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Level Up - Issue #28

Effective communication is hard. Yet it's one of the main skills technical leaders *must* have to do

Level Up

February 23 · Issue #28 · View online
Level Up delivers a curated newsletter for leaders in tech. A project by Ideal for busy people such as Tech Leads, Engineering Managers, VPs of Engineering, CTOs and more.

Effective communication is hard. Yet it’s one of the main skills technical leaders *must* have to do a good job. This week I had a conversation with a leader who received feedback that they felt was abusive. How do you handle this conversation?
I posted this on twitter:
“When you receive terribly formed feedback that feels abusive, remind yourself it reflects the state of mind of the person sending it… not you, who is receiving it”
One person asked a good question, what do you do about it? One person suggested giving feedback on the feedback. Without more context, it’s hard to give good advice. Consider:
  • Was this a faceless stranger on the internet where there is no pre-existing relationship?
  • If you engage, how will it escalate?
  • Is this coming from your manager?
  • Is this coming from a peer? or;
  • Maybe someone on your team?
  • Was this the first time, or the Nth occasion?
All of these details matter. From my personal experiences, giving feedback on the feedback if emotions are running high is likely to escalate the situation. If this is a repeat interaction and you don’t feel safe, you may want to consider more formal support (e.g. HR team, escalate to a manager of a manager, or even consider talking to the police/legal options).
If you have had a good relationship with the person in the past, I find giving them space is a good step. Invite them to join a private safe space to talk less about the content of the message, but about the tone. In a work environment, you can and should set expectations and boundaries about what is appropriate and not appropriate. Three books that are very helpful include, “Thanks for the Feedback”, “Crucial Confrontations” and “Radical Candor”.
Apologies for the rather long introductions this time. I hope you still enjoy this week’s content. If you find it useful, please forward to someone else and send me feedback.

Dealing with difficult feedback
Dealing with difficult feedback
Confessions of a Recovering Jerk Programmer
Exploring the skills problem – From a tech lead’s perspective Exploring the skills problem – From a tech lead’s perspective
Larry Tesler, the Apple employee who invented cut, copy, paste, dies at 74
Spotify Unwrapped: How we brought you a decade of data
Docker Images : Part I - Reducing Image Size
(Tool) Git Explorer (@gitexplorer) (Tool) Git Explorer (@gitexplorer)
Organisation & Processes
Kickstarter Employees Win Historic Union Election
LendingClub buys Radius Bank for $185 million in first fintech takeover of a regulated US bank
Onboarding Class for Your New Job
Interesting tweets
This tweet reminds me of Belbin Team Role Inventories. It describes typical roles that emerge within a team. We tried the Belbin model once for a team and I found it useful at building empathy and understanding.
Kieran Snyder
1 Proposed: In any successful team, four roles show up over and over again, no matter what the project. Every effective team includes an Inspiration, an Organizer, a Questioner, and a Peacemaker. Thread >>
This is great wisdom from Cap Watkins below being careful not to sub-optimise for a part of the value chain, but for the whole of the system. 🙌
Cap Watkins
Now that I'm managing Engineering + Design + Product, setting team-wide KPIs is so much nicer. When I was running just design, I generally resisted setting design-specific KPIs, since I always thought the goals should be shared across the disciplines working together.
Click through to watch this amazing 3D wallpaper 😱
Thanks for making it this far! 🤗
If you enjoyed this newsletter, please send me feedback and share with others!
If you’re interested in growing and supporting technical leaders in your company, get in touch about my “Tech Lead Skills for Developers” course.
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Patrick Kua, Postfach 58 04 40, 10314, Berlin, Germany