20 - Your Reports
A report is a teammate reporting to you, means you’re his hierarchical manager.
I personally don’t like the term report but for the sake of readability, I’ll stick to this standard term. I learned the hard way that using non standard terms only brings fuzziness in your organization.
As an engineering manager, helping your reports to learn, grow and become better at their craft is part of your duties.
To achieve this goal, you need to learn to know individually each of your reports.
The idea is to have a good understanding of his personal situation, what he likes, don’t like, what drives him. The point is not to become friends but to be able to adapt your management style and your actions to his context.
For instance, if one of your reports is the father of a young baby, it can explain why he’s been so tired recently and under performing.
Never be too curious or ask too much personal stuff. Your report will share only what he wants to share about his own life.
At the beginning, it can be easier to share more about hobbies. These are quite neutral topics and can be good ice breakers to help to create a relationship.
The relation is bidirectional, so get ready to share a bit about you. But don’t overshare, don’t complain, don’t share your problems.
And the most important point, never ever criticize, or speak badly, or share confidential information about another teammate.
If you do so, you’ll show by the example that you can’t be trusted. The individual discussions you have should remain super confidential.
The idea is not to act as a mother or a father either. Your report is a skilled adult, like you. Don’t fall in the trap of over protecting or over driving him.
To help your reports to learn and to grow, you will mentor them. Do it by actively listening to their challenges, by asking questions, by sharing some tips, some ideas, or some useful resources. However, never try to make them blindly apply what worked for you in the past, each context, each person is different.
Great managers know how to adapt their management style to the given situation and the person. Adapting our style is not an easy task. We have our very own personality that drives our default behavior. But it’s something that you need to learn to effectively support the growth of your teammates.
Last but not least, each project contains plenty of learning opportunities. Detecting these opportunities, and giving the right opportunity, at the right moment to the right teammate is a wonderful way to invest into his growth.