Tina Fletcher's Readme

I’m transitioning to a new team soon, and a colleague gave me the idea of providing a “readme” as a way to introduce myself to the people I’ll be managing. Here it is!

Hi! I’m Tina :-)

I’ve been the manager of a few different teams in my career, but have never joined a team AS a manager (I’ve always started as an individual contributor first, and then changed roles). I plan to do a lot of learning and observing at first. I also thought that some background information about me and my management style could be helpful as a starting point.

What I’m here to do for you

  • Provide coaching and help you grow in your career
  • Shield you from distractions, and help remove friction and barriers so you can focus on your work
  • Help our team to make good engineering decisions
  • Work with our Product Manager and Designer to define and maintain clear priorities for the team, and to promote a sense of team purpose/vision/value
  • Promote visibility of our team’s work

A bit about me

  • 5.5 years at D2L, all on a team known as Nimbus. Started as a Software Test Strategist, became the team’s manager in 2017.
  • Before D2L, 9 years at RIM/BlackBerry. More software testing roles, including management.
  • 1.5 year old daughter Sierra. Husband Bergen works at Google (through acquisition of North).
  • I do triathlons for fun. I grow vegetables and hops. I’m a Vancouver Canucks fan. We camp a lot in our trailer. I’m the president of a non-profit organization called the Kitchener-Waterloo Software Quality Association.

Team dynamics that are important to me

  • We all communicate frequently and openly
  • We assume good intentions from each other, and everyone else we work with
  • We feel comfortable / safe enough that we can (respectfully) challenge each other’s ideas
  • We give each other thoughtful, thorough, and timely feedback on our work
  • Team members tell me when I am proposing a bad idea, when something isn’t working, or when information is not clear
  • We build and maintain connections with other teams, and share knowledge/code/etc as much as we can
  • We participate in broader initiatives and events (e.g. working groups, demos, presentations, etc)
  • We follow the TED Principles (Be Excellent to Each Other, Act Like an Owner, Make it Safe to Try, Build Sustainably Without Over-Engineering, Build with Empathy)
  • We remember to celebrate wins and take time to have fun, learn, and grow

1:1s

  • My default is once every 2 weeks for 30 minutes, but am flexible if you’d prefer something else
  • I’ll always start by asking if you have anything you’d like to discuss
  • If you run out of things to ask, share, or talk about, I’m happy to fill the rest of the time by asking other things like:
    • How you’re doing
    • What you need from me
    • How our team could operate more effectively
    • Professional development opportunities
    • Other things going on around the company
    • etc

An email thread that lasts a whole year!?

  • I like to maintain an annual email thread with each team member where I document key information about how your work is going
  • I find this to be more useful than most other “performance management” strategies… although at certain points we may translate some content from our email thread into another form or forum in order to meet company requirements (e.g. annual OKR process)
  • Every couple of months or so, I’ll send an update on this thread and include my thoughts about themes from our recent 1:1’s, significant chunks of work you’ve completed, challenges you’ve faced, goals you’re working towards, etc
  • You are welcome to reply on the thread any time as well, particularly to add things I’ve missed or to correct anything I’ve written that’s not entirely accurate
  • Reasons I like doing this:
    • Provides a mechanism to regularly review / celebrate progress and successes
    • Removes recency bias when doing annual performance assessments
    • Gives me an opportunity to regularly reflect on how your year is going and how I can better support you

This pandemic though…

  • This has been a tough year for everyone. Please let me know any time if there’s something I can do that would make things easier for you - even if it’s really small.
  • Work hours, work scope, communication preferences, home office equipment, taking vacation on short notice, or even just someone to talk to - whatever it is, I’ll do my best to help.
Written on September 3, 2020