The Importance of Self-Advocacy with Arquay Harris

Arquay HarrisArquay Harris is the Director of Engineering for Customer Acquisition at Slack. Prior to Slack she was a Web Development Manager at Google where she lead a large team of Information Architects, Developers and Designers. Before that, as Director of Engineering at CBS Interactive, she oversaw the development teams for the B2B brands including ZDNet and Moneywatch. Arquay is a developer who also has a Masters in Design and she loves the marriage of form and function. When not working she can be found cooking, stumbling over guitar chords or watching Seinfeld.

In today’s episode, Arquay and I discuss the importance of self advocacy and taking ownership of your career path.

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Christian Mccarrick:
[0:05] Good afternoon Arquay welcome to the show.

Arquay Harris:
[0:07] Hello thanks for having me.

Christian Mccarrick:
[0:08] Absolutely and I’d like to do asked you are coming into the office in person and I love that I think it’s always had something special to the country when you can sit down and actually talk in person and and look at you face to face and you’re in San Francisco and where are you at right now.

Arquay Harris:
[0:23] I am the engineering director at slack and did you mean physically where am I.

Christian Mccarrick:
[0:26] Excellent no just like yeah but where you working right now.

Arquay Harris:
[0:30] Engineering director that’s like and I overseed two different groups that slack which are essentially the top in the bottom of the marketing funnel so the one team is called customer acquisition.
And we do mostly slack.com and other top of funnel stuff some life cycle things as well.
I am in the other team is called upgrades and expansion and that team is the very bottom of the funnel until we deal with getting teams to convert from free to paid flag.

Christian Mccarrick:
[0:55] Sure and when are you give me a little bit and our listeners a little bit of background about how you got to be where you are today it’s like.

Arquay Harris:
[1:01] Yeah I would say that I had a pretty much of a non-traditional back row,
engineering which is not a common initially when I started school I was going to be a math teacher I just love math so much I was president,
and I wanted to teach math to middle school children but then somewhere along the way I I,
I had always like to do sort of creative arts I had to had an after-school job and high school a person learn how to do Photoshop and illustrator and I really like that kind of thing and so I won’t point I just,
change majors and I went to a school in my my focus was actually media arts for I did film and video and Pro Tools and you know how to do digital illustration.
Until I transition to coding because I didn’t like this process of Designing this thing and handing it over to someone else to code and so I thought well,
I’m pretty analytical have this kind of math background if I can figure it out and teach myself so I started doing the flash development then later started formalizing it with PHP and then my seat,
and then when I actually moved out here I continue my education in grad school and did more you know Java and more my Sequel and and then also fine art painting in 3D I think that I have,
a very non-traditional background of that since I graduated school.
When I graduated school my first company post post a graduate was my first company out here,
I was just going to go see now.

Christian Mccarrick:
[2:30] Absolutely things to be right around the corner here yeah.

Arquay Harris:
[2:33] Yeah so I consider them kind of a grand on Media company and so I started there as a developer.
And then I went from developer to you to see if I was there I got into management we can talk about that too.

Christian Mccarrick:
[2:47] Sure.

Arquay Harris:
[2:48] Got into management and then yeah I just continued on after that I went to Google and then.

Christian Mccarrick:
[2:55] Excellent and it’s good to hear that.
For listeners to especially ones that have mentioned before that are getting into injury management that there is no clear path right.
It’s very traditional it’s somewhat traditional it’s non-traditional and I think that’s that’s important to know as well especially for some members of Arbor underrepresented groups some of the things where it’s okay we all got here through the non-traditional route.
And and that’s what I wanted to know Express to the listeners today.
You can come up into the ranks of not only software engineering but suffering dream management leadership by not necessarily having a CS degree from Stanford.

Arquay Harris:
[3:32] Yeah yeah,
I could not agree with that more and I I also think that especially the time that I was doing it which was which using us some years ago there wasn’t really a place to put what I wanted to do,
right so I think now you know Berkeley has this program where you can kind of make your own major until that is essentially what I did sorry it in curriculum I just,
I see classes and you know coding classes at but then also combined it with with Art and Design because I wanted to design and create things and then also build them but you’re right like it there I don’t I don’t want to say that I have the same,
I’m trajectory as someone who just did a full-on formal Cs and then went on to be like a sweetie or suffering.

Christian Mccarrick:
[4:14] Well now you’re at a company that I think is pretty good match because they value and of stock values kind of ux and design and usability as highly as as the underlying engineering as well.

Arquay Harris:
[4:25] Yeah completely and I feel like the schooling that I got,
really serves me well I’m a job that I’ve had because for example when I was at Google I had a team and the team who reported to me,
consisted of information architect designers and also developers and I felt that giving the background I could have really something to have conversations with designers and talk about grit in safaga.
And and color theory and that kind of thing and then also whiteboard some architect architect some solution with an engineer and so yeah I think,
I think all of those things combined I really contribute to the work that I’m able to do today.

Christian Mccarrick:
[5:00] Excellent and you didn’t mention before which I do want to get into so how did you go from that individual contributor into the management path like how did that happen.
Sounds like a good story. Right.

Arquay Harris:
[5:12] I think I think would happen to me is really what happens to a lot of people who first,
start doing Engineering Management which is at someone on your team either leaves or the company your manager leaves or they need to grow the team and so they take the most senior most productive engineer and never thought about management,
and you’re like no but that sounds like a promotion let’s do it you do it and then whenever that happens that that has an instant impact on the team,
and that is it your team until it becomes less productive because you taking the person who is the most productive and made it to that they,
I no longer in Belize a code right and then you have the situation where that person was previously peers with people and they also have this knowledge that because they were,
preview for the top form they can probably do things best so you have this tension between the manager wanting to go in and code review,
or architektur essentially do things that the manager should not do physically if you have a larger team.
And so for me I would probably totally honest I think when I first started I was probably not the best manager and it probably took me a couple years to,
realize this how bad I was an embedded in the sense of not that I was doing anything catastrophic but just that I hadn’t developed the kind of muscle memory and techniques and strategies for being able to effectively lead a team,
so yeah so that’s all I got into it.

Christian Mccarrick:
[6:36] Going to think what you say to is is true whether you with the traditional or non-traditional background I think coming from that engineering.
The individual contributor to manager most of us on our first managerial jobs in technology have not had a lot of exposure.
To managing outside right so it’s a double whammy like I said I love you you’ve lost that top performer you’ve gained a newbie.
Write a very green manager who doesn’t know all of the tools that you said to me that memory have lyrics in motion intelligence and what to say what not to say in and.
Delegation right now I think it’s another big thing though.
The other thing I like to ask because it everyone makes them right what what do you as you look back you say maybe we’re the best motor any mistakes that stand out to you as soon as you kind of cringe now.

Arquay Harris:
[7:22] Just a couple or how much time is.
No I think one of the biggest things that that I learned and then I try to,
practice today is to really set clear boundaries which you I didn’t really do starting out and part of it was.
Because of the situation that we just talked about where if you have a situation where your peers with people and maybe after work you go to the bar and you hang out in your best friend becomes really difficult to say hey you you really screwed up on this thing.
Are you willing to be accountable for this because you’re not going to have that type of tough conversation with your BFF and so.
For me I think that I think that I could say the first time in two years that you really do need to set,
really clear boundaries I feel the way that I run my team’s today is I absolutely love every single person who works on my team now and truly who’s ever worked for me in the past I I probably still have pretty decent relationship,
with all people who were previously on my team but I I have really friendly relationships but I’m not friends with them,
I try not to be friends with the people who work on my team because being friends with them implies that it’s it’s a more casual relationship and I need to be able to have those tough and partial conversations.

Christian Mccarrick:
[8:35] Absolutely and you think that holds true to their were in your organization but not reporting directly to you would you still sick as hell. Same guidelines.

Arquay Harris:
[8:42] I think and I don’t want to make it seem like I’m just robot I can like I am not friends I know it but it’s I think I try to maintain just,
professional boundaries in general because,
things change that person who’s your peer today could be your boss tomorrow right so it’s not that I think for me it’s more just about,
thinking about everything that you do have some sort of impact and that just trying to be conscious of that at all times.

Christian Mccarrick:
[9:11] Sure so you mentioned in definitely setting boundaries any other recommendations or tips that you would serve coach a new engineering manager.

Arquay Harris:
[9:21] Yes another thing that I think I’ve even tried to do from the very beginning,
is take this approach that there is no one-size-fits-all management style and that a lot of times we have these,
ideas and our mind about what leadership means and what even it means to be an icy and we project that onto the people who report to us and so I think that I’ve tried to always just not make assumptions about people so much so that you know a lot of managers do this that when I first have,
a new report I’ll have a conversation that I call in the show one-on-one for ask them how do you like to receive feedback in how do I know if you’re upset about something I really just taking it in a case-by-case because what works for one person,
may not work for another and being able to recognize that and I know the difference.

Christian Mccarrick:
[10:06] No that’s that Stephanie Exxon,
know what I want to spend some of the rest of the time in the theme of this conversation tell me about something that you know we had a conversation on the phone before this and it’s dear to my heart and it and it sounds like it is to you as well and it’s really about how do you go about in the counsel of self and Powerman and taking ownership of your own career path introductory right,
and you know so how did that when did you realize that.
This is career advancement in introductory is really something that you as a person as to own and someone sucking just going to hand it to you.

Arquay Harris:
[10:40] I think,
I probably realize it a little bit earlier than some because as you mentioned being a urm and in this industry you kind of have to realize that just it it just innately the obstacles are going to be a little bit different right so you have to advocate for yourself,
into the city of self-advocacy became really important to me you know even very recently like past weeks past days because I.
What’s consistently having conversations with both e m sand and I see is where people would say things like oh you know what manager never promotes me or you know how come these people to promote the lni dotard,
basically making it to that the onus of your own career introductory is on your manager and I think that.

[11:27] I think that we are conditioned because we are all empathetic and lovely,
I think that oh I don’t want to show Too Much Hebrew Astro not going to brag on myself I don’t want to like you know it’d be too pushy and I think that I really would like to change the mindset of,
people to realize I know you’re not being pushy you are actually giving your manager is the tools that they need in able to make informed decisions and so I think,
my focus in this is really to educate on both sides,
to say that it is the manager’s responsibility to take career growth very seriously and to help be that advocate for the people who work for them but also that you need to have a certain amount of self-advocacy as well because,
you know you’re both I think equally responsible for career growth.

Christian Mccarrick:
[12:12] Exactly and did you have someone in your path that was a mentor or coach that cert help you along the way to to realize this concept of self advocacy and get over the pitfalls and we have to do.

Arquay Harris:
[12:23] I got this question before and I barely contemplative about it because I think.
I would love to say it was great I got so many people but I think that that I realized and that I I tried to pass on is that mentorship in and of itself there’s an inherited Mount of privileges.
Because if I am a CTO of a company if I’m a VP I probably have maybe I have 3 hours extra in a week that I don’t have to deal with my family or my team or any of the other things and so.
You are more likely going to give that opportunity to someone in your immediate circle right by.
Give the nephew of the person that you went to you know boarding school with or whatever.

Christian Mccarrick:
[13:08] Oh that’s for sure.

Arquay Harris:
[13:09] Exactly exactly and Anna and I don’t and I don’t mean that in and of a grudging sense at all it’s just very much the reality of the situation and so for me I would say that mentorship came to me much later.
And it came generally in the form of peers and just really collectively having conversations about.
You know I do this in this works and I don’t do that in that works but I think that when I was coming up I will say that that is why I think that.
Maybe I didn’t have the early instruction I would have really benefited me as a as a young manager starting out.

Christian Mccarrick:
[13:44] Yeah and I think that is we talked about just not only.
You should have South Argosy and taking control of your career path I think what I found is as myself personally being an engineer and then my teams is we’re very assertive.
Pragmatic and practical and logical and I like you to solve the problem right and I think one of the things that I see you as well is that.
People are very busy solving a problem and showing the result.
And not necessarily telling the story about how they solve the problem how important it was the impact it had and how much effort it took.
Right and I think that communication is that specs hurt.
Stepping stone to that sort of self-advocacy right to take the notes to communicate up I had a I had a coach at one point I was I was on a project it was it was just a very busy project we are on time I’m actually delivered on time.
But at the time I see you is not necessarily so pleased with everything and it cuz I had spent all my time on the project and the deliverables but less time educating him and communicated to him about the status in.
Burns and it was and we’re all working nights and weekends and we just assumed that well I get you said I was going to be done on time I got done in time great and now it’s next time I felt how could you not understand this Monumental task adjusted.

Arquay Harris:
[15:08] Yeah I absolutely and I I try to.
Help my reports and uneven people around me who are my team I try to share tools that will help people along this path so a couple of few things that I do you are.
I’m happy to go with me so,
and this because I cannot believe this is a partnership in this is like a thing that is working I see them aside so one thing I do is I have a week-long calendar invite that’s called Career of conversations and every person on my team bike to it,
and every 4th you know 101 we talk only about career growth,
that’s not to say that that’s the only time that we talked about it but at least once a month we will spend an entire 30 minutes talking just about that.
Absolutely we go over that we have a career path ladder document like a lot of companies we go for all the four quadrants and we talked about how each person is fairy in each other’s quadrants.
And then what I also do is encourage them to keep something called I called it an accomplishment list and I say that you can keep it at your current company you should ideally take it with you from job to job and the idea that is to the highly kind of what you were just talking about so you you,
keep track of every single thing that you’ve done at I worked on this big project I my involvement was this but then more importantly you take note of the impact of that project,
because if you could be like I work in this great flashy thing and what.

[16:38] I didn’t move numbers with her growth year-over-year like what was the result of you actually doing that and some things are not as easily measured with quantitative data,
if that’s an what is a qualitative result of whatever it is that you did.
So I think and then the other thing that I do is meant by the way it was when I say that I encourage you to do this I encourage it because people still have this notion that me know,
it’s my manager’s responsibility to keep track of what if your manager leaves the company what if you’re from you get transferred to another team what if I mean.

Christian Mccarrick:
[17:08] Are your managers managing 15 people.

Arquay Harris:
[17:10] Absolutely because I consider myself.
With no streak of hubris I consider myself a good manager right I don’t know everything you’re doing I have a team of you know dozens of,
I cannot keep track of every single thing and even if I could there’s going to be a ton of stuff is just going to let you know that is going to have different significance based on my context of a situation right and so the things that I do is,
when a person decides that they are ready for promotion are we planning,
well in advance what happens a lot of times people see other people getting promoted and they’re like I want to get promoted and the promotion Cycles a month away I’m like,
you missed it maybe the next exactly exactly was once a year like we you know so.
I think really having that prior planning and having frequent conversations in equipping yourself with proper tooling nothing really can contribute to success in that area.

Christian Mccarrick:
[18:08] Absolutely and I mention this before on this podcast as well as a manager.
If I have an in an engineer or other matter to come to me with their list of the concerts for the year at that year in review cycle when I’m buried.
That’s it that’s golden for me and I’m going to help them because they’ve actually gone above and beyond to make their case and resent it to me and that makes it easier for me to go to you know HR or that when I’m done with budget to say well not only did they do this work,
became very prepare their professional they knew what they wanted and it’s almost.
I don’t say sure thing but it certainly helps the package or are we going to talk about promotions whether its monetary or there it’s actually you know actually going a job level.

Arquay Harris:
[18:50] Could not agree more and I think you know sometimes Engineers we do things that are where it where the practice of doing the exercise helps with whatever the task is like we write technical specs to help us think through the problem right that’s,
the real,
the core purpose of writing a text back right and so this is the same kind of thing where the practice of going through and consistently thinking about the accomplishments through the lens of what is the impact.
Then when you go and you can have a conversation with your manager you can turn feedback from subjective feedback like you need to communicate better,
200k objectively what do I need to do in order to get to the next level these are the things that I have done what where the gaps and and whatever I need to do to get to the next.

Christian Mccarrick:
[19:32] Sterling and I think two things you mention they’re very good going back to you talk about the career ladder right so having a career ladder is such an important tool.
For managers to be able to point out that Gap I could just mention until for companies that don’t have career ladders that and the listeners out there that don’t.
Highly recommend whatever you can do there’s examples online I think Under Armour has a great one which I was shocked at and and there is the Rent the Runway and then Camilla had one to put out there,
very awesome once you start out if your small start-up go take it to HR or just implemented in your group as well it’s really good with expectations.
And the second piece and you keep talking about impact right and I think that is also extremely important right and for people whether it’s,
I’m in your own organization or interpretation you looking to get promoted or if you’re an engineer manager looking to go to a new job when it’s one of the first things that is hiring managers and screeners look at it from a resume standpoint it’s.
You know I ran this project what does that mean right,
you want to see that quantifiable data on that resume and that’s the thing that really opens up hiring managers eyes and a Charles eyes when they’re scanning while you help the bottom line ouu help group new users you use you get your satisfaction score up or down whatever it is.
I think it’s so important to really measure that impact that’s why I just wanted to let you know double up on that.

Arquay Harris:
[20:50] Yeah it went one thing pads if I decide if she can let you know that you read the blogs that this whole idea of having an impact as is a bit controversial because people feel like oh well that’s the way to game the system and I I like to say that,
people sometimes complete scope with impact,
because I think you don’t as an engineer or even as a director of you don’t get to choose the project that you want to work on you didn’t really have to work on what is important to the business and if.
If you know it was important to the business right now is making internal tools to make it to the engineers can be more efficient than that is what you should do with it within your group now I think the reason why I want to try that distinction is because,
I have written promo packets for people who have conceptualized and created just an email that has had Top Line impact right on Grove,
and it’s like that is not a technically complex thing that I have tremendous and pack so I think really training yourself to understand the difference between those things and really be able to communicate effectively why it matters and in terms of your contributions.

Christian Mccarrick:
[21:53] Going back a little bit what are some things that maybe you have from a specific examples that you’ve done for yourself and your own self advocacy over your career.

Arquay Harris:
[22:04] Yeah I would say that I’ve never.
Professionally had a situation where a manager has said you’re great like we’re going to promote you that’s just never happen.
And that is not a criticism of any of the past managers that have had it that’s just not in my experience what generally happens and so for myself part of it is keeping that keeping track of all the things that I’ve done and really having conversations of you know,
I feel like I provide this amount of value to the company I feel like I’m operating at this level and have been for ideally you know x amount of months or so,
however you know whatever the case may be and I think that I’m ready to go to the next level and I think that the conversation then becomes either yes absolutely we think this is great but we want to wait a little bit so.
This is a technique that I try to employ and I’m giving this advice to people as well as some of us are going to have a situation with a manager where they like yeah I agree you’re doing great keep keep keep doing what you’re.
Doing right that’s my oh yeah it’s a podcast I’m putting thumbs up for the people I think one of the most painful things that a manager can say.
Keep doing what you’re doing because it is it is basically a nothing statement and so I find that if I have a conversation like that.
And then I will set an internal clock with myself I was I will follow up I will say okay.
Woody if you think there’s no caps can we set a time when will this happen if I feel like that I’m really just being stalled or then then it’s time for me to.

[23:40] Probably either leave that job look for another role because,
then I’m not in a place where I feel like the manager is either advocating or on my behalf are not in a position to do so neither Witcher good so.
I think this is the sole of suffering in silence and is never good and I think the other thing is.

[24:01] This is hopefully not too much attention but I think people.
I’ve had a lot of people over the years you’ve reported to me you have at what I call skill inflation where they’re at their like I’m amazing I’m operating a principal engineer level in,
nope your unit tests are terrible where are you going to test,
so so I think that people get skill inflation and they think that you know it. Those are very difficult conversations and then people even if you give them direct feedback for whatever reason people are not receptive to it,
and I think that I also challenged people to if you are in a situation where you feel like your career stalled and you don’t know why,
there could be a soft calibration issue but on the other hand if you feel like you’re in a position where you have truly met the requirement you can provide substances,
evidence to that fact and you still or stall then at you know that’s when it’s time to really you know hit the hit the dial on that internal clock that you said.

Christian Mccarrick:
[24:56] And what do you think what it what is that for four people is it 90 days at 6 months what do you think.

Arquay Harris:
[25:01] So I am going to say if there is a case-by-case I’ve told the story of the four why did this at one company and I gave us this company a year and people are like a year that’s and I think it really is going to depend on your situation because.
And in the end it’s pretty cool situation if you have a team that you really supporting and there’s going to be catastrophic effects to you leaving or maybe there’s a big project that you’re trying to finish or whatever it is but then there’s other places where you like,
three months of done I think you’re really I know that’s the age-old answer it depends but I think it is really going to have to be.
You know specific to whatever your situation is at the time.

Christian Mccarrick:
[25:36] So then in your specific case every sort of promotion you’ve gone through has been really initiated by yourself whether applying for an open spot or going to your direct manager and saying I’m ready put me in.

Arquay Harris:
[25:52] That is accurate yeah and that is not the say so I feel like I have been,
fortunate in my career to have been able to lead teams and and have really great jobs in to work that I love and I think that I’ve also been lucky to have managers who will advocate for me,
and who have given me opportunities I’ve had opportunities to leave giant teams or two to be a director of engineering,
but I hadn’t really done those things before a based on past trajectory they were willing to give me the opportunity to do those things but it all goes back to what you said earlier which is that happened because I was able to go in and take a look at this and this and this and this.

Christian Mccarrick:
[26:31] Great I don’t think there’s this there’s a soft-coated study I think it’s from HP internally they they talk about you know mental apply for a job at they feel like they hit 60% of of the qualifications red and women it’s closer to 100%.
Right and you interesting hbr D to follow.
Study on that and what they did if they serve any more people and said it wasn’t necessarily from that that woman felt that they were on qualified for the job.
So wasn’t a strict confidence issue it was they just didn’t feel they would get the job.
Which is very different things so it’s not necessary confidence think it’s maybe an education or about how the hiring process works right so what are your thoughts on that whole study in those than the statistics.

Arquay Harris:
[27:15] Yeah I had not read that that that totally is fascinating and I think that that same idea can correlate to just promotions in general right like you know you have situations where women aren’t put up for promotions at the same percentage rate as men,
hover when they are put up they get it and that’s because and so that is.
Depending on how you look at it a positive or A negative because the negative is just like maybe women aren’t giving these stretch opportunities to be able to do that but then the other is.
I think I don’t I don’t know I have.

Christian Mccarrick:
[27:52] That’s okay.

Arquay Harris:
[27:53] Google her that’s a hard question because I think I of I am actually quoted that’s why I’m really fascinated that I hadn’t read this article because I have.

Christian Mccarrick:
[28:01] I’ll forward you the hbr one too and I put in the show notes so people can look at it as well.

Arquay Harris:
[28:04] Yeah I and I think I think.
I think there’s a lot of things that play when we talking about gender roles and promotion and all of these things because another things that I.
Talk about a lot is this idea that women allowed in my experience on promotion committees in a calibration and things like that.
Women for example are expected to do that when I consider the sort of,
like managerial tasks on projects like scheduling meetings are taking the notes or kind of wrangling everyone together,
and then when it comes time to promotion they penalize for over-indexing on non-technical things right and so I think they’re just like a lot of things at play and some of it is also the way that we are social condition,
and this is a full circle thing because it goes back to this idea of self advocacy and really trumpeting what role that you play on different project because if we are conditioned to think that women should be nice and,
I’m bossy and pushy and all of these things then then you’re not going to be the person who at line-for-line itemizes all of the awesome contributions that you made,
because that would be considered not a good characteristic.
And one one more anecdote about that is I.
I went with your girls eat dinner where I saw Megan Smith speak she was in a restaurant Indiegogo and she was she site of the study that it happened where,
I just want company they did performance reviews and they,
compare them identical performance reviews one had a woman same one had a man say Mentos for the woman if she didn’t help with a job that was not part of her core responsibility people would say.

[29:43] The performance review would be like how she just totally not helpful I can’t believe it and they would Dean for her for not helping,
for a male they would be like oh my goodness Bob is so helpful and he would get praised right but if she help,
no change the idea behind that is just like what how our perceptions of gender roles affect the workplace and also just promotion and self,
Pakistan General.

Christian Mccarrick:
[30:08] And so that being said I’m in as well as a woman leader in technology today you know you feel that you’ve had to work harder at South Argosy you’re nodding strong yet.

Arquay Harris:
[30:26] People in my drama Korea have often asked me do I do I have experienced a lot of discrimination being a black person,
and Tech and generally I think about it and in the answer is probably no not not overt racism like that like I’m sure you know racism has all forms but,
not nothing kind of overt racism that you would,
that comes to mind but as a woman oh man it is way worse in fact because I think you get this bigotry of low expectations you get,
people constantly questioning whether or not you are Technical and inform me as a urm as well,
generally when I’m in a room with a lot of people people assume that the white male in intern is in charge of the meeting this happens constantly where has happened a lot of times throughout my career and so I think.

[31:15] I think that is really challenging but I think.
You know it’s I don’t really have any no it is just really counting on to say hi.

Christian Mccarrick:
[31:26] Sure now as it as a manager or leader what steps do you take if mention some of them specifically around having this monthly meetings,
surround a working on Career specific River and I think that is awesome,
I highly recommend that that’s an awesome idea so this turns out they’re just even a fact of taking the time to focus on career path and Corruptions instructor is really awesome what other do you do what other things do you do to help.
Your direct reports you know how do you coach them this be on doing that.

Arquay Harris:
[31:57] Hey I try to make sure that they always know what is expected of them,
both from me as their manager and organizationally.
I am within their role because I think the other thing that’s important is to make sure that you set relyx,
realistic level appropriate expectations because.
What’s expected of an associate engineer is quite different from what’s expected from a senior engineer hoping to get promoted to staff,
and and so I think trying to put some sort of guide them along that path and make sure that they have an ability to to develop and grow in a trajectory that’s appropriate for their level,
and and I think also what I try to do is just,
continually challenge them I think trying to be engaged making sure that they themselves are not complacent in that I is our manager I’m not complacent and just being like you know this person has got it will just a psycho,
and then from a team Dynamic standpoint I also very much believe in.

[33:03] I guess all the way to say it is just feel like spreading the work around sometimes we get into this pattern on teams especially where people say oh like this person John is amazing at everything list is give John all of the great price.
And I kind of liking it too I say this thing where I see stars are going to shine right you put them anywhere they will do amazing and every team has that one or two to people who is just amazing at everything,
so then what tends to happen is any new shiny thing that comes along with that person gets it and so I as a manager have all these or not.
Not overly so but really focused on kind of that middle middle layer right those people who just need that extra little push that actual bit of encouragement to really reach their fullest potential.
And I think that there’s a lot of ways that you can do that not always rewarding the most extroverted people on the team because there is strength in introversion.
You know making it to that people treat each other with respect and and not that everyone has to be best friends or play going to go bowling after work but that there is a shared we show respect and building that layer of respect makes it so that people can do their best work.

Christian Mccarrick:
[34:08] And you can bring up a nation point to about kind of extraversion versus introversion and what about your how do you also potentially coach that.
Other aspect of promotions and advocacy right it’s that being your own personal marketing you know arm for a special for someone is introverted and.
You might have,
someone higher up in the company who always notice is that shining star that you talked about but you have a really awesome solid person here who doesn’t get the attention you know from a boat how do you helping coach them directly.
As a manager and also helping them may be in directly in the organization to do anything specific.

Arquay Harris:
[34:47] I absolutely do and this I’m not kidding I’ve literally had this conversation with someone yesterday who is it I think it’s a fantastic amazing engineer,
but maybe a little bit on on that sort of humble side right and I think that for me when I try to instruct is that there are lots of ways to,
to advocate for yourself you don’t have to get up and talk at and I’ll hand so you don’t have to give a presentation in front of a thousand people all the time.
Hey there’s other ways and then went so for example,
maybe you don’t like public speaking but you are a great writer and so you write up as fantastic documentation that helps Engineers write better test,
or maybe you have an initiative about how to you know my great one part of the code base and so you work on that there’s a lot of ways that you can through your work,
advocate for yourself but the thing is that you have to make sure that other people know about it and if and if.
Verbal communication is not your thing then you need to figure out a way to do it non-verbally and then maybe you start with the smaller group,
maybe you don’t present at the All Hands or maybe you started doing a brown or brown bag or just an informal talk at your work and then proliferate things that way maybe you Mentor people really well and then you get a reputation as someone whose team building and I think,
it takes also goes back to the other part which is,
if you are not able to be vocal than you really need to work extra hard on making sure that your manager knows of your accomplishment so that when it comes from what time you can say look I did all of these things this is why you be able to shine that light on yourself and other people can’t see you in the spotlight.

Christian Mccarrick:
[36:25] Sure sure and in that same process there is going to be introverted people on your team extroverted people your team do you give any different guidance to people say women.
Engineering high versus male Engineers as it relates to you no promotions in South Africa.

Arquay Harris:
[36:40] That’s how much is a release to Promotions but I try to.
I was just this is not a Shameless plug with slack as a tool helps me do my job better because I’m able to be a much more efficient engineering manager because I can just get cut off on,
decisions are happening I can just read the channel and I’m I go okay I instantly know how the decision was made,
and so that is to say that a lot of times I will observe conversations are interactions and channel.
And the people sometimes do things that they don’t even recognize that they’re doing,
Charlie Charlie look at the psychology of the thing so for example I’ve had female engineers in my team who will do this this this kind of thing where they say,
you know you know you can ignore me if if you don’t agree or or I mean or I just my opinion or just kind of like,
precursors to their opinion instead of just saying I think we should do this and end and generally these people are right,
the right when they’re saying these things but it’s just this I don’t step on toes kind of thing and so.
I try to Impossible try to point this out and say you have extremely valuable contributions to the team just go for it just just give your opinion your tone is not disrespectful this is great like you don’t need the preamble.
And then likewise I think so and I think in that regard it can kind of be.
It does tend to be more women who do that than men but I’ve seen it on both sides though.

Christian Mccarrick:
[38:08] That’s a great point I had someone as well who would kind of sort of in the speaking room with Endo most every sentence with.
You know that it’s an uplift making a new question is like you just said something that was great but then you is that at.
How do you think I know that was a great thing. Sentence stating right and and I had that feedback and.
I think it’s made a big difference but it’s important you think maybe that doesn’t make a difference other people aware of her aware of it but they might not be so it’s that whole in a radical can or give feedback as well as possible from the slightest thing or not.
And there’s a great I think it’s on the transpac China one of them even if they have something if you say like hey guys like even just something like that there’s a bar that goes through and says you know it did transfers at know it’s on hey guys right we need to be upset of gender-neutral type of thing here.

Arquay Harris:
[39:01] Absolutely yeah that’s yes like ranz always as humans.

Christian Mccarrick:
[39:06] Yes yes and the that’s a good point about monitoring the slack channel is there I kind of sit out with my team,
so I can certainly do that virtual listening to those conversations but it’s also just a defective right to go through for this kind of auditing that history and seeing how those interactions helping as well.
Read what other recommendations that you might have for final thoughts about anyone that we haven’t gotten on this conversation about kind of the concept of self advocacy and and promo and just really embracing who you are and being confident that.

Arquay Harris:
[39:39] I like to,
when talking about promotions and getting to the next level I like to Austin and ask people with their High saturation is for themselves.
Someone people think in terms of five year plans and for me that that can work but if you ask me 5 years ago you know what I’ve been doing.
Definitely not the same.
And so but it’s so but I think that having an idea about what it is that you like to do your hair restoration really can be helpful in shape and guide you so for example,
recently interested in the Vassar to change my opinion but if you’d asked me a little while ago what that was for me I would probably say director of engineering.
Which is surprising right because why not CEO and when it CTO and for me it’s because I really enjoyed the day-to-day business of management,
I enjoy the connection of it with human people I enjoy mentoring people I enjoy really sharing with people and hoping that they learn for my many mistakes right.
So I think that when you get to a certain level you’re managing vp’s who manage director is he manager manager to manage people right and and and so.
I think that knowing that has aspiration it if it were to BECU I would have had a very different trajectory than the one that I’ve had I would have,
potentially maybe move jobs more or try to acquire larger and larger teams or have piano started a startup and get the kind of funding at some point in the very different things.

[41:13] 10 things that I’ve done in my career and so I think that really understanding that can help set you on a course because if you say that for example someday I’d like to become a people manager.
That is very different it is not a promotion from becoming an engineer is an entirely different track,
and it but if your highs aspiration is to become principal engineer Chief Architect then you should be doing very very different thing you should be acquiring for project you should be potentially reading different book for learning different things,
having different mentors right and so I think that,
having this very clear idea of what it is that you want to do and then being able to advocate for yourself and whatever that potential role is going to be is is very helpful and I think very cute.

Christian Mccarrick:
[41:57] Excellent point are you going to know where you’re going you know where to find the best way there.
Red irrespective of South advocacy everything else but just kind of weird generic Engineering Management do you have any resources that you recommend to managers were there blogs or books for slack channels and everything that kind of you recommend to someone if they asked you.

Arquay Harris:
[42:16] I have no idea.
That is an excellent question I think for me because the field that I’m in I Feel Like A change is so very rapidly I try to really read.
All the technology box I go to conferences I have some favorite that I love like I love an event apart I love all the stuff that they do smashing and so.
For me and I try to really,
stay abreast of my field and I think that that actually does help me become a better manager because then I can have conversations you know that are that are relevant and and.
I don’t have something to do with the people who report to me but then from a management standpoint I think.

[43:07] Look at it in things over my voice.

Christian Mccarrick:
[43:12] You know I think this discussion is a little bit specific to slack Michael is in VP engineering and he’s written books he gets talks everywhere obviously,
a big bonus and importance on the management side of Technology as well right how do you see that inside of slack is it really apparent that this is a really kind of an important thing and set aside from the management standpoint.

Arquay Harris:
[43:39] Yeah it’s really interesting whenever I meet people outside of flack and they talk to me about a lot because I think I sometimes forget that he is in a famous outside of the company.

Christian Mccarrick:
[43:48] Yeah except for you is like we just bought.

Arquay Harris:
[43:50] Yeah exactly I report directly to sell my coop and I think I definitely think that’s true I think we.
We are very young company right I’ve been there for a year and a half which is half the life of a company and so I think.
One of the reasons why I joined this company from the previously a very very large company is this this opportunity to.
Build something from the ground up so I am implementing policies and processes as an engineering manager that will potentially be used by the next 1000 maybe 5000 engineer,
and so to that end I think we are very much in the interest infancy of our training and,
education of engineering managers but that culture of.

[44:40] Really thoughtfulness and having managers who really care it is really there I think slack has a bunch of core values like.

[44:49] And I think empathy and don’t work principles behind working hard and going home and.
Do we have like we we just have a really strong commitment to engineering leadership and I think that’s really felt just threw out the company.

Christian Mccarrick:
[45:04] Great and what might be the best way to any of our listeners if they wanted to get ahold of you to reach out to you.

Arquay Harris:
[45:10] I am so bad at social media I have like.

Christian Mccarrick:
[45:14] And then researching I like to do a lot of research on my my my guests and it to the point where a little obsessive about it and I was stuck trying to find a lot information you like.

Arquay Harris:
[45:23] I mean I should like I have a Twitter account but it’s a hilarious story about how I have a fake Twitter that was created by my one of my first engineering teams,
it’s fantastic it’s like the funniest thing like that we all we all collectively share the password and they would just post just like really hilarious things about me it’s really funny but I don’t have.

[45:45] I would email my carrot my parents really care less you know that’s on my name is arquay so I’m pretty easy to find.

Christian Mccarrick:
[45:54] Okay we’ll perfect well arcade thank you very much for your time this afternoon I had a great conversation with you good luck at.
That slack and also you know helping all of the engineering managers that you have and throughout your the organizations and everything else in my guest here or I listen to your,
you know we all try to promote this this concept of improving the craft of injuring leadership and it seems like you know you’re very dedicated doing that so thank you very much.

Arquay Harris:
[46:19] Thank you so very much for having me I had a great time.