My company recently promoted two new engineering managers, and I was assigned to report to one of them. I'm excited to be working with this person again (we've worked together a little before), and I know she will be a great manager and I can learn a lot from her. Not only is this an opportunity for me to learn from someone new, it's also an opportunity for me to be part of my manager's journey and learn more about how my manager and I can work together to grow and build a productive relationship.
Prior to working at this company, I haven't really had any very hands-on managers, and adjusting to my former manager's style was a bit of a long process for me. One thing I wasn't really able to do with my former manager, which I do regret, was give feedback on how he could be a better manager for me. Since one of my goals for 2020 is to become more comfortable with feedback, I've decided that it would be beneficial for me to make a habit of giving regular feedback to my new manager. This not only helps me feel like I'm helper her grow as a manager (which is something I want to do because I know she will be a fantastic manager), it also helps her learn how to best work with me ... and gets me more comfortable with giving feedback.
I'm not used to working for a company that is very feedback-focused, so I'm still figuring out how to best give this feedback. We're currently scheduled for regular 1:1s, and I always take notes during/after these meetings. My goal for all of our future meetings is to spend a few moments after the meeting reflecting on what went well during the 1:1 and what could have gone better. I plan to revisit those notes before the following 1:1, and if I find something in those notes that is actionable, I will mention it to my manager. So far, I've done this once - specifically mentioning something she had done in the notes from our last meeting as being helpful - and I want to continue doing it for the entire course of our relationship. The best way to ensure that our 1:1s are sucessful is for us to be honest with each other about what is and isn't working, and I plan to do my part in that (and I'm sure my manager will as well).
Another important way for me to ensure a successful relationship with my new manager is to figure out how I want to be managed. I've never had a manager with whom I felt I had a comfortable and successful relationship. I know that my last manager and I were on the right path, but we hadn't been working together long enough for me to feel like we had truly settled in to our best possible relationship. With my current manager, we're starting from scratch on our journey, and that gives us the opportunity to figure out what works best. So far we've had formal 1:1 meetings every week and the occasional informal check-in on Slack, and those have given me a lot of chances to touch base with my manager and see which of those interactions feel most productive to me. There are a lot of "little" things that managers can do to support their direct reports, and I need to figure out which of those little things will help me be successful and share that knowledge with my new manager.
The fact that I was assigned to my new manager during our mandatory work from home period has been helpful, as this is the first time I'm working with a fully remote manager (my manager is based in a different time zone than I am). Officially, my manager at my last company was not in the same office as me, but we really didn't interact very often, and when we needed to meet, I went to his office and worked from there for the day. Other than the occasional day when my most recent former manager was working from home, I've never worked closely with a manager who was not in the same office as me. At first I was worried it would be an adjustment, but for now it's just one of my many virtual meetings/interactions, and I'm hoping that by the time I'm back in the office, working with my remote manager will feel like a seamless extension of our existing relationship and not a change from what I'm used to.
Working with my new manager brings me another exciting opportunity, as this is the first time I've worked with a female engineering manager. I'm fortunate to have not experienced very much gender discrimination so far in my engineering career, but I know that there is still a gender gap in engineering and there are unique struggles that come with being a woman in the field. Having a female manager gives me the opportunity to talk through these struggles with someone who may have experienced the same thing, and get feedback and insight based on her experiences. In addition to the personal benefits I get from reporting to a female manager, I'm also excited to be see my company truly embracing diversity and inclusion at all levels, which is yet another reminder of why I feel so comfortable at this company.
Working with a new manager can be difficult, but it can also be a great opportunity to learn from someone new. Thankfully, I know my new manager is committed to working hard to become a great manager, and I'm hoping that together we can build a working relationship that helps both of us grow. So far we've been working together for a few weeks, and things have been going well. I'm excited to see how our relationship progresses and how we can help each other improve - and I know that will require a lot of thought and a decent amount of hard work.