Here at QDivision, we are doing things a little differently …
In most software development organizations, there is a manager who is responsible for all aspects of the dev team: product features, project tasks, priorities, timelines, and personnel matters. The manager meets with product stakeholders for requirements, manages the developers’ day-to-day work including production support, and handles training, vacation, communication of corporate initiatives, performance reviews, employee on/off-boarding, and all HR matters.
There is inherent conflict within the manager role with this type of structure. There is always push & pull between stakeholders and the development team, with stakeholders promoting accelerated feature development while developers advocate for addressing tech debt, doing research for continuous improvement opportunities, and learning of new tools and frameworks.
The icing on the conflict cake is the manager’s duty to communicate and implement new corporate initiatives and programs, ensure compliance with mandatory training, coordinate vacation, sick time, work-from-home, employee on/off-boarding, etc.
When something’s got to give, it’s the employee and HR matters that end up on the back burner, most of the time. This can result in low morale and employees who “check out” and are not engaged with their work.
Here at QDivision, the employee is front and center – we are ever mindful that in a software development organization, the greatest assets are the people. The Engineering Manager is focused solely on the employee – we are not responsible for product architecture, design or features, support, or development tools/frameworks. Those responsibilities lie with Product Owners, the Design Team, Tech Leads, and Agility Coaches, while the development teams take ownership of their Sprint commitments and production support.
The bi-weekly 1:1 meeting is where I have the biggest impact and add the greatest value. The 1:1 meeting is the safe space for the software engineer to talk about anything – they own the agenda and their questions or problems are addressed first. Sometimes there are questions about new corporate or department announcements or concepts. But oftentimes we talk about team health and communication with teammates, or I’m asked for advice on how to effectively negotiate on feature development and design elements, or how to get tech debt and learning prioritized. Sometimes they just need someone to listen to their frustrations and to let them know that their feelings are not unusual or “weird”.
The 1:1 gives the insight to enable us to address issues sooner and before they become big problems, where we have time to quickly adapt before we miss timelines or product failures.
But don’t take my word for it. Listen to what some of our software engineers have to say:
“I really appreciate these meetings. I get a lot out of our discussions.”
“I’ve been working on my soft skills …” then afterwards “thanks so much for the advice!”
“We’re getting a lot better at advocating for tech debt and have been successful getting some of our stories prioritized into the last couple of Sprints.”
If you’re interested in joining an organization like this, reach out to us.
By Lori Folta, QDivision Engineering Manager
Founded in 2017, QDivision exists to disrupt the standard, discover possibilities, and deliver solutions that are customer-focused, efficient, user-friendly, and beneficial to the transportation and moving industries. #LetsMove