Employee Motivation with Jean Hsu


Jean HsuJean Hsu is an engineering leadership coach who is passionate about sharing her people-centric leadership style with teams from small start-ups to larger companies. Having worked at Google, Pulse, and most recently at tech start-up Medium, Jean brings a wealth of experience in both engineering and coaching to help get the best out engineering teams beyond the immediate product cycle or feature release.

Links to website and social media accounts





Show Notes:

The Manager’s Path

Turn the Ship Around

5 Dysfunctions of a Team

(translation provided by Google Api)

Show Transcript:

Christian Mccarrick:
[0:00] Good morning Jean how are you doing today.

Jean Hsu:
[0:03] Good thanks for having me.

Christian Mccarrick:
[0:04] Absolutely it’s my pleasure welcome to the show like most guests I want to go into a little bit and I think my audience loves to hear a little bit about the background of some the people in the show so,
if you could turn to start off just a little bit of the highlights of of you know how you got to where you are today.

Jean Hsu:
[0:19] Sure yeah I am I was at medium for a little over 5 years and left recently to start my own business and before that I was working Android development at Pulse which later. Quiet by LinkedIn and then.
Before that straight out of school I was at Google so worked at three companies and that took some time off after Google just to see what else was out there so.
A very big company Scrappy startup and then the growing medium sized start up.

Christian Mccarrick:
[0:50] You kind of seen it all right and was your background in software engineering.

Jean Hsu:
[0:55] My my degree was computer science and is a.
Bachelor of Science in engineering is that a liberal arts school so when I started.
When I started at Google I felt in a very underprepared an application side of things but now I really appreciate that.

Christian Mccarrick:
[1:16] And what was your role in you were Google.

Jean Hsu:
[1:18] New grad software.

Christian Mccarrick:
[1:20] Regrets are Frigidaire yeah and so tell me a little bit you’ve gone through that you mention a couple different size companies and then took some time off and most recently medium and you’d are five years and what was your role when you’re a medium.

Jean Hsu:
[1:34] So I joined as an icy I took nose five people five people in the product team so I was in taking a lot of ownership of the Futures I was building and then I was stepping into kind of tackle Eden Project Lead roles.
And then the last two to three years I really stepped into Engineering Management by the end of the last two years I was doing one hundred percent people management and people and.
Product teams.

Christian Mccarrick:
[1:59] Sure it was that something you aspired to or is it just heard you kind of fell into it the management side of things.

Jean Hsu:
[2:04] You know I’m not much of a planner so so your glass me what I think I’ll be doing in 5 years there’s no.
I mean I don’t think I would have thought five years ago that I would be doing this so I tend not to think too far ahead maybe I maybe I should.

Christian Mccarrick:
[2:20] As a business owner now.

Jean Hsu:
[2:21] Yeah so I don’t know I guess I.
I don’t know that I have aspired to move into management but as I started to see some of the rewards and impact that could have in that role I started to appeal to me a lot.

Christian Mccarrick:
[2:34] And when you kind of went into that role what was the team size that you are managing their.

Jean Hsu:
[2:43] Started off with just a few direct reports so Andy 324.
Team size by the 25 so.
Started off pretty gradually and I was doing kind of half where you know 30% of people management 70,
that coding and kind of moving in and out and ratcheting the different roles up and down for a year or so and actually took two maternity leaves while I was at medium to so that broke broke things up a little bit as well.

Christian Mccarrick:
[3:12] Yeah and what were some of the biggest challenges you faced becoming moving from that I see roll into Engineering Management anything that stands out.

Jean Hsu:
[3:20] I think a lot of it was my own mindset of what it felt to be productive.
I have this distinct memory of this one.
Morning I woke up and I looked at my calendar and it was all meetings and as a lot of my days were at that time and I have two kids so this was not an easy feat but I got my laptop out and opened up.
Three pole request delete you know if you hundred lines of code just so I could feel a little bit about myself,
before I started my day and so that was a pretty even though I had a lot of support that was kind of a rough transition because,
you know we go from this very tangible concrete feedback loop.
You know I felt the sting of committed this code and to you know I have this conversation with this person and then they did this thing and no one knows that I have that Commerce.

Christian Mccarrick:
[4:17] Exactly so what you gets into a little bit I think we’re going to talk about little later on the show sort of motivation and would try to go but no that’s a very common thing I’ve run into a lot of my Engineers run into its that.
Pull right into get you can’t get out of it because you need whether self-gratification or Instagram application yesterday and.
That’s a tough thing for new managers to let go right and entrusting and empowering other people to do it.
How did you how did you know after that initial thing are headed to evolve to be coming in peace with with getting away from the code more and more.

Jean Hsu:
[4:54] I think once I started to see the impact of the of the other things I was doing I mean it was a little bit of a slower feedback loop but also having you know my manager or coaches or just peers point out the things that I was good I,
I am good at what I find this that you know the things that.
Person is good at that helps move them into management they may not really be aware of that that’s you.

Christian Mccarrick:
[5:18] Sure sure until you were there for five years ended up being a manager at the end of the term it medium.
And then boom you started a company or at you kind of get out of software engineering I was completely and.
An announcement in a sentence with early and moving to serve your own in Denver now so tell me a little bit about what that is.

Jean Hsu:
[5:39] Time I start a coaching and Consulting business almost all my work right now is coaching,
so I coach anywhere from about 12 clients so I coach,
some team leads to some of them are still figuring out you know they’re kind of doing project leadership and they’re trying to figure out if they want to go into people people management or if they want to stay on a technical track,
all the way up through VPN jizz of smaller companies you know 20 30 people teams and everything in between the directors has of engineering.
Yes I help them kind of navigate the.
That she’s at they they face and the common common challenges of of moving up being an engineering manager being an engineering leadership.

Christian Mccarrick:
[6:26] Sure and what how did the transition happen I did you wake up you said you not a planner or as they just wake up my morning or like you know I’m done with this I’m going to go into something else.

Jean Hsu:
[6:36] Yeah I guess it was kind of something that was swirling around and in my brain because when I was thinking about what to do you know what to do once I moved on.
Yeah I was talking to a good friend and he said well.
I think you could do you can find a company with 10 to 15 people and you know join us out of engineering or VP engine grow that team and I.
I thought yeah I think I could do that and it seemed like a pretty I mean I hadn’t done it before but it seemed pretty comfortable like I knew the what that involved,
and then when I was thinking about this just starting a company and having to do the sales and marketing and the pitching and The Sewing and that sort of terrified me.
After having been at one company for 5 years and,
you know having two kids and just like having two kind of provide a lot of stability I think I was ready to really kind of dive into something very new and just see what happened.

Christian Mccarrick:
[7:39] Great what congratulations of that right cuz it takes or takes a lot of Courage little bit of leap of faith.
And I think you know you’re doing something now in providing a service that is is pretty needed in Ennis right now.
And is that what you thought to did you look around and say wow.
And he was just a struggle I was doing with and there must of their people or did you talk to other people and then heard similar types of struggles from other people and thought you could kind of fill the gap or need.

Jean Hsu:
[8:05] Yeah I when I was talking I started talking to other people and you know I’ve always had a lot of people that aight.
Was the question if I saw a lot of people doing it.

Christian Mccarrick:
[8:20] So did you how did you know there was a need for this.

Jean Hsu:
[8:24] Thought I started talking to people and I started to realize that what I.
The path that I had taken at medium was pretty unique because I had,
a few peers that I knew you would bounce ideas off of each other all the time so if I had a situation that I was working through you know I felt very comfortable you in a meeting or a nurse lock Channel.
Talking about very specific details and then talking about you know what I was thinking and what the strategy I was how I was approaching the problem and I had a very trusted manager to help me through the transition and.
Amazon around other companies I was seeing a lot of people who didn’t have that level of support and so they were.
You know they were like the only engineering manager in the ctOS sort of you know off doing something else or.
Yeah they just there like first time first-time managers and.
Their manager is a first-time manager and so so it’s kind of hard to to learn something that you don’t even know is a thing to learn.

Christian Mccarrick:
[9:29] That’s right yeah you don’t even know what you don’t know.

Jean Hsu:
[9:32] And so it so I just saw a lot of in a lot of the companies that are you know getting funded pretty young Founders in so I thought well,
need to hear something where I really would like to expand my impact Beyond one company and,
the best way to I feel like I can do that right now is to coach engineering leaders to become better more people Centric leaders.
And I also saw a lot of people that I know in my friends dealing with.
Poor management and says those that’s start of the the positive is like this is the way I felt like I can make the most impact the negative view is there a lot of.
Not great managers out there so from my perspective that was heard of my how I can make the most positive impact on on the industry.

Christian Mccarrick:
[10:20] Great and I agree I think that it’s it takes a.
It’s a lot that we don’t have the best you no sense of I think that would big thing was leadership and I think was considered important right and good management skills weren’t necessarily considered an important on the engineering side as they would have been on.
Chronicle softer you know sides of marketing or you know the business side of things right now do you think.
A lack of attention or importance put on management and Leadership training at some of these tech companies especially startups has led to.
The environment right now with some of these companies behaving poorly and some of the issues that were seeing in the industry today.

Jean Hsu:
[11:02] Yeah for sure I mean I think I’ll let you see this common pattern of.
In there several companies that I can think of where you’re the kind of have this reputation of they didn’t have any manager and now you know there a few hundred people or a few tens of thousands of people now they’re trying now they’re taking it seriously now they’re trying to get training at but a lot of.
A lot of that culture is really a built-in of people not thinking that managers do any worker that it’s they don’t know what it is right.

Christian Mccarrick:
[11:29] That’s right you can even Google went through that route.
Were they wanted to be kind of like this apple small going to be very kind of holography and very flat and then actually ended up going back more to to a management Focus organization and end with our project oxygen and everything else.
And showed some great how important actually management leadership is.

Jean Hsu:
[11:50] Medium actually for a number of years that I was there at but it was not so that’s kind of a myth that Pete that people believe about hell ocracy.

Christian Mccarrick:
[11:58] Yeah yeah just one flat.

Jean Hsu:
[12:02] In there is there was a very sore tired just that the authority was distributed.

Christian Mccarrick:
[12:06] Okay okay yeah which I think is important we get to that a second it was all around empowering Barry’s people in urine ization what is the.
What is some of the common issues that you see in your coaching right now that.
People observe one thing that is is common that you see the most about the clients that you had.

Jean Hsu:
[12:27] It depends on the company’s thing for people earlier on a lot of it is around.
Can it shifting their own mindset from doing what is being asked of them,
to stepping up and showing up with Solutions and plans and proposals higher up I feel like,
it’s a bit more people Centrix a lot of people in Lake hire leadership positions have.
Continent where they are because they’re very smart and they’re very technical.
And now they’re you know they’re now facing some challenges with how to motivate a team and how to relate to the individuals and their team on a deeper level.

Christian Mccarrick:
[13:13] End of the people coming to you are they coming of their own sort of free will or is it there their manager or the VC or someone else saying you know what you actually need to get some coaching.

Jean Hsu:
[13:25] I don’t think people are coming begrudgingly and a lot of people are reaching out to me directly some of them are the companies are paying for it.
Doing you know doing like the engine and a team leader are generi managers.
So it really depends is kind of a mix mix of everything I don’t have enough data points to say like this is what works.

Christian Mccarrick:
[13:46] Yeah yeah and what are some of the things that you tackle that kind of right off the bat when you go into kind of a new coaching session what do you think is the most important things for them to try to focus on.

Jean Hsu:
[13:56] Really depends some people I feel like it’s the it’s that transition of their own productivity they really gravitating back towards the technical work.
That’s pretty common I feel that. Path is actually some people feel like you have to move into management to move up.
But I feel like the technical path is much more known right you do more of more complicated more you no more important systems more critical systems.
And that pathes is pretty well paved.
A lot of people I think they’re moving into management and they’re or they’re thinking about it you know it’s an option for them and they don’t really know what that is and what is just laying out you know what I what I’ve seen that is what are the options and if they need to make a decision.
At that point where they can kind of delay it a little bit.

Christian Mccarrick:
[14:49] Excellent and you know a couple reasons why I love to have you on my show in my invited you on one we were on a set of title together at the Play-Doh event.
Play-Doh I’ll put in the show notes to I’ve talked about a thing before is it is I think a great resource for helping connect engineering managers and Leaders with with coaches in the area and it’s it’s a great service.
I know you’re at your part of the network as well.
That was a plug there right I’m on the mentor as well if you want to sign up to it actually is good to some of my managers here use it as well but also I find the writings that you do online on medium.
Places trade are very insightful and I think very informative and are good for the people injuring manage out there in general to to read and one of the ones in particular I think you’ve written recently was really about.
The concept of motivation and and how to managers.
I used to deal with motivating teams and finding what motivates them a little bit so that’s that’s transition a little bit into into going a little bit about you know kind of going through that article and you know what when you wrote that what will be your trying to lose your goal to accomplish.

Jean Hsu:
[15:58] I think at that point in a lot of my writing comes from the conversations and having you just meeting new people and that’s that’s a thing that.
I have a lot of thoughts about but I didn’t know was a common thing and I start to talk to more companies and realize that there’s a pattern there.
I wrote it because I felt like.
I’ve been in the situation where leadership wants people to take more initiative and you have the company grows to a size where the people who were you know that they had no choice but to just make decisions like 5 to 10 people,
they’re moving to deter becoming a size where you and your hiring and PM’s and designers in the people start to be not invited to meetings and then.
Engineers are sort of In A Daze to become feels like they become complacent.
They just do what they’re told and they’re not thinking critically or they’re not ID aiding and being part of the product discussions.
I’m at from the engineering side and I was this 70 right when I was right in the middle so it was clear as day to me and it was baffling to me that there was this huge Rift of,
God understanding and from the engineer’s perspective I really felt like people felt very stifled and they felt like.
You know I have ideas and every time I bring them up I’m told that I don’t have enough contacts or or not explicitly that I don’t have enough contacts but it’s like oh what we’re doing this next quarter so.

[17:32] Kind of feel like you get shot down in and while you’re at you know you’re doing icy work you really only have enough bandwidth to do that a few times before you just decide well I guess this is the type of company or not we are now we’re not going to do that anymore right.
I’m sorry I.
I really wanted to jot down my thoughts on Mike how to get out of that cycle and how to you know once you get past that growth phase how to get Engineers involved again in.
Act discussions and you don’t have them take initiative.

Christian Mccarrick:
[18:06] I maintain that kind of velocity that enable them to even start to grow in the first place.

Jean Hsu:
[18:11] Right because they’re not there I mean they’re not there to to really just going to do their jira tasks.

Christian Mccarrick:
[18:20] Pets.art maybe like that.

Jean Hsu:
[18:22] Yeah yeah but for the most part I think they they join a small or medium not ten thousands of thousands of people company because they do want to be involved in the product excited about the fission and.

Christian Mccarrick:
[18:38] I think that’s a in general that’s a very great topic.
As and not just on the motivation but on keeping people interested and excited and feeling at their part of a company as they grow.
Because you say you may have been not integral part of every conversation but you can’t be neutral part of the conversation as you grow it was one of the things.
That I found when I came here was we have his meetings with 25 people in them.
Because everyone wanted to be a part of every discussion but then I had.
You know times a pie how many meetings a week and and and hundreds and hundreds of hours of men are as it’s wasted meeting so I’m one hand are complaining about meetings and the other hand I want to be part of them right so how do you.
How do you suggest that you know managers helped to make their employees still feel involved in the process yet not have them go to like you know death by meeting.

Jean Hsu:
[19:36] I think it’s important to know what each individual engineer what they aspire to do so.
Some people may be in a phase where they’re being challenged by the technical work and they just want you know unlimited heads down time to focus on that that’s the that’s the vector of growth that they’re working with right now.

Christian Mccarrick:
[19:54] And it’s important they say that right now because I can change.

Jean Hsu:
[19:58] You know another engineer on your team might be that the technical work could be very easy there they can build any feature you ask them,
to build and then you really have to find something else for them to be motivated by maybe that’s taking on some of the the project management details or some of the coordination between a few Engineers or maybe that’s you know being,
much more heavily involved in the ideation and then thinking about through the strategy.
I think it’s critical that people have that relationship with her manager where they know the manager knows.
Set the engineer once I feel like in this industry that can sometimes.
Sapphire for you know that the fast-paced startup I can feel like we don’t have time for that that’s a luxury which is a little bit mind-boggling to me because like how can you motivate people if you don’t know what day.

Christian Mccarrick:
[20:49] It’s right that’s right yeah lot of again I bet you would like that we don’t have time for that soft stuff for I would have time for the management leadership stuff but.
You know you can say that and then in hindsight you know your engineers are on LinkedIn you know or looking for her for a new opportunity,
and I think we have there’s a problem that’s across the board we spend a lot of time on recruiting and guinea people in.
And then a lot of cases we don’t spend as much energy on retaining right whether it’s actual you know.
Retainment things that replace or the subtle things about retainment like you said making sure people are heard and management practices and advancement and other things like that.
So what do you think is the people that on feel people do not feel empowered or trusted to take initiative right so how do you overcome that.

Jean Hsu:
[21:40] So I think it’s important to get feedback from your team.
Sometimes there’s I think when there is that a different level so once you move into management or you. I’m the exact team there.
Maybe reasons why people don’t feel empowered I maybe they’ve if I said before they,
they try to participate a few times and they can you know list those particular instances you can start to see patterns of you know maybe there specific people who are kind of knowingly are not discouraging people from.
You pitching in maybe that’s that they.
Come up with ideas and then management decides that. Those are not good ideas that’s something that I feel like.
Very likely especially as he will try to get people to take an issue to the God come up with ideas to this brainstorm like hackathon right and.
A lot of times they aren’t good ideas because the engineers don’t have enough contacts and visibility into the team strategy and that the high-level priorities of the company so.
I feel like that’s kind of most that can be pretty dangerous because it’s almost a confirmation of like well we tried to get the engineers to come up with ideas.
Them to hold the ideas are terrible.

Christian Mccarrick:
[22:58] It’s right just like self-fulfilling prophecy.

Jean Hsu:
[23:01] Like this is why we this is why they don’t you know we don’t involve our engineers and in product thinking right but.

Christian Mccarrick:
[23:07] And I shut that program down.

Jean Hsu:
[23:08] And then we’re going to go back to this unit top down approach so I think it’s really important that when people try to implement change they do it thoughtfully and that they,
Amigo Implement guardrails so it maybe it’s that you know how you have a specific hackathon around you know increasing a conversion percentage or,
I’m not just like this do whatever you want right and people do these random things you’re like wow that was super rant.

Christian Mccarrick:
[23:33] Yeah I know it okay that’s great.
How does it help.
Yeah I mean you talk about so that’s part of the processing in your blog about the alignment of the team right and that alignment should kind of go up to the top right to corporate strategy and the corporate goals.
Which I think is another thing around motivation as well in other areas and and studies at a better job making sure that.
As a manager right that you explain the importance or the reasoning behind why they’re doing in a widget to write and if they’re just doing what you’re too because I feel like there are told that was with you to that could be disheartening right.
But it sort of a a quote I read I’m going to totally misquoted from I think it was John F Kennedy went to the NASA Center and.
Should have talked to someone in the hallway who is maybe in the custodian work and this is a Powerball has been told different settings but and you know I said this is turned the Moon the Moon landing Mission and he said you know you know what’s your role here instead.
I’m helping to put someone in the mood,
Brian Setzer that for him every aspect of that that was how he felt you know satisfied right he was part of something bigger and he knew his part in it it was necessarily to be the mechanical engineers,
Raconteurs but he still felt he was contributing because he he believed in the cause and and it was convenient it was spoken down to him.

Jean Hsu:
[24:57] Yeah I think an engineering team sometimes you have what feels like a hodgepodge of tasks and external request and you know Tech debt piling up and.
A lot of teams and I’ve done this to our we try to tackle everything at once right and it become feels very scattered so one of the ways that I found is useful for.
Motivating Engineers me it’s pretty simple as just like.
Having a theme for a Sprint or something of like this is when we’re going to do this type of work and grab a bunch of the bugs or issues that are around a certain issue a certain certain problem.
I know user-facing problem and then they they feel like.
Oh all the things I’m doing these two weeks are to improve you know the reading experience or something like that rather than I don’t know you know someone just assign this to me I don’t know why I’m working.

Christian Mccarrick:
[25:49] That’s a great point I think in general I totally agree that concept of themes yeah I member looking at my release notes here early on and I.
I just had like 3 pages of 270 items.
Let me never all across the board and it’s hard to not only for the motivational stamp point but if I’m trying to sell it out to some great new thing as well we did 375 unrelated items right your marketing can’t really take that and you know put a freshly salad,
what’s the themes and getting people deal to can I get excited behind that with metrics to I think important.
And you stop a change element so what does that mean to you so my introducing a change element.

Jean Hsu:
[26:30] Yes I think by the time that leadership for people to decide that they want something to change it’s difficult for that to be iterative change so if.
Let’s get people to come up with you know what we’ll have this one way I’ve seen companies do this is this a well,
are we have this planning cycle starting on Monday so or this new cycle so let’s do planning,
Wednesday’s everyone submit ideas and people are in the state where they’re you know they’re 100% heads down on I see where I can probably you know sprinting to finish whatever they’re working on for the last cycle they’re not going to.
You know take the two hours to write up something that they feel like they don’t have contacts on and that they feel like.
Is is probably not a great idea because they’re not to have an exercise that muscle and a long time right so I feel like the.

Christian Mccarrick:
[27:30] You know what your you have the what’s the how do you introduce a change element why is that important.

Jean Hsu:
[27:37] So the change element is important because when you.
When you try to change by the time that leadership or manager decides that you know people aren’t taking enough initiative.
The way that change happens is not going to be in Terraria can happen but it’s very difficult so in you’re probably at a point where you’re far enough from what you want that the rate of change is going to be extremely slow I’m so the change element could be something like.
Okay we’re going to stop product development do a 2.
Sprint in this type of work everyone’s coming off their projects or they’re all switching teams something that is it kind of shakes up the status quo and then,
you set up the parameters so that the new status quo is closer to what you want and I can get you to where you want to be faster,
because it’s some you know people realize that there’s change and then there’s some kind of excitement around that.

Christian Mccarrick:
[28:32] Agree that it’s important to do that because you know about the difference in her tooth and then more abrupt changing right and the guard rails I think it’s you put this in your in your post as well and you’ve mentioned it a couple of times.
Putting a parameters in place there’s you put them guardrails is equally as important to try to guide them towards the the outcome you want.
Right and then I’ll come might not happen right away but over a couple of these you know you might see something like that.

Jean Hsu:
[29:01] Yeah and I feel like the engineers I mean one one thing that I have heard is like well this is why we hire product people write this is their area of expertise.
And one one reason why I feel like it’s it’s critical to involve Engineers if you want things to be efficient is that Engineers are the ones who know what.
What’s the amount of effort that will go into something and so I’m off at and brainstorming.
Sticky notes and I will post them on this you know x-axis and y-axis of effort and impact and you know if your p.m. who’s not technical or you’re just I mean even if your technical but you’re not familiar with the code base and where the tech that is.
You could just choose the things that are super high impact right but would you want to do something that’s.
A 10 on impact and it’s like a yo 15 on effort,
maybe you’d rather just at 7 on impact but like a to an effort and the engineers can easily identify or they can take what is high-impact and kind of tweaked it so that it becomes,
much much lower effort.

Christian Mccarrick:
[30:06] And that’s a good point so what are you how do you how would you recommend handling organizations cuz sometimes volume start is engineering-driven organizations without product.
And then product gets gets introduced later right now the engineers.
Who had been base of be the ones driving it are no order-takers what I’ve heard in the past or how do you how do you recommend not change or transition happen.

Jean Hsu:
[30:32] So my take on process is that it’s effective when it feels organic and that.
At least from the perspective of Engineers it feels like it’s it’s resolving at a pain point so.
I think for it for a PS I liked that we know when I was at medium and we were starting off a lot of the teams before we had product manager is a lot of the teams were run by engineers.
And so you know I would work with another engineer and a designer and you don’t do the p.m. stuff and I really enjoyed that because it was.
You know like a 10-person product team and it was I thought it was cool that I could I could do that once it got to a point where I was you know was like this is not.
This is not really what I want to be doing you know 80% of my time then I was like thankful to have.
Can you join the team I think that you know if you early it can.
It can feel like you’re taking something away from me right and if you introduce them too late then you could have Engineers that are like that sign up for that I want to get back to work and so finding the right time at which it feels like hay were responding to the team’s feedback.
This is so now everyone can work more on what they actually want to be.

Christian Mccarrick:
[31:53] Sure you know that’s a good point like timing is everything as they say and I think the last Topic in your blog post is about.
You say you were bored to havior intentionally right.
I think the concept of reward for work is one that’s become some a controversial as of late right if you talk if you read it all about Daniel pink and some of his you know.
Concerts around motivation and some Behavior psychology.
It’s a your reward the people do work because they’re being rewarded or you know tell me about your thoughts on how you think reward should be used for Behavior.

Jean Hsu:
[32:34] So I don’t think I don’t think.
I’m not talking about like Financial rewards I’m talking more just like recognition you know the you’re going to wrote you’re going to be whether you realize it or not you know when you do your company all hands or you sent up the emails you’re going to be rewarding something.
I usually it’s the flashiest product changes and then for engineers who are splitting their time between you know.
Infrastructure technical debt and you know working on the new hot product product change of course they’re going to gravitate towards that if that’s the thing that gets some recognition within the company.
Right and so I feel like that’s one example that’s pretty common where companies have to be pretty intentional to also give recognition to the last Visible Changes and that includes management.

Christian Mccarrick:
[33:28] That’s right now that’s a good point you had to ready reward managers so for those managers the managers that would be a,
thing if you want to get to the director level your how do you what’s the accomplishments for the directors and I think it’s setting the rewards.
For the flashy thing might be releasing that that new version none flashy thing might like we had zero attrition or the last.
10 months right if you a happy right then and they want to work through the not on LinkedIn if it how do you reward that.

Jean Hsu:
[33:58] Ray yeah I feel like it’s so I think rewarding individually and one on ones or just acknowledging that.
Your appreciate someone’s work on something that’s pretty straightforward when you reward.
Publicly think that’s what kind of sets up a company’s culture and you have to be pretty careful about that cuz I’ve also seen you know I’ve heard of situations where.
Yeah someone is like I need to reward her and appreciate people more and they reward something that actually don’t know the full context of,
actually you know that person to credit for someone else’s where I can now they’re getting rewarded for it or they are getting rewarded for something and then they did that rather than all the things that committed to,
when when when you reward publicly I think it’s super important to make sure you have a context and that you know most people are are in agreement that it’s something that’s that’s worth.

Christian Mccarrick:
[34:53] And you mentioned something just now too I think that’s super important which is just acknowledgement.
Write that that the simple Act of acknowledging someone’s effort or work goes a huge way.
And one of the things I think that happens when people get or employees are dissatisfied is that that one I’m not nothing heard but to just not being acknowledged right.
And eats on you say that’s that’s probably you don’t have to that formally or just in the hallway you know what would have you found works best for acknowledging other people.

Jean Hsu:
[35:27] I think and I think anything is probably better than what’s happening now at most companies which is very low low levels of positive.
But yeah I think when you’re when you’re mad at the manager or even you know kind of executive-level.
It is really important in those things to do me or the smallest the smallest comment or emailed you know email thread comment can really mean a lot to people that just that you noticed that they did some.

Christian Mccarrick:
[35:56] Sure and we took Anaheim at night managers Year I’ll take some management additional Management training to one of the things I talked about from acknowledgement was also not just hated a good job.
Being specific in your novel acknowledgement but being specific in in the opposite to maybe with feedback.

Jean Hsu:
[36:16] Yeah this is this is something that it took me awhile to learn because I am not very good at receiving positive feedback and if it’s a cultural thing.
So when people say good job I feel like it’s almost like patronizing like pat on the head like a kid,
and so I try when I give positive feedback I really try to give a lot of contacts around it,
this is not even say good job but like hey appreciate that you did this this is why this is kind of impact that you may not realize it has on the team when you do something like this and.
Yeah rather than just the kind of good job type.

Christian Mccarrick:
[36:55] Did I think that goes such a long way that’s that’s pacifi city right so yeah that’s such a big thing acknowledgement General if you’re not acknowledging anyone nexstar and then being a specific as you can you know with with that but it sprays or feedback.

Jean Hsu:
[37:08] I think especially as you’re trying to get people to take initiative when they’re not taking initiative they really need to see that feedback loop for,
I’m to reinforce cuz they’re probably putting themselves out there you know if there if they’re bringing up an idea or they’re starting to work on something that they feel is important but they feel like,
I don’t know if I’m stepping on someone’s toes like is it okay if I don’t have permission to work on this I didn’t ask for permission.
You know if they get negative feedback they probably won’t do it again if they get positive feedback.
So probably be like wow oh I can do you know I can do this and then that models the behavior for other people to also do that as well.

Christian Mccarrick:
[37:44] Positive feedback loop and I didn’t instead of the more common negative ones and out then right and I think it’s important to as you mentioned to Natalie acknowledge the outcome but knowledge acknowledge the start of the initiative in the effort itself.

Jean Hsu:
[37:59] Yeah yeah and especially when you know how people are just starting off they yeah they might come up with not great ideas and if if they get shot down they made kind of you know generalize that did just coming up with ideas.
Getting shot down but so it’s.
Important to be very specific about you know why I really appreciate that you’re having an opinion about the product and I think that’s excellent but that you know that this is why this is not a priority right now.
And it kind of being specific about what are the areas that you want them to continue doing and.

Christian Mccarrick:
[38:33] And hopefully emulate and it’s one of the things you do to say whatever you doing public is going to be emulated right and is a manager.
You know your actions are going to show the team that that’s the appropriate we act right For Better or Worse.
And so that’s important you know in closing up in this to you you talk about one in one’s right so how would you coach a new manager to approach one-on-one so I could things to focus on what’s important besides having them.

Jean Hsu:
[39:06] That’s important frequently.

Christian Mccarrick:
[39:09] Yes yes.

Jean Hsu:
[39:10] Yeah I think so for it for one on ones I guess general advice.
Repeat it to it if me a lot of managers are also managing the work as well as the people which is I think particularly.
First-time managers so if that’s the case I I feel like it’s really important to separate out time when you’re talking about the work and time when you’re talking about.
Yeah the person and making sure that they have space to bring up topics and actually even better if the one on ones are just for that right and then the work comes in other other types of meetings.
I mean I always enter once I hate you know this year time what do you want to talk about today I mean of course I’ll have things prepared to because otherwise there like nothing.

Christian Mccarrick:
[39:52] What are you doing.

Jean Hsu:
[39:54] So the awkward but I mean sometimes it is just.
You know talking about what’s going on in there and their lives if there’s nothing urgent or there they don’t come up with topics.
I think it’s important to make time for that to write because that’s that’s actually strengthening the relationship and the trust that’s built up between a manager and a direct report and then.
You know when there is something that you need to give him feedback about or even it’s not just like I haven’t met with them for 3 months and,
probably going to be really bad you know it’s like knowing I meet with you every week and I know what’s going on outside of your life and I care about you and that’s why,
knowing what they want out of their time at a company is really important because then you can you know whatever it is that you,
want to give him feedback on or change their behavior you can align that with what they want as you can say like.
Yeah I know that you want to be a tech lead.
You’re doing great and these areas but this is this is sort of what’s holding you back and you know let’s figure out a plan to to help you work on this area so that you know in six months you’ll be set up to Tech lead a team.
Better than like hey I got some feedback you’re really bad.

Christian Mccarrick:
[41:14] Yeah that no that’s that’s good that doesn’t go over too well and it but I think that ties back into your whole concept of as the team’s growing scale knowing what they want to do as a manager you can help.

[41:27] If there’s tasks coming out for additional work or things you can help them,
hopefully it had a relationship and I trust and they can then come back and say with us I’m not really happy here I’m doing this and then you can preemptively steer them in a better erection cuz you know what they want to be with her is Tech lead,
God forbid if you peed engineering somewhere and someday I mean all important stuff right.
Across-the-board if you look out at the industry today what would you say are the top one or two things that as engineering leaders we need to improve.

Jean Hsu:
[42:03] I think developing the people in developing your own.
Engineering leaders developing their own leadership skills but then also modeling that for the next generation of engineering leaders I feel like we are moving from this.
I don’t know if it’s like a generational or maybe it’s people’s relationship to their work but.
People are going to be working for a longer and they’re going to be they’re going to have you know if they have family as they’re going to need both both parents or are you know they’re just going to need more money because it things are getting more and more expensive end.
I feel like you are looking for more meaning in their work.
And when you know people are looking for more meeting in their work they actually want to go somewhere where they feel happy and fulfilled rather than just you know.
Doing doing the job and saying oh yeah I work for 40 years and now I’m retired and now I can now I come with me because you are probably not going to be retiring when people used to be retiring so I feel like everyone kind of needs to step up the.
In focusing on on people’s happiness and fulfillment.

Christian Mccarrick:
[43:14] Okay okay in any additional resources that you think existing managers are new managers should look at whether it’s books.
Blogs and any events that you think are are worthwhile.

Jean Hsu:
[43:29] Make sure this one has been mentioned on your podcast Sephora but the managers path just came out a few months ago it’s excellent Gosser chronologically sort of the path.
A manager Beyond two of the books I really like one is called turn the ship around.
It’s about this Naval captain and nuclear submarine and how he kind of Switched the model of how the ship was run from a leader or follower model to a leader leader model very much on taking initiative and getting the team to.
To take initiative the crew and.
Any when I read that I was like well if this guy could do it for a nuclear submarine we certainly can do it for you no software.

Christian Mccarrick:
[44:15] Nazi I haven’t read that one so I’ll pick that one up and try to read my cell.

Jean Hsu:
[44:18] The other one that I would recommend is five dysfunctions of a team.
So it gets at the rude of you know the kind of Team Dynamics and how you really end up the most basic thing it has ass paramed model of the most basic thing that you need to have is the foundation of trust.
I think a lot of times managers and leaders try to focus on like the process and the work and they.
It’s hard because they don’t have that that level deep level of trust already built up.

Christian Mccarrick:
[44:50] So it starts back from the beginning and working in that trust which is such a huge part of I think a lot of things you write about is developing Trust.
Because it’s about relationships and people write any any last words Gene for the show to the to leave for the for the for the listeners.

Jean Hsu:
[45:04] I think so this is really fun.

Christian Mccarrick:
[45:06] Oh great I appreciate you coming on again thank you again for coming in person I don’t think I mentioned that but I really enjoy sort of the one-on-one in-person interactions on the show anyone else thinking to come on the show Absolutely you know drop me a line love to have you on as well,
and thank you very much and have a great day.