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Level Up - Issue #56


Level Up

September 6 · Issue #56 · 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.

Having hard conversations
This week I was speaking with leader unsure about how to provide some difficult feedback to someone. I’ve been there, you’ve been there. Typically you’re worried about how they are going to react and consequences with the conversation. The dynamics of the conversation certainly depend on a number of things:
  1. Differences in power dynamics - If you are their manager or the other person is your manager;
  2. Impact on working relationships - What will this do in the future interactions?
  3. State of the current relationship - Is there even a relationship to begin with? Is it good or bad? Has there been bad blood in the past
Here are five tips that have certainly helped me:
  1. Establish safety - Give people and heads up that allows them to control the environment of the conversation (e.g. location, time)
  2. Follow the feedback formula (Situation, Behaviour, Impact) - Avoid jumping to suggestions, or conclusions first
  3. Focus on them - A lot of poor feedback takes only into account the benefits of the person giving it, not of the person receiving it. Ensure your feedback will help them be more effective
  4. Focus on the long-term - Prioritise the points that contribute to a better working relationships or success for both parties. The Crucial Conversations book has a great framework to communicate your needs
  5. Focus on what you control - You control what you communicate, what words you use and how you choose to react. Remind yourself you cannot control how someone reacts.
  6. (Bonus Tip) Earlier is better - When you avoid conversations you should be having, you often end up making them worse. It takes courage to give effective feedback and doing so early before a situation escalates is always better. Remind yourself to be direct and empathic (ala Radical Candor)
I hope you enjoy this week’s content. If you find it useful, please forward to someone else and send me feedback. Stay safe and healthy 🙏
Join the virtual 3-hour workshop, “Shortcut to Tech Leadership.” Level Up subscribers receive a 15% discount off registrations with the coupon code “LEVELUP15” until Sep 15. Each course has a limited number of tickets (up to 30), so book now.

Have those harder conversations earlier than later.
Have those harder conversations earlier than later.
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Book Recommendations By Engineering Leaders
The Official, Authorized List Of Legitimate Reasons For Deciding to Become a Manager
Focus on the Good Parts
The Rhythm of Agile Leadership (Presentation)
Level up your technical leadership skills on Sep 23, 2020 (click image above)
Level up your technical leadership skills on Sep 23, 2020 (click image above)
Principles for Microservice Design: Think IDEALS, Rather than SOLID
These students figured out their tests were graded by AI — and the easy way to cheat
If everyone hates it, why is OOP still so widely spread?
The Agile Manager: Legacy Modernization
Organisation & Processes
Implementing Shape Up
Title inflation is bad for everyone
Dev huddle as a tool to achieve alignment among developers
Building the perfect tech team
Interesting tweets
Rare but always a nice treat when working with a well-architected system
Diomidis Spinellis
You appreciate a software system's architecture quality when you add a new feature and all its code falls nicely into place. Even more so for unanticipated or complex features.
[Photo credit:]
Always amazing to see how creative people can be! Worth watching for a laugh if you AWS🍿
Very cool content from @naomi_pen 👏
Introducing: Debbie the Database.
I've been working on a little project in my free time to make some database concepts more approachable - I'd love to hear what you think and whether you'd like to see more content like this. Anyway - enjoy! 😊
Thanks for making it this far! 🤗
If you enjoyed this newsletter, please send me feedback and share with others!
Want to level up your technical leadership skills? Join the Shortcut to Tech Leadership online training workshop, built from the ground up for a distribute remote learning experience. Or check out the self-paced courses at the Tech Lead Academy including “Time Management for Technical Leaders” and “Fundamentals of Systems Thinking”.
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Patrick Kua, Postfach 58 04 40, 10314, Berlin, Germany