Should Managers Write Code with Leith Abdulla

Leith AbdullaGiven a jar of peanut butter, a spoon and a challenging problem, I feel set up for success!
I build and manage happy, healthy engineering teams that ship impactful products without sacrificing the user or developer experience. I like to focus on engineering culture (testing, performance + career growth), creating tools for engineering managers, internationalization, accessibility and improving the relationship between engineering, design, product managers and product support.
I’m in a happy place when using storytelling for impact and automating workflows to ensure best practices and culture.
born in Minnesota, I have Texas roots, where i graduated from the university of Texas at Austin. at Stanford, i tinkered with soldering irons in the HCI lab while pursuing a PHD. before finishing, i graduated with a masters and co-founded the machine learning company diffbot. later on i directed engineering at Coursera for six years and am now the CTO of a small startup called Hi Hello.
always a lifelong learner, my favorite conversation topics include: basic income, extending life, open source, crispr, equal opportunity in tech, android and vegetarian restaurants.
Today’s topic is about, Should engineering managers write code?
Twitter: @eleith
Show Notes:
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Christian Mccarrick:
[0:04] Good morning ladies welcome to the show so where are you calling from today.Leith Abdulla:
[0:11] I’m calling in from Palo Alto in a incubator space called the kennel.Christian Mccarrick:
[0:15] Oh awesome yeah I’m just tired of up the Valley from you in in San Francisco today so in the same time zone so great in a great to have you on the show here.Leith Abdulla:
[0:26] Great spirit go to heaven.Christian Mccarrick:
[0:27] So what are the things lace II start with all my guests just going to keep the format the same a little bit if you give me just a quick kind of high-level notes of you how you got to where you are today and and then what you are doing today.Leith Abdulla:
[0:40] Great day I came out to California from Texas wanted some good weather and a continue my schooling at Stanford I thought I was going to be a professor and.
Have they started going through my Ph.D program I I kind of discovered a kind of what makes a Silicon Valley tick and I found a a colleague of mine who is interested in taking an idea and turning it into a company.
I’m in from there I just had a discovered my entrepreneurial Spirit we found it a company called but I was out of that for 5 years and then.
I had joined another small started by the time and it was a 4th or 5th person that the company called Coursera was there for 6 years.
And now I undo it again and I joined a small team up for at a small chemical hi hello I’m currently the CTO that company so I had to find Randy’s last 10 years.Christian Mccarrick:
[1:33] Well excellent yeah you kind of have written to run the roller coaster up and down a couple times and you’re you’re you’re doing it again.[1:41] How long does times at Coursera did you start cuz there was an individual contributor and then going to a manager there.

Leith Abdulla:
[1:50] Yeah that’s it that’s that’s a good Segway oh yeah so there was four people there and you’re my first day my my first task was I was handed some tools and ask to build my desk from Ikea.
So certainly I am from day one.
To have kind of like a management and things like that but Coursera group from 4 to 2 in about 3 little bit over 300 during the six years I was there.
And Sterling management opportunities opened up and I made the transition quite early on as we were going pretty quickly within your one.

Christian Mccarrick:
[2:29] And was that your first time being a manager role there cuz her.

Leith Abdulla:
[2:35] Yeah it was at my previous company bought we know we start I was a co-founder of that company.
I’m so there are two of us for about 5 years and then pinch you you in five years we grew to from two people to two people.
And we had a 8 in turn so there was some growth there but not a lot of management experience of course there was definitely my first time.
Both being at as a manager kind of implicitly like yeah we didn’t,
have like a management philosophy and have like who you reporting to you know you can have an EHR software things like that,
I’m always here at the end of my six years, it was pretty flushed out in the end of part of the core culture of the company and that wasn’t my first experience kind of,
doing that in a professional level.

Christian Mccarrick:
[3:25] Sure and it’s always a great ride him and I I love doing that myself really kind of starting in there’s nothing there and kind of helping to build out and having a say in in in.
Being all that from like I said from putting the desk together to know housing a fully and a well-run organization right.

Leith Abdulla:
[3:43] I think I’m both sides do you ever watch those shows Undercover Boss where like the CEO takes on all the different roles and it’s nice being an organization we’re like all I’ve actually been on.
I play different roles rather than just kind of coming into having one roll the entire time so it was it was a unique experience.

Christian Mccarrick:
[4:02] Sure so 6/7 whatever years later anything that stands out that if you could go back and talk to your younger self that you might have done differently this is the next time around.

Leith Abdulla:
[4:14] Yeah yeah that’s a good question I thought a lot about that it it’s it’s really hard to go back in and then say like what you done differently cuz it.
Yeah but there’s a butterfly effect and you do want things differently and you end up with something that you think you want by then you have something totally different but you can certainly look back and walk away Inns and.
Look at some lessons learned there’s up there certainly a lot in in 67 years so it’s hard to pick which ones there to talk about I think if I were to knock it down to just two.
You know one is there’s this idea of you doesn’t matter where you started his matters where you end up.
And that’s a nice little cliche to just kind of.
Just keep moving forward in your adventure but when you’re thinking about management thinking about people not there actually has a lot of impact and and what we saw and what I saw on certain that Coursera.
There are no any there just for people there’s a lot of opportunities to set expectations for,
how you want to grow what type of organization you want to have what type of Engineers do you want to work with what type of Engineers engineer culture do you want to have and I think looking back.
There are a lot of decisions that we didn’t make we weren’t explicit about oh here’s what we want to do we’re kind of just,
we’re startup you know we’re doing whatever it takes and we’re just moving really fast and it keeping up with the pace.
As a look back into all the things that changed in 6 years know what your product is who your users are those changing it’s really hard to set expectations towards on external environmental variables.

[5:52] Young Society in and you know your investors and how the company grows and freaking out Coursera was what is online education look like.
What you do have the levers up in an organization is setting expectations for what kind of engineering organization do you want what kind of culture do you have.
To be very specific and there’s one thing that I didn’t do and I look back in it certainly something I I am doing cheer hi hello.

[6:20] Is thinking about just sitting a sweet Asians for what type of engineering culture you want those an example we never were explicit about.

[6:30] Are we going are we testing culture do we write test with our code we never said yes but we never said no we said this is really important.
And we should all do it.
But we never said expectations for will how do we do it or how do you don’t I don’t think there’s a right answer whether you have to build an engine culture that does or does not.
Certainly there never been in years that that would probably disagree but I think it’s not a right or wrong answer but setting expectations for we are going to do it.
Or we’re not going to do it and this is why.
Turns out I didn’t is Unum I believe in looking back on it as a lesson learned it that’s very helpful when your organization changes because your product changes or what not.
So you could say one nice kind of example say we’re not going to write test because we’re very busy this is an extremely competitive market place we want to get something out there and so the cost of not writing it,
is that you know we’re going to deal with bugs but we’re going to move very quickly.
And then if things change and you’re not moving quickly are you don’t need to move quickly or you know your user base changed or your product changes and you need you had me to care about quality and of the cost of bucks on changes.
It’s it’s nice to have those expectations hey he were going to change and here’s why.
But when you don’t have those expectations that it becomes is constant battle that it gets harder because your organization grows its fine when there’s two people that kind of just change it but we never go do something different.
But when you have a hundred Engineers it becomes a lot more difficult to control the culture because the culture is no longer.

[8:03] What contained within just a couple people it’s a hundred people into finding that cultures all about expectations from Windows Engineers walking on Dateline.
So you always look back and go there’s a lot of opportunities to set expectations not make the right or wrong decision but just said expectations and for the ones that we didn’t.
Does became really big challenges when we were trying to,
start to reset expectations as we had those answers to what we were doing how we’re building and who are users work description.
Yeah where you start it does matter.

Christian Mccarrick:
[8:38] Yes I think I think you make a cup of great points there.
And setting expectations in general whether to buy your engineering culture with about your management style with her it’s about anything I think you’re right when when is there.
When there is at ambiguity that it leads to.
People potentially feeling you know which way to go leads to direct people not making decisions or leads to maybe disagreements and all that thing gets in the way of actually would people really want to do is just write code and she products.

Leith Abdulla:
[9:07] Exactly when there’s not explicitness you know what happens if it is not immediately visible because there’s misinterpretations,
and those misinterpretations don’t get seen until a little bit too late like oh you know you expected me to write test,
that’s the other was not a testing framework or you know when I committed code it wasn’t telling me I’m how many tests or can I coverage at what I want,
and that misinterpretation leads to those disagreements or kind of really the surprises like oh you thought this was important I did I didn’t know,
and that makes it really hard drives the manager to kind of set expectations for teams around your engineering organization.

Christian Mccarrick:
[9:50] Yeah absolutely and also you didn’t give me time to write the test right I mean there is there any story points in here you didn’t put story points that would be four tests and you still expect me to do it at least a lot of frustration on the other end.

Leith Abdulla:
[10:03] Yeah exactly.

Christian Mccarrick:
[10:04] You got a point you made out to which I want it which I do want to point out is.

[10:08] That organizations change and grow over time and not the expectations you have at one point.

[10:15] Might be different in the future and it’s important on a quarterly basis a yearly basis whatever it is or some defining moment the company that you go back you assess to make sure that we.

[10:25] Are you having today is the best for what it should be in the future and then if you’re going to make a change don’t just do it but explain that to the to the teams and everything else to about why and this is how it’s going to be moving forward.

Leith Abdulla:
[10:37] Yeah that really hit home attic Corsair to my spiked when you’re there when we started out here we were the Moose space and move sir,
Italy’s open massive courses and we were getting enrollments of 100000,
200000 people in one course these were not paying users he’s where lifelong Learners who were dipping their toes and not a lot of commitment to completion but,
you know what that,
large enough population you get a number of people that would go through the course and you have a really good experience but it turns out in 6 years it was hard to build a sustainable company,
both for the institutions that were putting on that content and for Corsair itself and the direction that the company headed in.
Need a professional degrees either certificate a certificate that would take 6 months to get her even full on,
accredited degrees from institutions like a Illinois and ASU in Michigan.
And that price point of that product went from free to $20,000 for for some of that the degrees and that changes all your expectations of who your users are,
and what their expectations that they’re bringing to the organization but free users you know they would see bugs all the time they would have posted the foreign sand,
it was a great engineering culture to just be responsive and have a good support team in basically move fast and break things.
Weather putting on an online degree for someone that is paying that much money and dedicated to learning for 4 years I particular difficult subject.

[12:12] Those expectations change and they don’t want things to to to break.
And that that how you approach engineering that type of product all of expectations changed in terms of what kind of quality.
Steps do you put in between writing code in the deployment process and that was a huge shift for the organization and is it and the shift is in a shift as one thing.
I’m shifting 100 Engineers towards a big culture change like that that badges layered on that difficulty in it and it created a huge hurdle for all the managers within the organization.

Christian Mccarrick:
[12:50] Definitely yeah I can imagine that I want to shift gears a little bit too I reached out to you because I had stumbled upon an article you had written called.

[13:01] Should I join reminder to write code.
Wrong question is it Topic at asked and continually debated it’s become somewhat of a polarizing topic with people.

[13:12] Firmly on one side or another it’s yes it’s no it’s exactly 20% all that so I’m going to spend the rest of the show talk to you but about that and.

[13:22] You don’t any article make a good point that start with this one you say.

[13:26] Focusing on how much code managers should write his tracks from the intent of why managers right want to write code to begin with when you explain that.

Leith Abdulla:
[13:36] Yeah this is something I know I wrote that because as as Coursera was growing we were transitioning many people to management so like you said,
it is at the top of that keeps coming up because organizations are I’m finding you managers and where do those Majors come from from engineering.
Those Engineers they write code already they’re transitioning to a role that was measured by how well they wrote code or maybe how much they wrote code to roll other people base roll,
I’m in that transition in a carry the context.
They’re engineers and they’re measuring themselves and their success by their technical skills and how do you understand those technical skills by writing code and so.

[14:25] That that black hose just came out of diving into that and terms of addressing the fact that these are people who are writing code.
And they’re transitioning into a people and their they need help with that transition and I felt it was important now and.
Introducing people to the management role to address that need.
And not come in with a polarizing Viewpoint up here’s how you should do it but rather say why do you feel that way and then let’s address that because if you feel successful yourself as a manager.
Your team will be successful and so I don’t know if that would pertain to that you know for every one particular for someone who’s not writing code in there background,
but certainly has as we look in the field today there’s a lot of Engineers transitioning to management for companies that are growing because,
I got the best place to find managers because they have that at Legacy of seeing the product change are the team of the organization changed and so they add a lot of value,
but it’s worth a dressing you know where they’re coming from and what they’re doing the eat the same thing with Engineers you look at their contacts at and you dress that rather than say change table looks list list I’ve been to understand where you’re coming from,
and then let’s make it work and so that question kind of a rose out of,
hey you are an engineer you see yourself you measured your success like that because that’s how you know how you learn,
how you went to school or what he went to and how you been doing engineering for the last couple of years what’s address that transition,
and you’ll be happier and you’ll be better set up for success and dust your organization will see that as well.

Christian Mccarrick:
[15:58] Yeah I know. I think that’s a good approach to it certainly because it’s it is a transition I think for some people to go cold turkey or what not it it’s a g and people like to fall back meme management is different it’s hard.
And a lot of Engineers just people in general would like to fall back on what’s with a no right with easy for them and coding.
Is probably something they know they’re comfortable with they they get their hands dirty and going into tackling those the unknown is just harder right so people tend to fall back on what they know.

Leith Abdulla:
[16:27] Write an antenna out that opens an opportunity to have a slippery slope write in a lot of the the bad transitions story that are out there are a manager who another transition,
anime just spend a lot of time writing code and that that opens up a lot of,
a potential pitfalls for a couple of Reason one you could spend too much time writing code in so I dress that in the article the other is,
you are writing code in a way that,
it’s hard to keep up with the Pulaski set out so if you work one of the team you like well you know I think you should be writing test I think you should be doing,
Quality Inn excetera as a manager when you’re writing code you also have these these people management responsibilities and as you start to balance that how you write code actually gets impacted,
I want to see it from a lot of managers that really push themselves to write a lot of code is that they can’t keep up with the level of quality or the process that they’ve established,
how to write good code and so they cut those corners and then when they cut those Corners their models.
For the rest of their team to do that as well and it becomes really difficult a challenge and so a lot of teams can end up I’m kind of suffering when someone,
I miss dedicate themselves to writing code either either they don’t do it in the right process in the way that they set out for their team,
or they do it so much that there were people responsibility kind of suffers from that and that the actual management the value you get from that management goes down.

Christian Mccarrick:
[18:02] Yeah definitely excellent point and then you you break it a little bit and you just hinted at it to you know instead of asking this this and you point out how much code.

[18:11] You said it’s a you know where can I write code and then you break that down especially to start you say okay where when should a manager not write code.

[18:21] Right and you know what are some of the things you should you expose least you call out hey in a running code is an inherently bad you know but where should you just probably stay out of.

Leith Abdulla:
[18:32] Right exactly I think there’s a number of places where I just seen that it’s it’s relatively difficult to write code and that’s where you know that the baddest comes at 1 is there anything that is,
eonline two major Milestones right when there are deadlines and place,
your team is set up for success to to meet those Milestones assuming you do the planning and and and and roadmapping with your designers impregnators correctly but as a managed as a manager yet people responsibilities in,
what everyone has to address with that is that it’s very hard to plan around people responsibilities someone has an issue and they come to you and and that’s an interruption that,
that’s why you’re there and that the value you at and to be to get a line of writing code that has deadlines,
it’s very dangerous and almost always never works out.
So anything that’s directly in line of some deadlines or some product roadmap at those are generally got to stay away from that.
You really have to think about what other opportunities to write a code that it is isolated that sets you up for Success about something that you want to do,
and so I lay in a couple of places where that is when I first transition to it when really easy place was just picking up really small,
bugs that were literally just line changes you know that there was like a with change at it for.

[20:03] So I can see SS or there was a really small illogical bug things where the testing infrastructure was all in place and really was just him out to,
hey there is a something there was a solder Buck here and I can kind of fix it and save my team from some contacts twitching and so is a is a great opportunity to do that now what I think is important is not that you’re doing that stop it was important,
is why are you doing that and one is certainly too kind of service hey you feel good your writing code,
the other is I think it’s really great for managers to have a working Dev environment on there a workstation because.
That one big problem in one great value atamanchuk have is to have empathy with their Engineers who are struggling with their death environment right either the documentation is out of date or there’s some environmental change that is,
I need it I’ll be very helpful and it feels really good to be able to have the empathy and what better way to have empathy to enter grow through that cycle but in a shortened cycle that pays attention to your responsibilities and commitments.
And so am I picking it really small things it is really helpful to go hey I have a working environment.
When people are complaining about are talking about these tools I know what it is but I don’t know I don’t spend all day doing it I just do something really quick,
and it feels good and services and how I feel,
in terms of peanut liking the right code but also balances I know what I’m working on now it’s worth acknowledging that this is also a slippery slope as with any of the advice that I guess.

[21:35] For example some plugs are introduced by your team and it’s very valuable that they see those bugs and,
they’re at the other end of that responsibility for fixing that as well as a manager you have to be able to disambiguate,
when is when is this bug worth the context which because maybe there’s a good test there’s a good lesson here for,
are the individual who committed it or for the team to own have ownership and responsibility for the work they produced and when is it something small and it’s not worth that contacts change in,
and only really you as someone who wasn’t engineering it now that manager can make that decision but it’s worth being very explosive and how you feel and what impact,
I’m your having by by you riding the small things.

Christian Mccarrick:
[22:19] You I really like what you said about yeah I completely agree with having this old Dev environment and will depending on the complexity of your relation or least a full report of environment on on your local machine on your laptop.

[22:33] It’s so true part of your role as a manager to is to is to remove obstacles to be a force multiplier for your team and if if you go in.
And you know you may not be riding color but you’re like.
My God that mean just the it takes you know an hour to build this or it’s you know if you get the environment of a running is 3 days or whatever it is.

[22:54] I use you talk about that empathy.
Right well then it’s that as a manager I would look at that is like wow that’s a great way I can help my team right whether I’m going to do it myself or I’m going to have another maybe Sprint.
Maybe work on build-process build tools whatever it is but again if you don’t know that this is such a painful part you can’t invite by you addressing that.
Depending on the size of your team you might have just saved you know if you have six man monster of time office over total years.

Leith Abdulla:
[23:19] Yeah exactly as a manager and this one thing I cannot keep hinting at article it’s all about it the intent right you know one intent why do you want to write code your previously engineer but why is it worth the dressing,
because about building empathy and so on,
thinking about different aspects of an engineer and how you can build empathy is really important having a working Deb environment,
being able to understand what is it like to go from writing code to committing ain’t going to that process I don’t think every manager has to write in a fix really small box it may be good enough you feel comfortable,
understanding here is the entire process,
here’s how people feel about it here’s how it can improve and hear how it Stacks up against that roadmap if you feel good about the empathy in your team feels like you can represent them and how they feel and how their works good for you and that that’s exactly what you want all about your intent,
and if you do decide to take up on code you know what is your intent how’s it making you feel better as an individual and how’s it making you.
Battery cheap your responsibility as a manager I find having working Dev environment is a really low barrier weigh for someone with a small team of like four to seven people.

Christian Mccarrick:
[24:32] Yeah and I think you know the concept of intent to is that can be like it like everything else right it can be you can come back and bite you a little bit I know.
You know I was reading something else by Kate Matson and Yoshi talks about.
There was a deadline she wanted to help her team so you know she was a manager she took the weekend and just killed herself and.

[24:55] Monday morning she comes in and you know she rewrote 5% of the code base to fix this bug that’s been causing all these problems in.
You’re the first thing her the CEO says who’s reported he was like well I wish you would help me on this rpe response instead and then the team is shutting her because she kind of did this.
You know she did this hero manager thing and it kind of resented a little bit for that and you know so I think it’s important to make sure that you don’t do that like if you do see something wrong.
As you point out maybe you don’t fix it.
Maybe you could engineer maybe it’s a good learning opportunity you but again you can see it you know it needs to be fixed maybe it’s a a pair programming.
Kind of session will you walk them through it might be better way to do something but again it’s about having an empathy about being able to at least look into codebase if not necessarily the right thing from scratch.

Leith Abdulla:
[25:42] Write it and yeah I think there’s there’s a balance here that one is managers,
I got to learn to make mistakes and I think that’s the best way to to set managers up for successes,
I’ll give them that freedom in that environment and give him the tools and 1/2 all you have is what is your intent with your how you’re acting and where you’re spending your time and then the other is to reflect on.
The impact of that intent.
If you decide to write a lot of code and then you end up pushing on the weekends and you start to see that your team feel like they need to work on that over the weekend if that happens and,
if you understand how I had this intent and hear that out come now you know what to do you did this and it caused this so,
yeah within your team you need to do something different right now because you’re a beer of your modeling that behavior and I think that the letters of intent and then,
looking back at you having a retrospective essentially on your own work you see that tools to learn and iterate and become a better manager in those are the same people that you want to empower your engineers know the goal is not to avoid the goal is to,
to learn from them quickly and keep it or any becoming better than the other tool to look at it,
what options do you have and that’s what I really push on the on the article is like here different ways to write code,
and I don’t think that one man should do all of them right right fixing small bugs was one of them another one was looking in to writing.

[27:08] Code for your tools right now what are tools that your engineers are using or using as a manager.
Those tools are outside of the roadmap and outside of the product but code is still really important in it and another lie for you have and so taking a step back and going what are all the different ways I could achieve,
really helps you balance your expectations,
your intent and and then just kind of move forward without having to make the right decision rather than just make a decision and a pair programming is better than you write in code,
or if I sign into a senior engineer or sending to a new engineer.
Balance all those out make a decision and then retrospect on the next time when you have to make that same decision you’re going to do a lot better.

Christian Mccarrick:
[27:50] Yeah and you call that a couple things your article about different scripts for Google Apps and G are not certainly done. Even myself just trying to get.
You know two things connected or are now put a reporter or some of those things I can really help because it’s.
The best coating that helps me do my job better as a manager or helps me to get information dispersed to the team’s better or anything like that.

Leith Abdulla:
[28:13] That’s really that’s really exciting I think Manders actually live in a really exciting world I mean software is eating the world and as a manager.
There are many different places to write code.
And for managers who connect themselves and feel good about writing code eat you don’t have to drop that entirely it is worth acknowledging that the question which is.
Where are you writing code and why what your tent is do you have to drop it in Thailand there’s a lot of opportunities I Coursera had a lot of fun writing a code format for other managers,
I never really played out and it’s Kit scaled-up what managers could do and I left a lot more free time for managers to to devote their time to talking to their team and better represent them and what decision needed to be made.

Christian Mccarrick:
[29:02] Yeah absolutely also mention want to stock box and that’s an addiction that I need to kind of wean off of.

Leith Abdulla:
[29:09] It’s like is amazing it’s so easy to write coded in and distribute to us your team won the most fun ones I had was that I wrote.
Connected upper lunch calendar so people on flakka just find out what’s for lunch without having to walk to the fridge I don’t know how much time is saved but it was really fun I I replaced all the.
Are any time there was a word I like chicken or broccoli replace those with Emojis and it was a lot of fun and I got a lot of use.

Christian Mccarrick:
[29:35] Any kind of it scratches that it’s a little bit is most productive but it’s fun and some people kind of enjoy some of that stuff as well so that’s always good.

[29:46] At what are the things you point at 2 is hackathons and it’s a good way and I think.
You even pointed out it at your time ago Sarah one of the directors of engineering and she want a hackathon one year is that right.

Leith Abdulla:
[29:58] Yeah it is hackathons are really great way to,
say hey if you FF writing code for the product or you know what kind of throwing yourself for a whole week of dedication,
that the culture of a hackathon is not just an opportunity for I see that’s awesome opportunities for managers with those that you clean and Richard Wang,
director of engineering at the time he wrote the script that,
connected the subtitles that were playing on our online courses to I think it was one of the Google speech engines and so it actually read out the subtitles.
You made it work for the captions for different languages so you could,
watch a video in Spanish but actually here Spanish rather than having to read Spanish it was an amazing definitely built in a week and it was was worthy of one of the awards that we gave her a hackathon it was great representation for just,
thinking about building a culture of our managers like to write code and and,
another one of us and they’re good to have as mentors but also he knows is good thing for managers to just take some time off and.
Not have to be people management 100% of the time.

Christian Mccarrick:
[31:16] Yeah I said that break from people management I think it’s important to do some fun things like that because it’s hard managing people and teams in organizations right so.

Leith Abdulla:
[31:25] Exactly I did a lot of managers saw hackathons as a vacation.

Christian Mccarrick:
[31:28] That’s an awesome way to put it in the online too and I quote from this I apologize to listeners if I don’t get the key attributes.
Quite right but it’s okay if you don’t spend any time with her could you run the risk of having the Ivory Tower architect anti-pattern you know kind of making decisions without understanding the implications and a future maintenance on the code.
Right it’s at you kind of agree with that.

Leith Abdulla:
[31:59] Yeah if you don’t.

[32:02] I agree with the sentiment that that’s certainly a a plausible and scenario for your team if you’re not careful how you go about doing that I think it’s really up to the individual on the team.
Shirley for myself rolling up my sleeves,
having a working Dev environment going through that process every now and then it was really important to me and I ended the article with,
yes I think to me that was important what if someone was stuck in a small buck I felt comfortable asking me about it.

[32:34] As long as they were able to do that whatever practice is that I did assuming that you met my management responsibilities I felt like I was doing enough,
I think for some people you know they they may have many many years of experience they may have been in the company long time and they have to pay can do a lot less you know,
rolling up the sleeves and getting down to it if they feel good about it and if they look back and their team feels good about at their team feels well-represented and they’re making good decisions that’s good I think it really comes down to is,
to ask yourself are you in that scenario are you headed in that scenario would you know if you’re in that scenario and if you are then there’s some practice that you need to change.
My advice infringing years that I think for many people getting a working Dev environment going through that process a couple of times,
pair program with someone on your team are really great ways to do that I don’t know if that’s the best for everyone in every situation but if someone is looking for what are the possibilities that would be one of my recommendations but I’ll I wouldn’t be so hard on on the side of that’s the only way to do it, other,
I would rather say it’s one way to do it I think it’s a really great way particularly if your background isn’t engineering.

Christian Mccarrick:
[33:44] Jerk and you know I also have a couple of people that I truly trust in my team that are either direct reports or.
Even a level down and you know that trust again in about someone coming up to you to asking for help but I also have people work I trust them to know that.
Well maybe they’re like my guy guiding rails and my feedback to say well that comment you made that decision Maybe.
You know you should research this a little more that they kind of keep me in check I think you can say like if I if I’m drifting a little too far from the code still privately call me out and say hey yo let’s let’s look at this or you didn’t we we made some changes in the last 3 months that maybe you weren’t aware of,
you might want to brush up with them and I think it was just those are that that’s important to have that trust with your with your team.

Leith Abdulla:
[34:30] Yeah you can really really good point which is you know what you know we talked about me and what is here intense what options do you have and then there’s that aspect of how do you do how to do that retrospective end,
and I like your point that one of them really really great way to do that is to get feedback from your team and you need your team to be open and honest with you and to be able to bring things up like that which is like oh you know you’re making these decisions that we don’t trust it because,
we think you haven’t seen the code wait so long time or we think that you don’t know how long it takes for us to,
Chester drawers all simple bugs because our Dev environment is a sluggish or had these issues on having someone like that on your team is really really valuable,
because they can’t keep you in check and I can let you know,
we are there other when there are opportunities for you to have more empathy and so that he can make decisions like oh you know what maybe I should get,
too far from it too long or hey everyone’s feeling really good and I have these opportunities to it to work on these other projects that that I have more leverage on it so yeah how do you do that retrospective is really important,
I be back up from people directly on your team as a really really great white building up that environment I think it’s probably one of the biggest challenges of a manager.

Christian Mccarrick:
[35:44] Yeah yeah exactly and you keep in your article and in the conversation today and you repeatedly bring up a concert with empathy.
That’s kind of interesting or timely I was on my Twitter feed this morning I I saw someone retweeted something a new book that was published this week by the author Michael Ventura the name of the book is applied empathy the new language of leadership I haven’t read it yet.
It does look interesting I’ll put in the show notes but but for you.
Have you bring it up so much and why is that so important for you like as a leader to really have that empathy with with your team.

Leith Abdulla:
[36:17] Yeah so I think you know for a couple of reasons and we want when I think about you know why why is your management you when when your head is really small company for 5 people new grow to 300.
You have this environment where there is no managers in and it’s great and I need to get to manage me question why do we have management should we have management hierarchies bad blah blah blah,
but when you eat when you get down to it and you look at the valley that managers have there is a lot of value that you see big organizations like Google and GitHub.
Go through this this mentality where they challenge management and where do they end up the end up with management.
And it’s not necessarily because it’s the best way to do things but it is a way to achieve acknowledging that people in a Workforce,
they want to be acknowledged as people and be dealt with as individuals and the way to do that is that you have peoples whose rolls are too are about working with people,
and I think that the that the best way to do that is to have empathy in the sense of if you’re to represent people you have to understand them.
And empathy is is probably the most important a lever you have in terms of understanding that because you’re.
The way I think I have disease you’re trying to understand people on your team you know by by putting on their shoes and and it’s really really hard.
And it takes a lot of practice and it it takes it also takes you no talking with your with your team and saying.

[37:50] Do you think that I’m representing you well do you think that I understand you know where you’re coming from,
both within the organization and the life that you bring outside of the organization we come to work until for me I think it’s the most important tool and the most important factor for success as a manager which is how strong of an empathy can you have.
And do people on your team believe that you have that and I think if you get over that hurdle or at least people believe that you’re attempting to get over that hurdle.
I think it makes management so much easier.

[38:24] And I also think it’s in to go back to you know why are manners right code I think it’s a really great intent to,
take something like that and go hey you can connect it to that you can fulfill yourself as an engineer because you are addressing the empathy thing as long as you know retrospective that you see that you’re doing.

Christian Mccarrick:
[38:43] Sure and I want to call out one thing that I’ve noticed from from the blog post you wrote that he kind of plays on that right you you called out.

[38:53] Different members of your team and your company explicitly by name links to them with specific examples about you know how they.

[39:01] You did something or specific thing where they worked on something that was specific to your you put in a point but it was just good I mean I think that.
Acknowledgement of of your team and their contribution to the article really stood out to me is as really something I think a really good.
You know good leader does right so I just want to point that out to you that it was noticed in in a such a good thing I think further matters to try to follow.
In in a really point out your team because recognition of people and what they’re doing and that you noticed that things are doing really goes a long way for there.
You know their happiness in their and they’re their satisfaction and you know and wanting to work for you and your company.

Leith Abdulla:
[39:40] Also I really glad that you knows that yeah I think you just like we were talking about you know what are the tools you have,
there’s their mini tool that a manager has four,
building a Tampa theme in building a great team that you know one of them is a personal recognition at calling people by name as I try to do that in the block cuz I’m glad that you noticed that you know hopefully other managers can take that.

Christian Mccarrick:
[40:03] Great one thing I would ask so you’re you you’re starting a new company now do you have like a elevator pitch kind of what you’re doing and you want to you want to talk about it at all.

Leith Abdulla:
[40:12] Oh yeah sure there is a four of us returning a company called hi hello where in the space of a personal contact management,
I’m so if you think about the address books of today in there there’s a couple of things that we don’t like about it,
one of them is you know most address books are a service for another product,
so one of the big price out there is email client so I just was really about completing the email address and otherwise you know most of the contact management has gone to Social Network,
we think that’s a problem because social networks are,
not about connecting you on a personal level with that people that you care about but rather you know the sense of group management are in a viral CR thinking about a post that’s going to be shared to a lot of people,
and Athena social networks have their own,
Pana motivations you through ads or you know like LinkedIn you know they want you to build as big as social network as possible because they’re building a recruiting service they really great service is out there but they don’t address at what we see as a need for,
have people to think about who who’s important to them either the people that they just recently matter people that they met in the past and how are they on keeping up with him.
I’m for us are our long-term goals are,
the measure of success that we want to look at it for people that are really close to you are you taking on habits that are helping you build better personal relationships.
Server example if you have no people in your network that you want to meet for lunch once every 3 months are you doing that.

[41:46] We don’t we don’t want you using a nap 30 minutes a day I rather we want to,
be able to understand who you’re connecting with and then I’m sure that you’re doing those actions that are important to you so that you can have,
you can have a special like that that is fulfilling and purposeful to you so no easier than that for help people who are magic.
Close social group of like eight friends or someone who’s networking and meeting a lot of people but wants to connect with people and stay in touch and then she would ever call that they have there really a younger short and we’re just looking at a better address book and,
spaces ignored I’m really excited to be working on it.

Christian Mccarrick:
[42:25] I do have a product yet or your pre-launch.

Leith Abdulla:
[42:29] I don’t realize it says I hopefully I sometime this summer.

Christian Mccarrick:
[42:32] Okay well great we’ll hopefully you and what’s the use our website yet people can stay tuned for information about that.

Leith Abdulla:
[42:39] So hi hello. Me and hopefully by the summer will have something out.

Christian Mccarrick:
[42:45] Accent while I’ll be kind of looking forward to that one thing I asked a lot of my guests to anything that you’ve read or seen or watched kind of lately that,
you might recommend to other engineering managers so or something you know maybe today something that you read long time ago that really made an impact.

Leith Abdulla:
[43:02] I said you don’t want advice I give to all people who are transitioning to management is to spend some time reading about management,
and not in the sense that I think there is material wears like this is exactly how you have to do it,
I think one of the biggest hurdle of someone transitioning to management is accepting that they are now a manager,
it’s up to two advice I get actually get two pieces of ice one is not to look in the mirror and say the words I am a manager at find that to be very helpful and helps quite a bit but the second is a spend time reading and II,
I think reading about management one again acknowledges that you’re making that transition but to it it gets you thinking about it.
And whether you read a book and you think about that you’re agreeing with advice that you’re seeing,
or that you’re disagreeing with it I think that time spent doing on activities well worth it helps you sharpen up your skill set and helps you address what kind of manners you want to be and the doing the things that we talked about today unit turns of Ben 10 having retrospect,
the three books that I recommended this in terms of the one that most recently read there’s one called The Alliance.
There’s one called the type B manager.
And then there’s another one called radical Candor they’re written in the last five to ten years,
and they’re just good books and terms up diving into one aspect of management,
and I think you know it’s that that couple of hours spent reading those books are well worth in the sense of.

[44:38] You spend time thinking about management and and walking away with your own opinions and with your own management style,
I think your team will benefit from that time spent doing that just as you know hopefully you recommend people on your team too,
you read books or take online courses for whatever skill said that they’re trying to get better at managers need to do the same as well.

Christian Mccarrick:
[45:00] Absolutely and if your listeners out there I’ll put the link to those books on my show notes sample of shift that I owe you can go check it out and find the link to those books are radical Candor certainly one that.
I’ve mentioned another guest dementia before it is as you could read and I recommend it to to my managers as well.
What’s the best way to contact you online with your you know some links you have with your your your blog your website your Twitter.

Leith Abdulla:
[45:27] I have a website and I have a very social networks that I’m willing to connect with anyone on there.

Christian Mccarrick:
[45:36] Okay great and again like thank you very much for coming on the show today had a great conversation and I hope it was actually the start of some more conversations for some of the listeners out there is they going to bring those information not to their teams so thank you.

Leith Abdulla:
[45:50] Thank you awesome I’m glad tell someone’s out there,
pulling and finding people to talk about this subject that we’ve all gone to school in terms of learning how to code and learn about technical skill sets but you know we didn’t go to school learning about management so having these conversations really important so thank you for doing this.

Christian Mccarrick:
[46:06] Absolutely will have a great day.

Leith Abdulla:
[46:09] YouTube.