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How can you set effective engineering team goals that are aligned with the wider business?

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In this series, we explored how engineering leaders can set, communicate, and drive progress towards the right goals. Here are the highlights.

Airbrake

1. Setting the right strategic goals for your engineering org

How are other successful tech companies approaching team goals? In this panel, we brought together a group of engineering leaders to discuss how they set goals that generate direct results, across multiple teams, while staying relevant to the long-term success of the org.

Featuring Stevie Palmateer (Director of Engineering at LeafLink), Mustafa Furniturewala (VP of Engineering at Coursera), Eric Anderson (VP of Engineering at Airbrake), Mandar Bapaye (VP of Engineering at MasterClass), and Tanisha Barnett (Senior Director of Engineering at Mailchimp), the panel explored:

  • What success looks like for engineering orgs
  • How to communicate effectively to both your team and senior stakeholders
  • How to set actionable goals that align with the wider business objective
  • Which frameworks are better for different teams
  • How to cultivate a culture that drives growth in the right direction

2. Five mistakes to avoid when setting OKRs for your team

Most engineering teams use the Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) framework to manage their goals. When OKRs are well set, engineering work feels natural and teams move organically towards achieving their goals. But getting OKRs right can be a challenge.

In this article, Dan Persa walks you through his team’s journey with OKRs and outlines the five key mistakes they made: getting someone from outside of the team to set the goals; framing the key results as a to-do list; creating binary key results; setting objectives that depend on each other; setting an overly-ambitious number of OKRs.

3. Is fear stopping your engineering team from achieving its goals?

In this article, Göran Sandahl shares why fear matters for engineering teams, and why it’s stopping so many developers from reaching their goals: the more ambitious the goal, the bigger the fear of failure.

By prioritizing psychological safety and creating an environment where folks are safe to make mistakes, you can help engineers to overcome their fear of failure. He identifies four practical ways to tackle fear in your teams, from practicing incidents and celebrating the learnings to committing to small, iterative releases.

4.How do Netflix, Nubank, and Airbrake achieve engineering success?

In this article, we asked three engineering leaders for their perspectives on what a successful engineering org looks like, and the goals they put in place to achieve it. Featuring Scott Baldwin (Director of Engineering at Airbrake), Lindsey Bleimes (VP of Engineering at Nubank), and Sangeeta Narayanan (Director of Media Cloud Engineering at Netflix), our group of interviewees discussed:

  1. What success looks like for their engineering teams
  2. How they set their teams up for success in achieving their goals
  3. How they handle accountability for these goals
  4. What to do when you’ve set an unattainable goal

5. Making goals a habit: A guide to reaching engineering goals

Once you’ve set the right goals for your teams, how can you drive your team to achieve them? Eric Rabinovich warns against creating a goal and then forgetting about it until its due date, instead advocating for reviewing goals regularly and putting them at the center of all your conversations.

In this article, Eric shares his three-step guide to maximize your chances of meeting your goals by addressing them daily, referring to them whenever possible, and embracing them in your day-to-day work.

A final takeaway

Setting the right goals is a challenge, but following up on them is equally important. As Göran Sandahl notes, ‘No team has ever won due to the greatness of their goals; it’s how the players behave that influences the outcome.’ By taking steps to reduce fear and embedding goals into your everyday activities, you can create an environment where engineers can thrive and deliver value both to engineering and the wider business.

Airbrake

Making goals a habit: A guide to reaching engineering goals
Episode 05 Making goals a habit: A guide to reaching engineering goals
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