Earlier this week one of the managers on my leadership team shared a most excellent article around the concept of a manager Readme, a readme file to get folks ready for a new manager, and a number of great examples from our industry. You can read the article here
I was quite inspired, so I drafted an MVP, and my management team helped me iterate it into a good state (thanks team!)
The latest version can be found at Github: here.
So, I’m your new manager, department leader, skip level, etc. First off, welcome to the team! If you are just joining Avvo, you’ve got some exciting and fun times ahead. If you’ve not met me before, I’m looking forward to it! My name is Hunter Davis, and I’m currently engineering director here at Avvo.
I’ve been managing engineering teams and growing leaders since the early 2000s. Mentorship is a focus for me, and has been for the latter half of my career. In the early years of my career I focused purely on writing great code and spending my free time as a ‘hacker’, until some deep introspection made me realize I wanted to help others. That has been the most important lesson I’ve learned, and the driving motivator for everything I do. I believe in servant leadership, and I am an important part of your support structure. I am here to help you succeed.
One of our most important management tools is the 1:1. If you’re an engineer, we’ll spend our 1:1s discussing growth areas, career growth, current sprint work, ideas, issues, and more. It’s your time, and we’ll build an interaction model that works for the both of us, together. If you’re a manager, we’ll also discuss coaching strategies, your direct reports (and your skip-levels), current management challenges, etc. No matter your role, our 1:1 will be a time we can strategize, talk things out, and build a stronger working relationship.
I do not believe in micro-managing, as it demonstrates a lack of trust, and trust will become the basis of our professional relationship. As such, the onus of responsibility for tracking your current goals and growth areas is yours.
I truly believe feedback is a gift. As such, I’m very open to your feedback, and I’m trying to improve my leadership and interaction models every day.
I see myself as an opportunity-finder. Problems are opportunities. Growth areas are opportunities. New hires, new ideas, these are all opportunities, just waiting to be explored. I’m here to help you explore them. As such, my primary mode of communication will be conversation.
Did you ever watch “Scrubs?” It was a show about a teaching hospital. I pattern much of my manager interaction model around the teaching hospital paradigm, and of doing “rounds.” This is where I literally walk around the office trying to solve problems, support folks, and help mentor engineers. I try to do rounds at least once a day.
As mentioned above, I’m very open to feedback! If I interrupt your flow or you’re seeing too much of me, let me know! We’ll figure out an interaction model that works with your energy level.
My Growth Areas
I’m actively trying to grow as a business leader. I’m engaged in a leadership book club, and I’ll likely read any book you recommend to me. That’s been very successful thus far.
I’m also actively trying to grow in terms of my leadership interaction model. I default to a supportive cheerleading manager, and I’m a significant optimist. That interaction model doesn’t work for everyone, and I’m actively working to bridge my style out and grow as a communicator.
I’m not great at reading folks, especially faces, which is probably why I default to so much conversation. It leads me to occasionally miss nuance and undertones. That’s not a skill I’m likely to improve in the short-term, so I ask that you be understanding and forthright in our conversation, and trust that I’m here to help you succeed.
I’m very soft spoken, and ironically my hearing isn’t great. I also have a bit of a stutter I’ve been working through. If you have any trouble hearing or understanding me, please let me know. Our communication is vital to your long-term success at Avvo.
Expectations of Work
One of my favorite speeches about work was given by a fictional character (Red Forman) whom I share very little in common with. The script is below, but the gist is that there is an expectation of professional behavior and accountability. I try to be a kind manager, supportive and understanding of folks. That has to be balanced with trust, the trust we build together. I trust that you’ll work hard, put in your hours, show up promptly for meetings (I’m working on this too), and help each other.
Red Forman -> Work is work, Eric. You don’t show up late, you don’t make excuses, and you don’t not work. If it wasn’t “work,” they wouldn’t call it work. They’d call it “super-wonderful, crazy-fun time!” Or “Skippedydoo!”
Helping each other
As I mentioned above, I expect you to help each other. We’re a collaborative environment, we pair in thought and often in tasks. Help each other. That’s my direct expectation of you.
If you are blocked or don’t know what to do
If you’re ever not sure what to do, find me, a manager, a mentor, or your program manager and we’ll help you directly. If no-one is available, reach out to a team member. We’re here to help you.