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That Final Little Push

An elephant mother nudging her calf

You know the feeling. You’ve worked on this thing for weeks, which was much longer than anticipated. You have faced unexpected complications. You have struggled with bad documentation. You had to implement functionality yourself that you thought the framework provided out of the box. Now, all you want to do is to ship it, because other things had to wait and are piling up. But, hey, it’s review time, and your reviewers won’t let you ship it…

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Are You Suffering From the Curse of Knowledge?

A magic book showing a potion recipe

Think of a well-known song. Say, Happy birthday, or Row, row, row your boat. You tap the rhythm of the song on a table, while somebody else is listening. Do you think the listener can guess which song you’re tapping?

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How to Establish Peer Accountability and Overcome Interpersonal Discomfort

A team of race cyclists working together in perfect harmony

One of the most surprising things I learned as a new manager was that people actually don’t give each other that much critical feedback. Even if there is something that has been pissing them off for months, maybe years: Most people will not pull the other person aside, tell them what bothers them, and suggest to do something differently. Instead, one of three things usually happens.

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How do You Pay Back Your Relationship Debt?

A scale with boxes on it, tipped to one side to suggest that something is out of balance

Sometimes, you can reach a goal quickly by not involving somebody you should involve, or by shouting and banging on a table, or otherwise using force. However, this comes with debt - debt that you have to pay back if you want your relationships to be healthy and lasting. How, then, do you refactor relationship debt?

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How to Exhibit Leadership as an Individual Contributor

A woman explains something to her colleague - Knowledge Leadership is an important form of leadership

It used to confuse me. Every year, when performance reviews were due, my organization evaluated everyone on several skills. Leadership was one of them. For team leads and department leads, sure, I got that. But I would wonder: How can I score an individual contributor on leadership? It’s not their job to inspire, motivate, and guide others. It was not until some time later that I understood why it actually makes sense…

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A Year Ago, I Stepped Away From a Leadership Position. Here Are 7 Things I Learned From That.

You do not need the title of a leader in order to exhibit leadership

My learning curve had flattened. I was reasonably good at what I was doing, but I had been doing the same things for too long — mainly people management, organizational tasks, and communication. One colleague once called me the counselor of engineering, because of the many one-on-ones I was doing, and because a lot of people trusted me. A colleague who held a position similar to mine had a different name for it — Papa Smurf of the department. I loved my department, and the people I worked with. But it was time for something new…

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Stop Producing All the Time!

An abundance of crises can be a symptom of a lack of long-term work

Lucy was feeling overwhelmed. She was leading a small team of four developers, and wherever she looked, more work was piling up with no end in sight. She could not keep up with incoming messages. The end of the sprint was almost there, with only half the work items done. No time for improvements to the build infrastructure. Again. Lucy seemed to be unable to produce fast enough. Then, why is it the right advice for her to stop thinking about her production for a while?

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7 Strategies That Let You Master the Most Difficult Conversations

Some conversations are more difficult than others

We all know them: Conversations that we should have, but keep postponing and avoiding. We just know that they will blow up. And yet, it keeps bugging us. Why is the operations team blocking our work? Why does my colleague revert my code changes without talking to me? Why does my boss pass off my work as his? There should be a way to have these difficult conversations without things blowing up and going all wrong. If you follow certain techniques and strategies, you will maximize the probability of success.

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How to Get to the Core by Asking the Right Questions

Before inventing solutions, you have to find out the cause

A couple of days ago, I had the opportunity to assess prospective new people managers, or Talent Leads, as they are called at trivago. One of the exercises the candidates had to go through was a simulated one-on-one conversation. I was amazed at the number and variety of approaches that were taken to find out as much as possible. Some candidates really got to the bottom of the issue. Those who only scratched the surface usually made one of seven mistakes.

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How to Build Rapport With Your People

Rapport connects people

Sometimes, you get to be the tooth fairy, other times you have to be the dentist. This Team Geek quote reminds us that, as a manager, you don’t always have pleasant news to spread. When you have to be in dentist mode, having built a strong relationship, or rapport, with your people can make the difference between an awkward monologue with a limited result and a healthy, candid, tough, but productive conversation that the other person will be thankful for. Here is how you can consciously establish that rapport…

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