with your father’s so you know I shouldn’t play manager and I got some papers from from him I should have been here.
Inside of the company and I got some fuel points from down and then I started outside of the company.
Reefer fuel BP Engineers that I know you’re in Israel and again I got some point from them so you can eat right on that versus trying to keep it all in your head.
And so young for me writing it down allows.
A very scalable process of you eat rating on your arm managerial philosophy.
Versus you trying to capture it in the way that you speak which is I know very few people as good as they can write.
And I for sure much better right there than I am at the speaker so it should be helpful for me to eat raisin dad’s to take the time to think.
And then when people come and join the company I can think we share the document with them and then.
Have a 30 minutes or an hour to go over it and make sure that they throw some clarification that they need to add to it or something you know does not make sense like and I can explain the reasoning behind it.
More scalable the way that I see it.

Christian Mccarrick:
[40:40] Absolutely and this is a challenge that I should have give to all the listeners on the show here is just try to come up with the draft ourselves of what your leadership philosophy is and what your expectations are.
Your managers in your employees and then go ahead and share it with them I think it’s orange says it it certainly I think helps as a manager it’s a great tool to have in your Arsenal and you know we do it as well.
Had my company and I can certainly attest to.
Effectiveness of it so everyone out there really and contact me or I’m sure Oren would be happy to to set if you get contacted as well if you have any questions about you know what that’s this kind of document I should look like.

Oren Ellenbogen:
[41:21] Oh yeah of course of course and I would love to share it with them if they want to for sure yeah.

Christian Mccarrick:
[41:27] Exit and one of the other things here that I think is is very important as well is in one of the things that you mentioned you do when your in your kind of your one-on-ones and it’s about helping people.
To really connect the dots and understand the why of what they’re doing what do you explain how you how you do that with your teams.

Oren Ellenbogen:
[41:46] What is your answer Advantage is a manager.
Anything that I took me a few years but I understood in the product.
And we understanding you know how’s it going to make money how’s it going to provide the body for a customer’s what does it mean to work in a startup that.
Took a lot of money from VC and now need to grow in a very specific way University sticks time frame so.
I feel that once I understand the business and the product then I can understand the goals of the company.
I know when it comes to helping others with their own personal growth you have the cool for the company and you have the goals of the individual meaning they mentioned that have an engineering manager.
I have a software engineering my team and I want to have that person you know clean prove to get better.
So what I like to do is I like to to see if I can bring the goal of the company and the goal of that person and help them to connect the dots between how can they Leverage.
The company that they’re working for how can deliver it to me is there a direct manager in order to achieve their own personal growth.
Connecting the dots mean for example let’s say it if you want to develop this new product and this new product requires a very new infrastructure.
So and you want to really see it like in 3 months.

[43:17] No. Senior engineer that I’m mentoring now in my team he has his own personal growth he wants to work on his ability to convince the organization to use a new technology.
Because he felt frustrated in the previous companies that use.
Every time you suggested the new technology or a new idea people basically you know shut them shutting down so.
My plan here is to basically say okay so this is what the button that the company tries to achieve because you have only 3 months until we have lunch if you come up with an idea that I don’t explain the path of.
How can you take your idea invalidated along the way and do it in you know it quickly.
Dan obviously no one here would like a list of engine oil.
Introduction to technology while having the stress of relief things together how can we make the minimal effort so I can make the minimum of a step forward in your direction to reduce the risk I’m so I would work with them.
Configure and figuring out the path and I will try my hardest.
To help them build the trust inside the organization so they can bring new ideas to the table and they can feel that someone here in the company would listen and will give them a shot of being successful.
But only if they’re able to explain the path of you know what would happen if after 1 month we will see that we’re not in the right direction or the Disney technology does not solve the problem do we have a fallback.

[44:57] And we have a fallback I know how much time would it take us to get to do to practice it how much time will it take us to implement that so I feel that my job in this regard is to connect the dots between what the company tries to achieve.
What is time limitations what are the different players in this game you know what is the pressure that we have at the company and and then I would try to understand better.
What is person is trying to achieve how can I take you know that person’s goals and see if I can connect the dots between between them.
So you know you can you can practice it and he hopefully can be successful with my guidance so I would definitely try and I know I’m spending most of my one on one.

[45:44] Better understanding what can I know what my teammates are trying to achieve for their own career.
I know why do you want to achieve liking the next few months how do you want to grow which skills they believe there are missing in order to be more successful and I’m trying to get to know them as soon as I can in order to understand what motivated and what we stand for.
And then I bring to the table that the context that I believe that they need in order to for them to be successful even in the short time so what can I do to be successful in this month what about next month what about next 4.
This is why I called connecting the dots around the context so they can make better decisions over time.

Christian Mccarrick:
[46:27] Sure and I think I’ve also done studies that as employees know a little bit more understanding of in the big picture of why they’re doing the work that their level of service until noon satisfaction also increases so that’s that’s equally important for that.

Oren Ellenbogen:
[46:42] Yeah and it’s engineering manager do yourself a favor you know read.
Business books try to go in and understand a reed or you except there are numerous resources are there that we are great.
For you to understand better understand the product in the business and this is something that you have to master so you can bring useful context-aware doing one-on-ones with your teammates because not all of your software engineer in the team.
We’ll have a great understanding of what does it mean to raise money from a VC and you know that the stress that you can bring to the company.
I know buddy but not everyone will understand what it means in terms of.
Trying to read it you know or anything but neither guards of how does a good product onboarding looks like.
So you can be that person for them instead of trying to compete with them on you know how quickly you write code comparing to them.

Christian Mccarrick:
[47:38] Absolutely and or do you have any other managing should have guiding principles that that you like to share as well.

Oren Ellenbogen:
[47:46] Yes all these women that I I always get back to and he said some that’s why I always.

[47:54] What applications are we doing where you at you been doing interviews he’s going to what would make you frustrated as an engineering manager.
When someone is not when someone is abusing meeting at feature.
So for example I always ask my teammates my teammates for an estimation of when you speak it will reach production.

[48:19] I know some people have seen today I asked for this estimation because it is the deadline for me and if they want to keep it then I will be upset.
But this is like the others from from from from the real.
That the practice of of me providing of them providing explanation is merely for making sure that we build momentum making sure that we that if the person has some dependency.
He will be able to sell that dependency in time.
It is for making sure that other departments will be aware of it and we can for example you know right like write a press release about this new feature or notify our customers about it.
Damn I would like to so with that they would ask me okay so what would disappoint.

[49:06] So what’s the biggest thing that would disappoint me in someone else in my team leading feature I called IQ over time.
And what I mean by death and you know when when I’m saying I Q overtime here like everyone can imagine the graphs that I’m going to explain the second.
There is a very Vivid image of exactly what I want what I’m fixing which is great because it saves me time.
Big Daddy I use that I really like the notion of at the beginning of the feature or the project to make a very good planning a very good understanding very good design of what we need to accomplish.
Sleepy imagine a graph where you know on the on the X you have the T the time.
On the V on the y-axis you have the IQ meaning how much of your you know how much of your brain you need to basically to activate during that time.
Then I expect at the beginning of the project to do to see you know a lot of your time spent on planning on architecture on designing on talking with people on figuring figuring out the requirements on doing everything that you need.
In order to make sure that once you figure it out then you can basically go back to your laughter.
Yeah put your head put your headphones headset sorry and then just write code.
So if you can imagine that graph of IQ versus time then I would expect to see like a very high IQ at the beginning.

[50:37] And then like a serious job and there is no like you and I’m saying that you know again just trying to make the point very clear.
Is that I would like to see people.
Being able to focus on writing code out figuring out holyshit we we you know we forgot that edge case.
No what happened you should be in this IQ versus time graph is that you see the beginning of time I’m in the basement but much less than I would expect.
And then there’s nothing to write code.
And then at the end almost at the end of the project they’re starting 400 we need to write dust oh when it’s right lyrics oh we oh we don’t have the dashboard we going for that reason I didn’t think.
And indemnity the IQ for peeing through this Like To Know Karaoke skyrocketing.
If you reach the end of the project because you you starting to discover all the things that you kind of missed the beginning.
So what would disappoint mean is that if you go back and if you at the end of the feature I would ask you.
Okay going back okay you’re done with the picture now let’s look back what did you find at the end of the project that you could have should have discovered at the beginning of the process.

[51:56] If we go over to listen.
All the changes word you to customer change no customer requirements change or something drastically happen then fine like it won’t disappoint me like you can’t you cannot change anything.
But you can find out the going over to sleep.
This most of the problems most of the edge cases most of the the work needed I could have been part of at the beginning of the project that would really disappointing because that would mean that we were lazy.
Figuring out the beginning what do you want to achieve before we started to write code.
And for me that means that we probably lost a lot of days I just.

[52:39] Probably rewriting some parts of the system just because we had a few edge cases that we could definitely think of at the beginning of the project so.

Christian Mccarrick:
[52:47] And your team wasn’t wasn’t working as effective as it as it really should have been.

Oren Ellenbogen:
[52:50] Exactly and this is what I can no effective team operate that way expecting Tina should look at the IQ over time of the different projects that this thing is running.
You should see this IQ at the beginning where you have very clear design reviews.
And then he has very clear project management and Dynasty pure execution of death versus waiting for the end and then discovering with Noel quotes that you have.
A million other tasks that he completely forgot about.

Christian Mccarrick:
[53:20] Yes no absolutely I totally agree about that and it is the saying it’s called is it a measure twice cut once to write to make sure you could have do your planning ahead of time so that your execution can be a lot more effective in the talent.

[53:34] What is things Orion.

Oren Ellenbogen:
[53:39] It always takes time like even if people I remember the first few times that I did it with my teammates that they were feeling that you know they’re spending.
You know more time on planning versus just reading code and they didn’t appear that the planning was affecting for them.
Then you know looking at the end of the project and looking back at what we missed.
They saw the potential of themselves days and rewriting you know it may be complete components just because a new Edge case.
I was basically killing their entire implementation so far.
So definitely this is going to be more effective there is a need to be to do more planning.
We’re planning makes sense if you don’t know what are the requirements it’s completely fine to go and do like a proof-of-concept that’s fine but that’s always a customer that’s fine,
but if you know exactly what are the requirements then in Hooks full ourselves that we need to do everything you know like we need directions,
where did you get those alterations will need to just very big rewrite at the end.

Christian Mccarrick:
[54:51] Absolutely.

[54:52] Absolutely and one of the things are in specifically with with you since you’ve you are a you know I produce reader such as myself and you create this this week we list are there any resources to you.
That in your years of doing this and ongoing that you.
She is standing out that you would recommend out for existing or new engine engineering managers that you know these are like the one or two things I should absolutely read or look at.

Oren Ellenbogen:
[55:19] Oh yeah so first time.
To be completely honest like I think it’s your 4th guy it’s a great start there are few more forecast that are great like the manager to.
And if you others that I really liked and the reason one video that I really enjoyed and if I need to recommend just one I would recommend that it’s just a Lowe’s I think that’s the name is follow the leader.

[55:47] And I can share the link with Dawn so you can put it in the notes but it’s basically talks a lot about what’s your role as leader.
How can you make sure that you care so much about others was no not care so much about the image that you have in their eyes.
So how can you motivate others how can you think of others without your basic needs of them know liking you.

[56:12] This is a very powerful video is like 4 minutes long so I guess everyone can watch it.
And it’s just a brilliant perception off you don’t need to focus on being friends with others being respectful of being respected of course.
But being lights or if you know being a friend of them I think that’s,
it’s a nice site for like if it happens but this is never the goal that the goal is to take care of your people to go to take care of the company so your company will be successful so you know what you want.
People want to lose her job if the company is not successful and.
This is like one of the best videos about of your commands very short and great speech.

Christian Mccarrick:
[56:56] Great I’ll try to put that in the in the show notes definitely prefer people to say go online simple leadership that I owe check out the show notes with It Up episode I’ll definitely put that Lincoln there at 1 what’s the best way for anyone to get ahold of you to reach out to you if they have any questions,
I want to talk to you about any of the items will you be mentioned on the show today.

Oren Ellenbogen:
[57:16] So my Twitter handle is at Owen ellenbogen,
which mind my last name is pretty long I’m sure that that would be helpful with the with the notes,
and also if you want to reach out via email then it’s my name at so feel free to reach out ask me for anything else so if you want to talk feel free to ask I would love to share it with you,

Christian Mccarrick:
[57:45] A perfect with Lauren I appreciate the time today and I calling in from Tel Aviv I know it’s kind of getting late there but definitely enjoyed our conversation today I’ve been want to have this conversation with you for a while and actually catch up and kind of meet you too had a great time and thank you very much.