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At any given time, there will be a multitude of factors affecting your engineering teams. With all this noise, how can leaders efficiently measure what is going well and what isn’t?

October 19 – December 14 Leadership course
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In Assessing the health of your engineering orgs, the health of teams and its relation to the wider organization is explored.

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Episode 1: Want to gauge the wellbeing of your team? All you have to do is ask

‘It may seem like an oversimplification, but the most effective way of measuring your team’s health and happiness is to ask them, listen to their answer, and be open to that answer being no.’

From building a safe space where answering truthfully to ‘How are you?’ is normalized, to the importance of effective 1:1s, Jemma Bolland discusses the impact that the simple act of checking in with the team can have. She describes straightforward frameworks that help leaders integrate regular check-ins with their culture, and how engineering leaders need to prioritize their own mental health and make this known to their team. By setting an example of ‘it’s ok to not be ok’, leaders are more likely to hear truthful answers from team members regarding their own mental health. When engineers open up in this way, it can bring to light issues that may have been affecting velocity in the team. Therefore, it’s paramount that leaders are ready to listen to potentially negative answers without becoming defensive or dismissive to enable them to carve the path forward. 

Episode 2: The health of your business depends on the health of your engineering team

‘Companies that see engineering goals as distinct from business goals are making a critical mistake.’

In this article, Hillary Nussbaum explores how ‘engineering metrics rarely make the cut for the board deck’, despite the impact that engineering has on the success of a business. But there is a fix for this. Hillary explains that there are two key metrics an engineering leader can bring to the board to tie engineering goals back to the business goals: Cycle Time and Deploy Volume. They focus on the speed of an engineering team and how much they’re shipping, respectively. Hillary states, ‘When you couple Deploy Volume with Cycle Time, you’ll be providing a concrete foundation for conversations about strategic roadmaps and resource allocation.’ This article provides the reader with the insight they need for gathering the necessary data from these metrics to champion engineering at their organization.

Episode 3: How to measure and improve success in your engineering team

‘Moving the needle begins with setting the right goals.’

This in-depth guide written by Eric Rabinovich highlights the effect that goal-setting has on an engineering team, and how leaders can optimize this process. Eric explores the crucial differences between Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and goals, as well as what a leader needs to know about each in order for them to set both correctly. Additionally, the reader will gain insight into how they can ‘support this methodology and embrace this results-driven culture’ through their leadership to optimize the success of their teams. 

Episode 4: Understanding your team’s velocity

Understanding a team’s engineering velocity can help engineering leaders find process inefficiencies, identify areas for potential improvement, and help to empower teams and stop them from burning out.

During this webinar, our panelists – Smruti Patel (Head of LEAP & Data Platform Engineering at Stripe), Kathryn Koehler (Director, Productivity Engineering at Netflix), and Bryan Helmkamp (Founder and CEO of Code Climate) – and moderator – Juan Pablo Buriticá (Head of Engineering, LatAm at Stripe) – explored:

  • Cultivating transparency through data and trust; 
  • Metrics: the value they hold and why, how to design them, and how to track them;
  • What velocity means and why it’s important;
  • How velocity is different across teams;
  • The limitations and trade-offs that occur when managing the velocity of multiple teams.

A final takeaway

From the content in this series, it is clear that there is a domino effect when it comes to the health of an organization – starting with an engineer and ending with business success. The insights the reader gains from this series will enable them to check-in at various points of an org’s structure and engineering lifecycle, to ensure that optimum health is being maintained by the processes in place and the engineers who work within them. As Hillary Nussbaum writes in her article, ‘businesses with excellent engineering teams are much more likely to succeed’; for engineering leaders, understanding the inner workings of their teams is essential to achieving velocity that motivates engineers and satisfies the board

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Understanding your team’s velocity
Episode 04 Understanding your team’s velocity
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