Humanizing the Interviewing Process with Emily Leathers

Emily LeathersEmily Leathers helps leaders, teams, and communities achieve big goals that make a difference. She’s lucky enough to hold two dream jobs at the same time: as a Director of Engineering at a small startup called Brigade, where she builds web and native apps to help voters make our elected representatives actually work for us, and as an engineering leadership coach and consultant, where she helps engineering leaders at all levels develop the skills, self-awareness, and vision they need to build high-performing, thriving teams.

In this episode we discuss having hard conversations, overcoming fear to grow as a technology leader and humanizing the interviewing process.


Contact Info:

Website / blog:

Twitter: @eleather

Show Notes:

Manager Tools Podcast

Coaching for Leaders Podcast

The Look and Sound of Leadership Podcast

Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well

The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever

The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People’s Lives Better, Too)

Engineering Leadership Slack

(Some of the timestamps might be slightly off in the transcript due to a small technical issue during recording.)

Read Full Transcript

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

Emily Leathers:
[0:07] Yeah thank you so much.

Christian Mccarrick:
[0:09] Absolutely and I know you’re actually coming into the studio today absolutely love that and thank you for taking the time from your day job and you know you have another Consulting thing on the side you’re doing coaching we’ll talk about that in a minute too but thank you for coming.

Emily Leathers:
[0:21] Sure thank you.

Christian Mccarrick:
[0:22] Absolute and as I do with all my guest and for my listeners that make your pretty familiar with this by now Emily want you start off a little bit of kind of how you got to be where you are today.

Emily Leathers:
[0:31] Awesome yes so I graduated from Carnegie Mellon with degrees in computer science and civil engineering actually always thought civil engineering was what I was going to do with my life and Foundations in Geotech just seems like the coolest thing ever.
I spent the first four years of my career too small startup call drop-leaf we were in attic and basically doing Big Data before I knew where we knew that was the term to call it.
I left there in 2012 to join an even smaller just under 10% startup called vote is in.
We’re working to fix democracy through improvements in voter engagement so basically apartment to vote and citizen for the name obviously meaningful and really fun in a presidential year.
End of that year we were acquired by a slightly larger startup called causes which focus more on philanthropy and issue advocacy.
We tried to combine those into the causes products but that one was about 7 years old and those users really knew what they were doing it when I joined it had 10 million monthly active users.
There really was a lot of fun momentum there so we ended up forming a new company in a new product Brigade out of that from the combined team that’s where I am now it’s been about 4 years and I’m still loving it.

Christian Mccarrick:
[1:46] Excellent excellent that was a lot of the kind of Politics on either side of the thing right now is must be an interesting time to be able to piece kind of supporting of that especially with more of the importance of that Grassroots effort is going on prey.

Emily Leathers:
[1:59] It is and for me one of the things that I love about Brigade is that it’s nonpartisan so.
I love all of the folks that I see you working on really important issues and pushing forward the things that matter most of them.
The thing that matters most to me is that all of those folks can do their work and have Fantastic Tools professional quality tools for citizen activist in organizers.

Christian Mccarrick:
[2:23] Sure that’s excellent and what’s your role in the game right now okay.

Emily Leathers:
[2:27] Guess who I’m a director of engineering basically I manager back in team are companies about 45 people engineering team as about 30.
And we’re broken down into five functional teams were Matrix e so I can have a 2d Matrix managers manage functional areas iOS Android web data Ops and back-end at 9.
Product managers and TPMS and Angela’s work together to manage feature teams and we’ve got three of those on the product side and one on the platform engineering side.

Christian Mccarrick:
[2:59] Okay and did you get your start in Engineering Management application or is it at one of your previous companies.

Emily Leathers:
[3:07] I think in the the form that most people would think of it being a real manager yeah every day leading up to it I had a lot of smaller pieces that included some that didn’t cluded people management along the way I did a ton of executional management.

[3:24] So I had a lot of two steps forwards maybe one step sideways in a weird Direction this.
What is so when I joined voters and we were really small team actually part way through the year I got.
I got jumped at party so.
Basically after I join photos and I picked in a bunch on execution and was eventually asked to step up as the lead and manager of the engineering team,
I remember being a little surprised because nearly everyone on that team had a b b e r c t o title in their background or.
Written a book on the technology we were hearing things and I was 26 years old the second youngest person on the team by a handful of months it meant I was now managing our CTO.

Christian Mccarrick:
[4:15] Which is an interesting Arrangement right.

Emily Leathers:
[4:18] It was really cool actually was a fantastic team and I loved every moment of that there was just a little like twisting my head was like you can do that I guess I can do that.
I remember the CEO saying I’ve already asked everyone on the team and they think it should be you which made a big difference to me.

Christian Mccarrick:
[4:33] Sure you going to head back to the bed that buying and Trust from the beginning.

Emily Leathers:
[4:37] Yeah and a lot of that came through that executional leadership and kind of already helping set up some projects and setting some examples for how we can leave things and keeping a team running smoothly.
When causes acquired that team they asked me to be part of the product team.
And that was new and different for me I’ve never done that I work for the product manager at that point for a little under your total ever and I kind of knew what the job was maybe.
Where did that for about a year in a quarter and it had some interesting iterations including at one point where my p.m. role was titled director of engineering.

Christian Mccarrick:
[5:12] Okay interesting.

Emily Leathers:
[5:14] And I reported his VP of engineering but I was pming your team working on data with an engineering.
When we formed for Gade I was initially offered a role of continuing to be the.
Head of a deeded department analyst it wasn’t fully spect out and I went well we’ll wait a second I’m an engineer I want to be an engineer this Johnson product has been great.
I learned a lot I have a much better appreciation for the people I’m working with and it’s not where I’m going long term a hard decision for me there was that if I move back to engineering I was going to be in ic.

Christian Mccarrick:
[5:49] Okay yeah.

Emily Leathers:
[5:50] And if I stayed on that data and products I’d I was going to be reporting to somebody who I knew really well who was a good friend of mine who had a great relationship with and was.
Also potentially going to be able to form a team.
And have folks who I could hire and bring in Far sooner than I potentially would on the engineering side it was a thing I did enjoy the taste of it had in the past and.
I’m really glad I stuck with the decision to do the thing that day today I loved and I have better instincts around but it was hard to say no to that at the moment not knowing when the next opportunity would be there.

Christian Mccarrick:
[6:26] I think that’s a very very good point and I’ve actually when I coach some.
Of my previous managers are Engineers directions to as they go on a career path as you mention your two steps forward maybe a step kind of to the side where sometimes too.
You may be the Hat title inflation at one roller something right and they were director somewhere and they get offered the manager tomorrow I’ll send you a little bit of that but I’m a director really and that you’re like no you’re not right it’s so taking a step back sometimes but looking at,
following up at your heart and your God like what do you really want to do and maybe.
You get in maybe 6 months or something or 9 months but what I found two is it tends to happen sooner than you think right.

Emily Leathers:
[7:03] It definitely did and it moved from that kind of icy roll 2.
And another executional leadership role working with a product manager is there a TPM in scrum Master working for that for a couple of different teams and then.
Taking a gun with most felt like a step backward we restructured the team a little bit and instead of being executional leadership I was now reporting to an engineering manager and the team lead for one of the teams.
Not doing the same kind of leadership and it really felt different to me but the Fantastic part of that was that I knew that manager really believed in me and we came into that relationship with a sense of hey I know where you want to go.
I want to get this team headed fully over to your this portion of my team had it over as soon as I can.

Christian Mccarrick:
[7:50] Area 2.

Emily Leathers:
[7:50] Kennedy 15 people reporting to him something like that it was too many.
And we got to work really quickly through that and then a few months later that kind of formal promotion came through and that was really exciting that’s actually the team I’ve been managing sense.

Christian Mccarrick:
[8:05] Ever since I think you make a good point to their.
Which is there is an open line of communication right and the expectation of you to your manager was clearly sad and I think that’s important for anyone listening out there to make sure that you’re having these conversations with with your boss your manager sing,
here’s the goals and here’s her want to get to.
Because a lot of times even as a manager for me I might not if you keep it inside I might not know that you had this desire to lead teams or be a manager or something else right so having that.
To a conversations always really important.

Emily Leathers:
[8:34] And what are the examples he said that I that I love and I want to figure out how I can follow was spinning off little pieces and actually.
Saying hey we’re working on getting a formal promotion through but in the meantime I want you to take this member of your team and do all of their professional development.
I’m good at finding things that that were normally what I would have wanted from that job in finding ways to send those over singer.

Christian Mccarrick:
[8:56] That is a manager that helps you delegate which is very important and scale somebody’s to kill yourself by giving some of those small pieces you have to you can just give them the vacuum right you kind of have to be there with that support that they can go back to you and you might have to.
Died in a little bit in it.

Emily Leathers:
[9:13] An event that I got to do that one off and really focus on it instead of trying to jump in and handle all of these new things at 1.

Christian Mccarrick:
[9:18] All the things and served during this whole process I mean what what were some of the ohmygod mistake moments that you’ve made as to the unfortunate employees that hopefully I forgiven you by now.

Emily Leathers:
[9:32] Oh man I think the biggest mistakes for me r.
Ones that they probably don’t sound as embarrassing other people that they’re super embarrassing to me I feel like the thing that I’m constantly pushing on everybody else is over communicate over-communicate you think you said it 17 times you probably need to say it another 30.
And it’s the moments where I didn’t over communicate enough and I let somebody feeling unsure or confused.
I think one of the one that’s really stuck with me for a while since it happened was.
When every so often because we’re in that Matrix format we move.
Which most people stay with their functional team and with their manager but we move who works on different feature teams in things like that,
news about considerations that starts over a long time and one of the things that happens along the way as we like the lead roles on those to be things that we rotate people through so everybody got to experience.
And depending on the different projects on different teams we need different expertise on different teams as well as going to shaken up who got the chance to work really tightly paired with other people over time.
And one of those transition moment I didn’t do a good enough job I learned later.
Explaining to one of my team members why a shift was happening on that team and I realized later that well I thought I’d explained it up front and maybe I’d said it.

Christian Mccarrick:
[10:59] Sure.

Emily Leathers:
[11:01] I wanted this person to move to a different team because I really needed to count on the skill that they had.
To push that project forward and do something that was really important from the perspective of the team and as well as our teams relationship with other teams.
And I thought maybe really well suited to it and instead it came across for the handful of weeks until I was able to go to catch on to this interpretation and then we are able to really sit in and fix it as that.
Not doing a good enough job or are not fully succeeding in the previous roll and being switched out of it instead of kind of being promoted forward to something that fell sideways.

Christian Mccarrick:
[11:38] Sure yeah I mean a complete miss maxidex mix match and expectations you were trying to put them because you really trusted them and they thought failing.

Emily Leathers:
[11:49] And that was just one of those like oh no what have I done.

Christian Mccarrick:
[11:55] Yeah and that site that’s really that that that is true I think really you say something someone says nods yes but really circling back and whether it’s in that conversation like doing a replay or.
Yeah couple days later week later so walking through your decisions on things I think in your thing in your thought process is a huge thing for people to do right totally out of totally agree with that as well.
The you have managers underneath Union right now so you moved from Icy to managers know just Direct.

Emily Leathers:
[12:27] So just relax with the exception of only have interns on the team and then. Drexel Drive Wilmington.

Christian Mccarrick:
[12:33] Manage the internet’s but we should have another podcast about interns right cuz I think I have an awesome episode 2 so let’s Circle back on that later.

Emily Leathers:
[12:39] Pictures are so good for your team.

Christian Mccarrick:
[12:41] They are recruiting Saturday and everything that we can definitely talk about that later in some of the things I was worried about you you’ve mentioned that you see managers is some of the most influential relationships in a person’s day today okay,
describe that a little bit how do you what do you mean by that.

Emily Leathers:
[12:56] Yeah so most people spend between 1/3 and half of their waking hours at work and your immediate manager sets a ton of the tone for that time they have the biggest impact on.
How your team Excel functions how people are expected to interact with each other that’s the person you get most of your feedback filter through and that’s the person who.
Is most responsible for helping you understand your place in the company.
Books from a girl’s perspective and from what work you’re doing I also love I think it’s more person for miniature tools when he’s talking about compensation and how much that matters will say to paraphrase weekly that managers.
Control our director 4th addiction to food shelter and clothing.
And have always keeping in my head that sense that.

[13:47] The number of times maybe you gone home is it today was rough I had this conversation and it was just hard.
And how much that bleeds over into the rest of your day and that you know I’m not figure for a lot of people on my team you know the terrible thing my manager did today or I got the best compliment and all those pieces.

Christian Mccarrick:
[14:07] That’s right and which is which is important I thinking about how are you going to these organizations not only is your direct manager having an impact but the higher you go there’s that increase multiplier effect of not only what you say and how it’s perceived but the strength behind how it’s perceived right.

Emily Leathers:
[14:22] Absolutely one of the things so the team’s I’ve worked on have been agile teams in various formats.
And one of the things that really valued there is flexibility and the ability to adjust and so for me this is going to sound backwards but one of the things I value most is trying to provide consistency.
Because there’s only in my mind only so much uncertainty that anyone human brain can really handle and and work within and the more.
I can make sure that folks are comfortable and confident and understand what’s going on around them the more we can react to the things and be flexible for the things that we need to be flexible to like Market opportunities and product roadmap and pick up some projects.
Keep your one-on-ones on a constant schedule every time you can.
I like to ask the same questions in them every time I can think it was Bethany was on here while ago and just said looks like the same question they never say a why did my manager phrase it like that.
Yes that’s the book that explains why do that that makes so much sense.
Basically as a manager if I have really clear principles for how I manage and a Clear Vision for my team and not like mental health sell the subway in his personal management skills to act on those consistently I can create that environment where each person has the clarity they need to do excellent work.
And where the things I’m supposed to do are invisible so my team can actually focus on their work.
I’m really winning in a day maybe I can pass along some of those tools or some of those lessons I’ve learned over time help somebody else bootstrap past them.

Christian Mccarrick:
[15:49] Is it though absolutely and I think I’m going to pause one second okay I’m just stopping something and reach starting something.
I think you’ve also stated that you really kind of do everything you can to improve yourself as a leader and a manager,
rights and I think you know if you could go through a little bit of how you work on self-improvement yourself right because I think that’s a very good,
advice for other matters out there for tips are tools that they could use to improve themselves as well so what’s your server framework for trying to continually improve yourself as a manager and a leader.

Emily Leathers:
[16:40] I get away.

Christian Mccarrick:
[16:41] At your curb.

Emily Leathers:
[17:00] So I think for me a lot of that comes from.
Taking moments as often as I can to pause and separate out.
What I see going on around me objectively as much as I can from how I’m interpreting it and how I’m reacting as a result.
Or hopefully how I’m acting.

Christian Mccarrick:
[17:22] Sure sure.

Emily Leathers:
[17:23] As a result if I’m able to separate those in the moment.

[17:29] And then looking and saying hey where did I not have what I needed to really.
Show up the way I wanted in that moment or to get the result that I that I needed for my team or the result that I needed from someone on my team what would I have needed to do differently in order to make that happen.
And then man I’m for Regis on books and podcast and to a lesser extent articles.
And that will definitely turn into a wish I understood more about how to measure results great but we got the 4 disciplines of execution every copies like two other books and it’s going to be great like that’s my next week and a half of listening.

Christian Mccarrick:
[18:06] And what did I see how do you decide I think what kind of as a manager.
How do you gather this feedback right to know,
whether you are performing up to say is standard that you want to be performing or not right is that just kind of self-evaluation or you actually look out and solicit that feedback either passively or actively.

Emily Leathers:
[18:29] That is really uncomfortable right because I think no matter what the hardest part of it is actually being able to look in the face whatever it is you learn however you learn it.
So resources I like to use ask my manager our company uses a development check-in format,
where each employee in their manager or supposed to talk once a month and not has ongoing performance feedback aspects and also can have longer-term planning and short-term goal setting up specs.
But even then.

[19:08] It can be really hard to get that sense of where do I stand objectively am I am I ahead of the curve I always want to be ahead of the curve that’s me if I’m not ahead of failing.
Trying to break that mindset at taking a really long time and I know it’s not super healthy and talk.
Talking with my manager and explicitly saying you know where do I stand against.

[19:36] What you’d expect from this next role we’re looking at in this area I could have asking specifics otherwise or sending an email out of time and saying the next time we meet some pieces I want feedback from you on our.
I tend to get much better feedback by asking ahead of time.

Christian Mccarrick:
[19:53] Pacific good point yeah kind of myself as a manager if you ask me on the spot like I should have asked you you might well.
After the meeting you might think I should have said that or should have told her that,
rights and I think that’s a very good point for for some listen to stay home if you kind of want some feedback when you want to talk about something you’re one of your Wonder one’s kind of give that question to your manager before hand so they had some time to think and John Oates,
which hopefully leads to a little bit more of a 1500 and honest and fulfilling conversation.

Emily Leathers:
[20:23] Yeah the other piece that I always find it really important is to separate in my head everything I hear from somebody else is.
Their perception.
And I may not even be understanding it right that difference between with somebody is trying to say what comes out of their mouth and how I hear it so that all of that is a perception and.
Even if the weight are speaking of kind of ascribing intent to it it’s up to me to kind of hold that.

[20:54] Basically to look here that has a wrapped up thing that that I can.
Receive this gift box from somebody which is which is the implicit or explicit feedback they have given me,
I can choose when I want to unwrap that I can you notice it and say thank you and file it away and come back to it later and not act on it.
There was this huge Revelation for me a few years ago when I realized I could not act on a piece of feedback somebody had given me.
Maybe other people just you know from birth knew that somehow that slipped from my brain.

Christian Mccarrick:
[21:25] You have to jump on it right that second.

Emily Leathers:
[21:26] Oh my gosh I mean is just it was just so freeing to realize that even if it was right I could choose to not act on.
And just because they said it didn’t mean it was right.

Christian Mccarrick:
[21:37] Correct right or that it was something that had to be better at that apply to right now right because they give you back that doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things now but a year from now. I’m doing a different role with the contact the different maybe maybe I will take that into account.

Emily Leathers:
[21:51] I actually I love to keep I have one folder in my personal docs that just has all of my 360 and performance reviews and things like that and I like to go back and read them every so often and just see if I’ve gained you perspective on any of those things or if any of those are.
Recurring habits that are showing up now in a different format that that’s still hurting me but in a different way.

[22:12] One of the books that I really loved overtime that kind of long-term favorite is thanks for the feedback from Sheila and Doug Stone and.
One of the most impactful pieces in there for me with the three types of feedback that there’s coaching appreciation coaching and evaluation and that all coaching has some implicit evaluation.
But that it’s really important to hear explicit evaluation so one of the things I try to do for everybody on my team during those monthly check-ins is to start by just saying hey this is a.
You know this was an off month this was a solid month this was an exceptional month and that set of freezing.
Billy comes I think Kim Scott from from radical Candor going to put that forward and I love the way that it talks about the time. Instead of the person.
And it makes the assumption that like everybody has some points that are off and most want they’re not exceptional.

Christian Mccarrick:
[23:10] Yeah that’s a great point right it’s reframing it from you to maybe an action by you and the same thing is that you’re taking it off of being that person to put into time. Right that’s really awesome things to say to we all have down days weeks,
hopefully not too many months which.

Emily Leathers:
[23:28] I have this metaphor that I owe I got so much use out of which is basically if a rubber band and if you think of those rubber bands from like asparagus or broccoli for super thick and you don’t trust very much.
And if you put your fingers in it and you can have hold one sale and you try to walk the other one out the first couple times you kind of take those little steps forward.
It’s pretty cheap you can take a pretty big step for very little effort and then you kind of reach a point where it takes a lot of effort to get even a tiny bit of movement and.
I think almost everything that we do in our lives hit that parallel in some way and one of the best things that you can do.
For yourself or for anybody else or for a team is to move that Anchor Point.
And that can come from hearing somebody say you’re on the right track. Can come when you get code review and you or you are design review and you have more certainty about the approach that you’re choosing,
it can come from your manager saying hey that was a great way to do that presentation now I’m more confident presentation.
You all of however how can you move that anchor forward to a place where you can try new things and grow with less cost again.

Christian Mccarrick:
[24:30] Sure that’s a great analogy metaphor speaking the word coaching there in that thing and we can,
transition to talk a little bit to another Endeavor that you’re doing right now and you’ve recently I started a coaching practice if your own correct.

Emily Leathers:
[24:47] Yeah so.
He’s not coaching practice I work with engineering managers basically to achieve big goals that make a real difference for them or 13s.
We start by setting up a vision for them as a leader and for their career setting a vision for the team and then building habits the leader needs to execute those Visions daily not as something that.
You think about once a quarter or you rush to do like right before quarterly goals are due and oh man I have to get all these measurements.

Christian Mccarrick:
[25:22] Or you review for a right before that.

Emily Leathers:
[25:24] And it’s not just a thought an ineffective way to produce a goal it’s that most of the things that matter are what we do everyday consistently and how do we take be.
The person we want to be in x amount of time how do we take the environment more like rate for a team and turn that into daily practices that reinforce those things and pushes forward rather than steps we take when we can carve out in time.

Christian Mccarrick:
[25:49] Until posing for me tutus for anyone in here is in the background at my office studio is right on the border of Chinatown it is Chinese new year so use your fireworks and and drum beats in the background right we don’t have,
it’s out of my office but it is a server they call it and there’s two in there goes the fireworks,
right so I’m sure the microphones with picking up some of it we can hear it very discreetly in our office now so that’s what it is I’m not a war zone or anything,
back to kind of begin the coaching and the Frameworks that you’re providing for for these people.

Emily Leathers:
[26:25] Yeah no worries so.
Once we kind of have that sense of where where somebody’s trying to go and where they’re trying to get themselves and their team really working through on an ongoing basis the obstacles that come up.
Doing a ton of work around procrastination around helping folks stop backing down from hard conversations.
And especially around digging into those important things that always seem to slip and just finally sitting down and getting it done fighting through that I don’t know how to get started.
Fighting through the weird.
Well I want this end result and I have no idea what it’s going to take to get there an app for getting that plan and then being able to really like line it up so that it’s executing and just making that happen day after day.
On the mentorship and Consulting side I love working with leaders around designing hiring process these that identify and land the right new hires and we’ll talk about some of that later.

Christian Mccarrick:
[27:22] Sure.

Emily Leathers:
[27:24] And around executional processes of a team as if I’ve done a ton of executional leadership I just have Indians and it’s fun and then around creating performance reviews that Inspire and motivate.
Because because they’re great so for folks who are interested in working together one of the places to find me is at Great enough. Me checking out the work with me page.
The primary ways that I work with folks adjust bi-weekly when our coaching sessions.
And that’s kind of a mix of coaching taking a challenge somebody’s facing and just holding the space and getting some perspective and deciding how to approach it.
Mixing out with mentorship being a soundboard being somewhere outside your company you can vent.
Depending on what works one of the things I love about doing that alongside a full-time job managing is that ability to kind of mix how to think through a problem and bringing some resources to the table that might help. To a solution.

Christian Mccarrick:
[28:18] Sure and I kind of just take a step backwards gun what what was the Genesis of this right, he looked around and.
You said hey we’re there’s a dearth of right way or in a bad place within the area manager Malaysia right now how did you get into the hey I want to do this I want to improve on to make things better.

Emily Leathers:
[28:38] That’s a great question I think one day I was just like oh I could do that like I could do that I.

[28:48] I think the most satisfying thing I can think of is seeing that light in somebody else’s eyes when they figure something out and especially when what they’re figuring out is.
This could have shift in how you’re thinking about something or you came up with a new sentence or new way to talk to yourself that let you just blow past whatever it was that was holding you back from that cool thing you’ve been trying to do this is my life.
The great opportunity like sitting focus on on creating those kind of moments.
And I realized how much I I love having those conversations with people on my team with other people that work with friends of mine who are in various management roles.
And then I also really love the executive coach I worked with a few years ago and when my husband got home and I mean people just do this for a living.

Christian Mccarrick:
[29:42] Yeah.

Emily Leathers:
[29:43] And at some point I’d like wait I could do that for a living.
I’m super happy with the Knicks that I have right now actually being able to be an engineering manager all the all day and doing the work that I’m doing a brigade and the biggest thing for that is.
This piece in my head is equipping individuals teams and communities with the tools that they need to make their lives really work for for them.
And as I mentioned before I get to do a lot of that at Brigade around helping helping voters make our government actually work for us.
And making a bigger systemic changes that need to happen and then on the coaching side I got to work with.
Managers to help their teams and we talked about a lot of the multiplier effects of that before and that’s really satisfying as well as help people just find.
Really effective tools they might not have got it might not have gotten exposed to yet to be able to.

[30:50] Plan out goals that are actually exciting and maybe a lot more than you think you can get to and then knock those out and about.

Christian Mccarrick:
[30:57] And I think you make a good point to in that so you’re doing this coaching but you’re you’re still out to see it and injuring leader at grade.
And I think that allows you to not get too far away Fred from there this context of what you’re trying to coach about it started to complain some people have when they become engineering leaders and they’re so far out of the code anymore they might be out of touch I bring your case.
You’re still having your own struggles and seeing the day today of what being a manager in a in a company is like while you’re trying to help other people.
Yeah so what is your in your coaching practice in what you see.
What are some of the most common things you see that engineering leaders or managers are struggling with today.

Emily Leathers:
[31:38] So calling out a a couple from the beginning of folks careers because I think.

[31:45] I’m calling it a handful of pieces that I think hurt engineering managers throughout their careers and I wish.
Maybe somebody just like handed me a handbook early on and that like these are the things that you need to remember one of those management is.
I keep hearing a lot of waiting around right now that’s a lateral transition basically it’s an entirely new cells that for me right.

Christian Mccarrick:
[32:13] It’s a new job.

Emily Leathers:
[32:14] Your beginner you’re going to need a lot of new skills and way more than you’re basically starting from zero this is super scary and pretty awkward.
If you’re a beginner and it’s a new hobby and you’re sitting in your living room and like this is fun it’s a little awkward you’re not good at it yet but it’s basically enjoyable if you’re a beginner.
When you’re used to being really good at your job.
If you’re a beginner in public in front of people that you want to respect you where your mistakes are outcomes for the people you manage who you care deeply about potentially are your friends.
You worked with for years and they expect a certain standard from you,
you assume and maybe you’re not doing that right now man really uncomfortable and.
I think one of the most important pieces is just always keeping in your mind that your primary job right now is to face that discomfort.
Lean into it as hard as you can and pick up whatever new skills and habits you need as quickly as you can manage so that you can serve your team and keep serving them whatever challenge comes up and.
However you need to grow to help your team grow to me.

Christian Mccarrick:
[33:26] Sure I’m not in my head but you can’t see your other listeners at their but it’s true and that that was supposed to sink like I really like that just kind of that analogy of Imagine going.
You never play guitar the piano and your ass to pick it up in front of a concert hall Philip people and suddenly that can you play something and just that kind of that.
No I really can’t but I’m expected to in just a feeling you have it is really true I think for like people at this kind of terrifying always right.

Emily Leathers:
[33:53] And I think it’s really hard because if I’m a back-end engineer and I want to learn some iOS I can go home at night and play around with it and I think as engineer’s we have this belief about ourselves that we’re good at learning new things.
And we’re good at picking things up but picking things up when you have to win in order to do that skill you have to be interacting with somebody else to do it.
It has a different like really emotional experience to it then when you can go home and work on a side project and take that off in the first time anybody sees anything from you you know your intro project on GitHub might be your third iOS project.

Christian Mccarrick:
[34:28] Yeah that’s right yeah and I think that that’s that’s that’s so right now that’s stealing and I think it’s important to for new managers or managers who are struggling to understand that.
Don’t eat if we all go through this and don’t pretend that you have the answer right because I think that’ll lead to some to a non positive outcome right get a coach.
I go to some of these trainings ask your manager try to get the resources you had and actually be open with your your team too and say hey I don’t have any all the answers you know I’m going to help you the best as I can and I think as long as you have that honest communication and be transparent with your manager.
Who put you there because they believe in you and your team but I think that’s probably a good prose to God that is well.

Emily Leathers:
[35:09] And that mine’s that’s really important to remember because you’re going to have that same step again moving from a manager to a manager of managers.

Christian Mccarrick:
[35:16] Absolutely absolute.

Emily Leathers:
[35:17] Totally different jobs moving to a doctor moving to a vpe moving to in with me back it is roll each of those is an entirely separate skillset and a new way of thinking about the things that you’re already doing.
If you’re not comfortable just going back to basically zero and figuring it out again if it be much harder to make those transitions in a way that you can really.

[35:41] Really I have your team’s back the way they need you to throughout those moments.

Christian Mccarrick:
[35:47] What are the other items you talked about a little bit a while ago was the concept of hard conversations,
okay and I find through a lot of the gas it up out on that a lot of their mistakes if they’ve made early on their careers has been,
you don’t not having a hard conversation early enough or not making that change early enough because it involves something uncomfortable right,
how do you in what are some of your tips that you give some of your new coach to embracing those those hard conversations or whatever maybe earlier on.

Emily Leathers:
[36:19] For me it’s all about understanding how my brain works and how.
Rains in humans in general work basically there hasn’t been that much of Aleutian on them since we were out on a big Prairie hunting things the Spears and my brains.
Most important priority for me is that I sit safely at home on my couch eating potato chips.

Christian Mccarrick:
[36:41] That’s that’s the default Factor.

Emily Leathers:
[36:44] Oh yeah really wants this because anything that scary or anything that has any risk.
Is basically acquainted with if you go out and you do something risky.
When are when are brains in most of the Revolution risky equated to life threatening.
You know I get off my couch and I go to this thing in like a lion is going to come get me and it’s going to eat me which might have made sense you know however many you know thousands of years ago.
It doesn’t it’s still the way my brain works right.
Oh man I have to tell this person that the way they phrase that really insulted somebody I’m going to die.

Christian Mccarrick:
[37:31] I’m going to throw up.

Emily Leathers:
[37:33] Play my greatest thing they’re being like nope like if you do this it might make that person not like you and then you’re going to die alone like tomorrow.
The problem is how quickly like of course that’s not what I’m actually thinking but all of the defense mechanisms of like no don’t do that are kicking in in that same way.
And for me as it’s that ability to stop and say okay I know my brain is going to tell me that I shouldn’t do this thing I also know the only way to grow the only way to reach my goals.
Is through discomfort because if you’re growing it will feel uncomfortable and then that that’s going to mean that every time I try to do something I don’t already know how to do.

[38:16] My brain is going to come up with all of these reasons why I shouldn’t do it and I just need to be able to do it anyway.
And a handful of those reasons will be valid if you’re looking both ways before you cross the street out for the car cool. As a new experience I don’t need.
But if I want different results than the ones that I have right now in the job that I have right now then the.
Social calendar I have right now than the amount of stress I have right now I need to take different actions and if I want to take different actions I need to be able to.
Think different things that will allow me to take those actions and so another step of that is saying.
Okay she was the end result that I want this is what I have to do to get there this is the sentence my brain is telling me that that says that that’s not a thing I should do it’s it’s super risky if I get up on that stage people might laugh at me.
An embarrassment of totally thing you die from.

Christian Mccarrick:
[39:16] Feels like it.

Emily Leathers:
[39:17] And you know it and how can I buy them from you or the biggest go to figure out how to reframe and reframe that in a way that says.
If I want to be a speaker if I want to be able to travel the world and speak at large events.
I need to be okay getting up in front of my company of 45 people and talking about something that I’ve been working on for 6 months but I know inside now.
Around people who care about me and want me to succeed and are not there to write reviews about my performance or decide if they’re going to hire me based on this.

Christian Mccarrick:
[39:53] Yeah that’s definitely a head start there right and it gets in the whole growth mindset concept to right where you are today is not fixed.
And how you got there no I think one of the other items that.
Is a challenge lot of managers as well and I just remembered you would have been companies is around you know hiring okay and.
Kind of that whole other gas on it at various points and we’ve talked about different things is hiring but I think it’s such an important topic,
and there’s so many different facets of that right from the time you’re posting an ad or looking for a referral,
to the time they are sitting in their chair and then you know a week or two later or months later and how that relationship continues so let me just for you as you look about this process and interviewing I think it’s is a big part of that right and,
really trying to kind of human eyes that interviewing process right.
In your words today like how how how would you describe the interviewing process today at companies and then we can get into a little bit about you know what what you think and how can be improved.

Emily Leathers:
[40:56] I think a lot of the words that we use around interviewing and the prophecies tell that story it’s a funnel it’s a pipeline it’s.

Christian Mccarrick:
[41:04] Going to close that person or deal.

Emily Leathers:
[41:08] Right like we’re we’re speaking about this is something that.
Is a process rather than a relationship we’re engaging in with another human being.
For me I think treating your candidates like they’re human beings.
It helps you higher faster you set them up for success in your interview you make it more likely they’ll accept an offer I love the way when I when I talked about some of these things with a connection Greg Hall he phrased.
As the interview process is inherently weighted against the candidate and they need someone to balance.
We tend to set up our interviews as what’s convenient for the company what’s convenient for the recruiter what laws of to get the largest volume we.
Miss the fact that our entire interview process is a cell.
And make a decision based on every type point I had with us not just that thing that happens in the 30 minutes after we give the offer where we pitch them on why they should join sleep only sort of relevant.

Christian Mccarrick:
[42:10] You’ve Won or lost before that for the most part.

Emily Leathers:
[42:12] The most part yeah if you have a chance to make a Savory you have a chance to really mess it up there but it’s the sum total of everything you’ve experienced you know if if you’ve written stories before show don’t tell.
And the fact that.
My job are the hiring manager is to put the highest quality new team member I can on my team the person who will best.
Still what my team needs from that roll right now using is a little of the companies time and money and other resources as possible.
And really the three things I focus on around letting me do that again it’s always a cell portion setting the candidate out for success.
And then knowing exactly the one roll I need the tire to play on my team.
And Lexie not without distraction not thinking of what I saw this cool person and if we brought them I could do this and this and that I have a job I need it filled in a specific way.
And if I really crafted my processor I need to stick with it now if I get new information and it lets me see you but time till New different Vision that I didn’t think was possible that’s great.
But then I need to stop and make out as an intentional choice.

Christian Mccarrick:
[43:22] Sure know if you’re talking to a manager right now maybe in your in your coaching practice or even you know what.
How would you coach eat that manager kind of through each of those three things right you know end and walking through some tips they might have to help improve,
their process remember they’re not the CEO probably they’re not the CTO they can’t drive everything from the top but what can I do what are some tangible things it an actual individual manager or maybe director could do to improve his princess.

Emily Leathers:
[43:52] Yeah I think the most important mindset is realizing that at the end of the day this higher is going to be your responsibility.
And so you need to find someone who you really honestly think.
Will succeed with flying colors at your company and in this role and will knock out of the park the things that that rule needs to accomplish for the company.
And every company has a different balance between what a recruiting or Staffing team might do and what hiring managers generally do.
We have pretty small recruiting and talking to him for a lot of open poles at Brigade and so I really have the opportunity to work closely with them and take a lot of those pieces on myself and own a lot of that relationship.

[44:42] I think at companies where Staffing does a lot more of it up front that’s okay but make sure you’re really working closely with them and that you are volunteering in your help and you know don’t don’t throw the process of the window but.
Don’t sit back and let somebody else do the work for you either.

[45:03] When the pieces I’ve been focusing the most on is how I can make an on-site interview that really hits those three pieces.

Christian Mccarrick:
[45:10] Okay and what are some of the things that you would recommend that cinnamon urge control to improve that on-site interview process.

Emily Leathers:
[45:17] Yes so one of my biggest goals throughout the day in terms of setting a candidate up for success in terms of making sure I’m seeing the skills I need in order to decide if this person fits that one thing I need for my team.
And in terms of making them feel comfortable and welcome is reducing uncertainty throughout the day.
So one of the first places I start with that is by having a printed agenda that I have them.
If you go check out my blog as an example and a Google template that folks are welcome to just copying and repurpose if you want I’m pretty I’m not a graphic designer but some aspects I think you’re important.
One of them is if you look at the names are first names are in huge font.
I want to spend it out sitting in front of a candidate in a way that they can glance down and look up and remember Joe’s name Aura mods name.
Without it looking like they forgot sure the interviewer probably knows what plausible deniability.

Christian Mccarrick:
[46:20] The nervous center thing else.

Emily Leathers:
[46:23] Yeah so having that printed agenda the moment a candidate gets to pick up on site actually called them in 15 minutes earlier.
Then the interview begins there’s two reasons for that one I want to introduce them to the office I want to introduce them to the interview process to only give him a little buffer.
Public transit to Soma it’s not super reliable.
And night certainly neither is graphic and if a candidate running 5 minutes late to their first interview and their interviewer knows that.
I think it really changes the color of some of it.

Christian Mccarrick:
[46:57] Sure yeah.

Emily Leathers:
[46:58] And I like giving a little bit of that buffer just for the candidate kind of unwind and and just in case I do an intro to the office.
And then we sit and we talk a little bit about the day itself and what’s going to happen there are a handful of really specific pieces that I like to cover during that.
One of those is basically giving the candidate the answer key to the day.
I’m not going to tell him what questions are asking the answers to those questions but I do want to tell them about the skill or capability we most need them to demonstrate during the day.
Super my team it’s been about how candidates make decisions.
Show me sit down and tell them hey before we get started I wanted to share a little more information about what we’re looking for during today’s interviews basically the biggest thing our interviews are looking for overall is how you make a decision.
So do you recognize a decision point when you’re at it do you call that out can you come up with multiple options.
Do you talk about the trade-offs between those options and you talk about those trade-offs without being prompted can you make a choice and move forward with it.
And can you do that even when there isn’t one option that’s obviously better than the others or all of them have some pretty serious products and.
Alvin tell candidates I know that last part Probably sounds silly definitely seen candidates who have trouble choosing just one option and moving forward with it and you know that really pose a challenge for them.

Christian Mccarrick:
[48:28] Sure I think it definite good requirement for lots of teams and companies where a lot of cases A or B is probably irrelevant 6 months down the road but making the choice Avery now is much more important.

Emily Leathers:
[48:42] Exactly and I give the candy to see upfront I want candidates to do well in her interview right false negatives a candidate who would have been awesome and just doesn’t show with the things that we need.
They’re terrible from the company’s perspective I’ve spent a bunch of time a bunch of interviewer time potentially flying somebody out we could have hired this person they could have performed great and we missed it.
Total waste of everybody’s time I want to minimize those as much as I can wear small Team interview had a huge opportunity cost.
I don’t see a reason to hide what matters to us especially if being upfront about it reduces those false negatives first of all I’m not looking for team members to read minds.
I want people who listen really well to find out what’s needed in a given situation and then follow through successfully on doing the thing they were asked to do and I can do that in a matter of perspective as well by telling them what matters to us and seeing if they follow through.
I’m reducing the uncertainty for them they can lead to that nervousness and reduced performance by just saying hey this is what I’m looking for and I’ll give them an opportunity to show me that.
Second image saying no so much easier part of giving us exclamation came out of a lot of debris sir Leon Ware.
Interviewers would talk about.
Well maybe we sent the wrong message about what we wanted the candidate to do or things like that if I’m priming them up front tell us about your decision making process.
Tell us how you do this and I still can’t demonstrate it either I know that’s something that might be a challenge for them or this was just up bad interview and you know.

[50:23] Sometimes that happens it’s frustrating for everybody I’m sure but.

Christian Mccarrick:
[50:27] How do you.
Should have gone to this whole day and I’ve noticed a similar problem is to suddenly there it’s like they’re there left of the door and then they lie like what’s that that last step that process hey there leaving,
what are you doing about setting expectations for what’s next to you know how do you how do you talk to them about that.

Emily Leathers:
[50:48] Yes so my interview day is are generally set up so that the manager interview which I sometimes called manager interviews and I’m still working everyday. I don’t know names are hard.
Is the last thing on that calendar.
And I usually walk the candidate out afterwards unless there is a friend on site who’s a referral and I know they might want to catch up with the end of the day,
and so only usually wrap it up by saying okay that’s all the questions I have for you anything else you have for me they’ve usually been asking me questions for a while so you know you could have reached that natural wrap up.
And then I’ll say Okay a couple logistical pieces.
Interview decisions are really big decisions on both sides that usually takes us a couple days to get back to candidates we want to make sure that you know we’re really.
It when we bring somebody on there a fantastic fit for us.
Please let us know I don’t know what your interview calendar looks like I don’t know what else is going on what your time line is but.
You know is if there’s something that comes up and you really need us to get back to you sooner please reach out.
We want to make sure we’re making the right decisions on our side but we also don’t want to miss out on somebody who’s fantastic just because we didn’t know there was a timeline conflicts coming out for you.
You should expect to hear from us within 48 to 72 hours if you don’t please feel free to get back in touch you know.
Probably means something went sideways on our side and we don’t want to miss out on that and then I usually Prime candidates there.

[52:22] I’m sure they’re you know folks in leadership who would tell you never to do this but I kinda want to Prime candidates but it’s okay to ask for things during the offer process and I lost it up by saying you know and.
Oh wait now I want to cut that part because we do that.

Christian Mccarrick:
[52:41] Oak sign that’s fine and through this process because you can’t see,
Emily is doing a really good job Super Bowl playing here I kind of felt like I was a candidate that she was walking out the door there for a second I almost as I qualify it is there an offer coming you did a good job.

Emily Leathers:
[52:56] One of the other pieces all due at the end and I find most candidates kinda don’t care and it keeps you look really grateful is just saying hey you know how how to get where you’re going from here.
A lot of our candidates are local for somebody who’s not I always want to make sure I ask getting lost on the way home from an interview it’s just a terrible ending to a really nerve-racking.

Christian Mccarrick:
[53:16] Yes. Good as a follow-up for that done now so they’ve left in this is where I hear some of the biggest complaints about the interviewing process.
Silence they never got back to me they suck or I must suck because I didn’t did no one talked to me in 2 days and now I must have done awful,
they hate me I’m never going to get another job X Y and Z how do you guys follow up with that to keep that humanizing process going.

Emily Leathers:
[53:44] Yeah it’s so.
First of all if those are the kind of questions that you have in your listen to this go look up manager tools they literally have a couple hour-long podcast or no he never runs at 2 an hour.
Maybe it’s in our content over a couple of podcast on how to keep that relationship going really explicit pieces on how to decline people really explicit pieces on if you’re taking a while to make a decision,
some companies allow the companies I’ve been at just have you we can make rolling offers sometimes you have to interview a couple candidates and decide between them information on how to connect keep in touch with somebody.

Christian Mccarrick:
[54:19] Okay and I’ll put those in the show notes to out at some of the great podcast. Therefore for managers not to suffer during the leaders but nothing matters in general and that’s a very good one.

Emily Leathers:
[54:28] The biggest pieces that I picked up from that stay in touch every 72 hours no matter what.
It’s okay to leave good news in a voicemail it’s okay to leave good news in an email.
And be careful really stop and think about the experience if you’re having to tell somebody know.
And again they are really great explicit pieces about it but that might be the one time when it’s okay to lie some of your voicemail and decline them because you really do want to play phone tag.
With them only to the car and then when you finally get them on the phone but if you do send a voice mail follow up with an email I don’t know about you guys but I don’t check my voicemail as often as I should or I’ll see you there and then I’ll call him back and send.

Christian Mccarrick:
[55:11] Exactly okay great any other kind of topics and things that you will kind of get across to kind of the listeners out there today that you think might be important on their kind of Journey of of of the Engineering Management leadership path.

Emily Leathers:
[55:27] Oh that’s a great question.
I think one of the most important pieces for me around bringing Kennedy it’s on is being really honest. Doesn’t mean vent to the candidate and tell them your pet peeves for the clear about that.
I have this thing in my head that I tagged as eat dysfunction speech but I like to also give candidates usually kind of during my manager interview,
when I ask them if they have questions for me which is the every group every team every family,
has things that are really good at how’s things that are actively working to improve and has things that maybe they’re not great on it but also aren’t intended to focus on in the near future.
Every person has things that.

[56:16] You are time just pet peeves A Nails on chalkboard it doesn’t matter how much it’s there it’s going to just get under your skin you can work through and has things that you honestly wouldn’t notice if someone pointed out repeatedly.
And all of those are normal and fine and it one of the things I really want when I’m looking for somebody on our team is to know that.
We kind of have the right match of pet peeves and things were good at and things were not.
And that it’s really important that they asked me questions and that they can kind of get to an understanding of what’s important to them and they really find out where we stand on those and I’m going to be as straightforward as I can about helping.
Cuz I really don’t want somebody who comes in and just has that one Nails on chalkboard bit that they can’t get past.

Christian Mccarrick:
[57:04] Right now I know I definitely agree with that.

Emily Leathers:
[57:06] Did you find a team that you know folks.

Christian Mccarrick:
[57:08] That’s right that’s right who doesn’t have that.
I think right now you’ve mentioned a couple of resources during our conversation today any additional resources that you have that you would recommend for you no managers and leaders right there to the book,
podcast anything else that can you think I should have gluten show.

Emily Leathers:
[57:27] Yeah I think my two long-term go to books thanks for the feedback as I mentioned before and then the coaching habit by Michael bungay stanier recently I really enjoyed the four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin and.
It talks a little bit about internal and external accountability and did a lot for helping me understand.
How I come across to somebody as a manager when I want to set expectations for them.
How I can make it easier for them to meet those expectations and how I can avoid that place where I say something in passing and somebody just like does it with their next two weeks because I haven’t quite got experience but like there’s that fear right and you see little versions of it all the time.
On the podcast front a couple that we talked about also I love.
I will simple detergent because it gives me really specific software engineering manager advice I like miniature tools because it gives me incredibly actionable.
Follow this recipe and you can have an X process for generic management and then I like coaching for leaders because it gives me that.
Higher-level strategic piece along with a ton of book recommendations and I love book recommendations the look and sound of leadership has fantastic short Executive coaching topics.
And then the engineering manager slack I think it’s and Josh Manager is and I think you have folks recommend that before I find out really useful.

Christian Mccarrick:
[58:51] Yeah no useful and overwhelming at times you can be I can lose like 45 minutes and I can.

Emily Leathers:
[59:00] Oh yeah that’s the one where I started out by joining all sorts of channels.
And then I learned that I really needed to Pare down to the two or three I found most interesting and really only use the others when I was going to search for information rather than just I want to see everything cuz I love to know.

Christian Mccarrick:
[59:14] That’s it that’s better than awesome awesome Channel there one any anything final want to talk about.

Emily Leathers:
[59:24] I see I think that covers most of it one of the things that I’ve been having a lot of fun with recently is writing blog posts that take.
As much as I can about the things that I figured out about how I want to build my job. The process is I use the systems that I use.
And dumping it all down onto I just virtual paper so that other people can follow it and bootstrap off of it so a quick plug for.
A really in-depth post on running on site interview debrief number of the pieces that I talked about around welcoming a candidates in pieces around helping them feel more comfortable physically in your space things like that check out my blog I’ll have more coming out soon.

Christian Mccarrick:
[1:00:05] And you’re that URL again for the plug.

Emily Leathers:
[1:00:07] I it’s great enough. Me / blog.

Christian Mccarrick:
[1:00:11] Okay is that the best way to people reach out to you.

Emily Leathers:
[1:00:13] It is others a contact form on that site or you can hit Emily at Great enough. Me.

Christian Mccarrick:
[1:00:17] Okay and we mentioned a lot of good I think resources on the show I’ll go through,
and post them on the simple dealership. I owe as a show notes so for those of you who go visit the webpage you’ll be able to quickly link to a lot of these items,
okay Emily thank you very much for your time today definitely appreciate you coming in.

Emily Leathers:
[1:00:37] Oh thank you so much for having me this is really fun and thank you so much too Gene for the intro if you haven’t checked out her episode on employee motivation from September.

Christian Mccarrick:
[1:00:45] It is ever Angie was an awesome guest too and definitely do go back and not to listen to jeans but there’s other ones if you’re just joining the show there’s a lot of good ones out there too to look in the archives and listen to as well have a great day thank you.