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Seeking Approvals at Work Exhausts Me

I hate to admit this, but recently I have been finding myself caring more and more how people think of me at work. It’s natural for humans to seek others’ approvals. But the level to which I seek approvals has increased so much that it becomes counter-productive and bothers me. Leading a big project contributes to this change. To lead the project effectively, I need to pay close attention to how each stakeholder of the project feels about the project — not only the team working on the project but also other people invested in the project in one way… Continue reading

Three Lessons from A Frustrating Meeting

Recently, I had a meeting where in the end everyone walked out of the room feeling frustrated. Looking back, I realized we spent 45 mins on a meeting that could have finished in 10 mins. I contributed to the frustration due to three mistakes I made. I’m writing down the lessons I learned to remind myself to not make the same mistakes again. These lessons are: 1. Make sure the meeting goal is clear to all participants. 2. Identify areas of agreements and disagreements. 3. Understand my role in the group. Make sure the meeting goal is clear to all… Continue reading

Project Planning: A Spike with First Principles Thinking

How can you plan and break down a project that you are not familiar with? With the new quarter approaching and my team getting ready to tackle the next project, it was time for me to understand the next problem we want to solve. Yet, I was intimated. I felt that the problem at hand had so many unknowns. I was afraid of not being able to fully uncover all of the issues. I didn’t know where to start. I asked my manager for help. He shared with me the framework he uses for understanding and breaking down a problem…. Continue reading

Fear No Awkwardness — Chatting is Good

This post can be considered as part 2 of The Power of One-on-One Meetings and Personal Connections. Although just a week ago, I wrote The Power of One-on-One Meetings and Personal Connections, I was still hesitant about the one-on-one meetings I had scheduled today. Those amazing feelings from previous one-on-one meetings had left me. I was, once again, skeptical and wondered if these meetings would be any good at all. The good news is all one-on-one meetings I had today went great! Same as last time, I enjoyed them thoroughly and was glad that I had them. I want to… Continue reading

The Power of One-on-One Meetings and Personal Connections

As engineers, we generally prefer less talking and more coding. There’s a widespread belief that no one likes meetings. I used to hold that belief. As a result, when I started leading projects, I procrastinated on scheduling regular one-on-one meetings1 with engineers on my team. Although I knew it would be beneficial and both my manager and my mentor advised me to do it, for varies reasons, I was hesitant and kept putting it off. Finally, I had a few one-on-one meetings last week. They turned out so productive and useful that I only wished I started doing them earlier,… Continue reading

How to communicate effectively for bigger impacts

Your communication skills largely determine your impact within the company. We mostly spend the early phase of our careers on learning “what to say” — we grow in our technical expertise and domain knowledge(todo: link) so we can make the right trade-offs and come up with the best solution. After that phase, “how to say” becomes important, because once you arrive at a conclusion, the next step is to share your reasoning and potentially influence the outcome of a discussion. “How to say” deeply depends on “who you are talking to”. Knowing the person you are talking to is key… Continue reading

Communication: Getting on the Same Page (Part 2)

This is part 2 of last week’s post: Communication: Getting on the Same Page. I thought about it more this week and summarized a few more points I missed in the first post. 1. Make sure people share the same understanding about the end goal. At the beginning of the project, we were using the same words to describe the end goal without realizing we meant different things. Because we had different understandings about the what and why of what we needed to accomplish, we had a hard time getting on the same page and sharing the same priorities. For… Continue reading

Communication: Getting on the Same Page

I started to lead a cross-team, multi-quarter project a few weeks ago. I expected that, before the team could completely switch to execution mode and be 100% productive, we needed to spend a decent amount of time in the initial planning phase. Although I knew that it would be a challenge, I still underestimated how hard it was to get everyone on the same page and have an actionable plan that everyone feels good about. Just to be clear, everyone on the team was passionate and eager to get started. The challenge inhered from the fact that: 1. the project… Continue reading