Based in San Francisco, Remote Branch is a blog by Todd Larsen. His posts suggest Management best practices for Hiring and Mentoring software engineers.

Week in Review

My executive team makes a habit of sending “Weekly Priorities” emails to communicate to leaders at the company what they’ll be focused on for any given week. I like this weekly correspondence to stay in touch with colleagues and to make their duties a bit more transparent, but found that it was more helpful for me and my team to reflect on the previous week of what got done and discussed rather than highlighting what might get done in the future. Lara Hogan wrote about this idea on her blog and I’ve found it to be valuable for my direct reports as well as peers and leaders in other functions of the company.

I use this memo to help myself solidify learnings from each week as well as streamline communication with my team so I’m not repeating myself over and over. I send it out to anyone I interact with on a regular basis, on Thursday afternoons to avoid getting lost in the shuffle of Fridays and the impending weekend. In italics, you can see placeholders for links to internal documents that I want to remind people of to reinforce policies and procedures. I also use it to connect the dots between themes in our 1:1 meetings and to coach people on professional philosophies that I believe to be important.

Here’s a recent example of a weekly review I wrote earlier this year:

First review of 2019! Scroll down this doc to catch up on previous reviews if you haven't had a chance to read them yet. Kudos to everyone keeping production nice and stable while we were all spending time out of the office over the holidays.

Here’s what I’ve focused on this week:

  • Ramping up Engineering Hiring

  • What do I do all day?

  • The Ideal Engineer

Ramping up Engineering Hiring

You may or may not have noticed that we're beginning to do more engineering interviews again. We reached our 2018 hiring goals early and de-prioritized hiring until the new year. I used this time to revamp the Engineering Hiring Process to standardize things a bit more and to address some feedback we received over the last year. Don't forget — we have a pretty sweet referral program if you have excellent former colleagues you'd like to work with again!

What do I do all day?

Hint: you do it too! You might read my standup notes to learn the details of what I'm doing on a daily basis, but I've been thinking about what my role as a manager is in an abstract sense. It basically boils down to these 4 things: Gathering information (e.g. status updates and doing interviews), making decisions (e.g. to hire or not to hire, to kill or keep a project), advising (e.g. suggesting an implementation, meetings) and role modeling (e.g. setting an example for expectations). The cool thing about these traits is that we all have them in common despite our different duties. You're managing your own workflow and projects, communicating with other people, making technical decisions, giving feedback on Pull Requests and meeting the expectations of our team (Growth Engineering Expectations). “Management” isn't just a macro role but is stuff you do on the micro level every day.

The Ideal Engineer

In previous 1:1s, I've asked some of you to describe your vision of the “Ideal Engineer”. I want to bring this up again in 2019 because I think the traits you highlight in this thought exercise can form a nice basis for growth and becoming the engineer you value so highly. Many of the traits are the same across definitions of “ideal” so this shows me that many of you already know what needs to be done to become the best engineer possible. It's just a matter of breaking it down into steps and then getting opportunities to internalize those traits to make them come naturally to you in the future.

My User Manual

Treasure the 1:1