The demands on engineering leaders have never been higher than they are in today’s economic climate. Not only do we have to navigate the very different role of people management, including leading teams through layoffs or other restructures that may lead to more direct reports, but in many cases, we are also asked to code features ourselves!
So how do we balance? Do we spend 2 days coding and 3 days managing? Do we split our days down the middle? In this talk we’ll discuss various strategies to balance, as well as help you understand how you can discover the optimal approach for your individual work style, so that you’ll always be able to stay on top of both IC work and management work.
A critical part of managing this balance is mastering how to be productive as a leader – because the tips and tricks we used to be productive as an IC won’t always transfer over to leadership, since it’s a fundamentally different job! In this talk we’ll also look at productivity ideas designed for the unique demands of a management role. And because we know each individual is unique, we’ll help you learn how to discover which practices are best suited for you.
About the speaker
Andrew Murphy has been in the tech industry for 10+ years and started as a software developer before becoming a leader in consultancies and product-based SaaS companies (most recently Group Engineering Manager at Linktree). He now runs Tech Leaders Launchpad, a leadership training course that’s been specifically designed for new and emerging tech leaders.
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You can view the slides from the talk here - and see below for the full recording
James Dong 0:03
Oops, okay, cool. Okay, great. So thank you folks so much for joining us. My name is James, I manage operations at multitudes. And one of those roles is that I get to help curate our tech leader chat series. So for those of you who are new to tech leader chats, this is a group of engineering leaders who care deeply about people and culture. And we really come together and have monthly talks about insightful topics for which we can all learn and bring back to our teams. Multitudes is a product that helps engineering teams improve their performance, collaboration, and well being, while always keeping in the forefront that lens of focus on people. So today, we're really excited to kick off our 2024 season or 2024, year of tech leader chats with Andrew Murphy. So Andrew has been a in the tech industry for over a decade. And he's a member of our tech leader chat slack, which is where we kind of continue these discussions. And I'll plug that later, but you should all join. He's been a really active contributor of that slack group. And you can really tell that there's a such a huge focus from Andrew on sharing best practices, sharing knowledge and helping upskill other folks, especially new leaders, I know that that's something that you know, Andrew, from your experience, you mentioned, when you made that transition, there wasn't a lot of good resources. And so I really admire you for taking the step to give back. And this is such a relevant topic in this macro economic environment where a lot of engineering leaders are being asked to do more coding. So really excited to hear from you on this topic. And with that, I'll let you take it away.
Andrew Murphy 1:42
Thanks, James. Thanks for the great intro. I'll do a little bit more on me later. But I like to start these kinds of talks with a story, generally a story that humiliates me. And the reason I do that is for two reasons, the first reason, because I want you to understand why this topic is meaningful for me personally, and one of the ways I can help us see that is by telling you how I messed up in the past. And so that's one of the reasons I tell the story. The other reason I tell the story is to make you feel sorry for me, so that you will vote this talk highly. And James invites me back. So with with no, with no real reason other than those out, I'll tell you this story. So by James says, I've been a tech leader for quite a long time now. I've been in the industry about 20 years. And I've been a tech leader for about 15 of those years. And I got into tech leadership really early into my in, in my career. By the time I was 24 years old, I was leading a team of 10 people, what 24 year old knows how to be a good employee, let alone a good leader. And so I made a bunch of mistakes in my early leadership journey. And unfortunately, as a leader, a lot of those mistakes, we make our mistakes with people. And so there's there's a lot of stories I have from my early leadership experiences that I'm quite embarrassed about because of the mistakes that I made. This is one of those. So I was running a team of about five or six people, I built this codebase that we were working on. I created it entirely from scratch for this company. I was the sole engineer. And then we ended up hiring people in to help me build the software. And of course, being the longest tenured person, and being the person that knew the codebase the most. I was the default tech for leader. And being the arrogance 24 year old that I was I can do that job. And the best coder, I know, I can be the best tech lead that I know. And so I became the tech lead of this team. And I started doing a lot of behaviours that looking back on it. With reflection with 15 years of reflection, I see what terrible behaviours but at the time, I didn't see it. One of them that's relevant to what we're going to talk about today led to a circumstance where I had to wear a paper hat to eat my lunch. And that paper hat said the words, Andrew is on lunch on it. The reason why I had to wear this hat is because I wanted to help my team. I genuinely wanted to help them. And so every time they came to me with a problem, I gave them the solution to the problem straightaway. And they come to me with a problem. And I give them a solution. And they come to me with a problem. And I give them a solution. And this pattern just kept repeating itself and repeating itself to the point where every time they had an issue, I was the solution to that issue. I became the nexus of all information in the squad to the point where I couldn't even have my lunch break because my team was was bothering me. And so one of my team, as the solution to this problem, created a hat that said, Andrew is on lunch on it. And the rule in the team was that if I was wearing this hat, nobody wants to bother me. 24 years old, I saw this is a perfectly appropriate solution to the problem. The problem I had was that people were bothering me in my lunch break. And the solution was, help them to go away. Reflecting on that with 15 years of leadership experience, but I can see as a whole heap of mistakes I made that becoming the next to the ball information was not the right choice, I should have empowered my team and enabled them to solve the problems by themselves, I should have created artefacts and databases of knowledge that allow people to solve these solutions themselves. And my time management fields, which is where we're going to get to in the meat of this, were atrocious, because I didn't separate the time that I was spending as an IC, from the time that I was helping them become better ICS themselves. And so that's, that's the meat of what we're going to talk about. Let me just start my screenshare. Okay, so the title of this presentation is how to balance it work and manage your work. There's going to be about 20 minutes of me talking. And then we're going to move into into a q&a at the end, I have more than 20 minutes of content. I like to pack this stuff deep. So I'm going to skip through some bits. But if you want to know about it, ask me in the q&a. And we'll go back and we'll dive into that bit a little bit deeper. Cool. All right. So we're gonna roughly go through why are we even talking about this, my four tips for balancing the work. And then like I said, we'll go into q&a, and group discussion. But from a personal point of view, I've said this a couple times, I'm Andrew Murphy, and the longtime father of a flock of chickens, or as we call them in Australia chucks. And I'm in the short term father of a flock of humans, as we call them in Australia, financial burdens. And I love travel. And I love getting around and seeing the world. What my professional point of view, like I said, I've been in this industry for about 20 years at this point, I've been leading tension about 15. And I was a bad leader, a really, really bad leader. And like James said, I there wasn't a lot of resources out there when I when I moved into this. And so I had to learn things the hard way. And about a few years ago, I decided that I was going to make a change in my career, which was to put a focus on helping people become better tech leaders. Because like I said, the problem with making mistakes as a tech leader is you often make those mistakes on other people. And that's not fair on them. And we do a really, really bad job in this industry of helping people make that transition from individual contributor to leader. And I wanted to fix that so that the new leaders in our industry don't have to take the 15 years that I took to become the leader that I am today. And so I started training about six years ago, most recently started a company called tech leaders Launchpad, that solely focuses on helping tech leaders become better. As for why I started doing this presentation, this was an article in the the AFR the Australian Financial Review, which we can link to, but effectively, this this came out about halfway through last year, where a lot of companies are what I call compressing leadership. So Atlassian, for example, got rid of an entire level of engineering manager, management, which then meant that you had to choose between either effectively being 90%, IC, and 10%, leader, or 90%, leader and 10% IC. And it's a really, really tough choice between those. And it led to a lot of people kind of feeling this, this sensation, that how can I be a leader, if I have to spend most of my time coding? Or how can I stay true to being an engineer if I don't get on my toes at all. And this is a pattern that we're seeing across the industry, where people are just not recognising the reward that they can get from having leaders across all levels in their teams, and they're trying to compress leadership and take it out. I personally hate this. I think that there's there's roles for people to do this faster. However, some people are in this situation. And if you're in this situation, through no fault of your own, then hopefully you can learn something from the discussion that we're going to have today to help you cope with that. situation, and I commiserate for you being in there. And I hope I can I can help take off some of the stink on it. So I do a lot of one on one coaching and group coaching. And often people will come to me when they become a manager or a leader for the first time. And they'll say to me, should I just split my week 5050. In a Monday to Wednesday, lunchtime, I'm an icy and Wednesday lunchtime to 530 on Friday, I'm a leader. And that's how it works, isn't it? I can I can do a bit about? Well, no, that's not how it works. The issue with this is a lot of work is either proactive or reactive. And by proactive What I mean is work that you can schedule and plan out in the past, reactive work is responding to things that happen as they happen. And this approach assumes that all your work is productive, which is just simply not the case. For a lot of a lot of people. If you're a leader, you might have people coming to you with issues that are reactive, you might have systems that go down that are reactive, you might if you work in a startup or scale up, there might be a need to respond to an investment event or particular client issue. So there's always going to be reactive things that pop up. And so planning your work in this way of 5050 just is never going to work, you have to come up with a pattern and a system that's more responsive to your ways of working. And that's what we're going to talk about.
So the four things that we're going to touch on today of how to deal with this, this time management issue, Self Scheduling, looking after your own calendar yourself and taking control of it. conscious decision making does not defaulting into patterns of behaviour, just because they're the easy options, but actually really consciously deciding on where you spend your time and how you spend it. Delegation. What are the upsides and downsides of delegation? And how can you make a decision on if something should be delegated or not? And then self care? Because this stuff is hard. It's really hard. And if you don't look after yourself, how can you look after your team? And so those are the four things we're going to touch on that go through Self Scheduling. It's kind of back to this question again. Should I just flip my week? 5050? Well, no, but yet, No, you shouldn't, you shouldn't put your week 5050. But what you should be doing is you should be splitting your week into time for reactive stuff that happened, and also focused leadership. The problem with a lot of leadership work is that we have this stuff that pops up all the time that we're not able to respond to because we're too busy dealing with other things that have popped up. And we can't get to the longer term strategy work, because we're dealing with everything that pops up. And so you know, the number one tip that I have for you if you're struggling with time management, in this area of manage of leadership work but dicey work is book time in your calendar for leadership work. This can be things like coming up with strategy that can be prepared preparing for performance review that can be looking through, you know, a peer review that you want somebody to go through, it can be anything that is longer term impact, rather than short term reactionary. Now, the next question you're likely going to ask me is how much leadership time should I look at? This is where the next section conscious decision making goes in. And so we'll we'll touch on that in a second. The next question you're probably going to ask me is, well, if I booked an hour in my calendar, how do I make sure that I actually can spend that hour on leadership time. Now, this is where I have some tips for you. Which seem a little bit sneaky, but I'm sorry, sometimes we have to be a little bit sneaky. I often will book in a meeting with my boss. And the title of the meeting will be TPS reports. And I have three three warned my boss that if he ever sees a meeting called TPS reports, it's not a real meeting, and he can ignore it. And the reason why I do this is if somebody sees a meeting in your calendar, and you're the only person and it says, like, plan for performance reviews, that people are just going to ignore it, and they're just going to hit you up on Slack. They're going to message you, they're going to try and get hold of you. But if they see a meeting minutes, there's TPS report, and it's you and your boss. They're much less likely to disturb you. So this is how we can go about acting In our leadership time, because the only person that knows your calendar, the only person that knows your, your time needs and your time requirements and your handyman sees you. And so the only person that can protect your calendar is you. And you've got to take proactive steps, you've got to grab a hold of that calendar. Because feeling this sense of overwhelm, that often comes from too many things on our plate often comes from not spending time on the areas that make longer term progress, and only spending time on the things or the short term and reactionary. The next question you're going to probably ask me, is, well, what if there just is too much reactive stuff to do? What if I just cannot, I'm just too busy reacting to things. This is where the conscious decisions come in. Because we have to protect ourselves, we have to protect this time, we have to decide what we're doing in this. So that we can move some of the other stuff to the rest of our team. So the stuff that we do in our leadership time has to be truly truly valuable work. And the way we decide what is valuable to do in our leadership time, is the impact of that work. So often, there's that I'm a really keen believer on having clear definitions of words. Because by defining what a word means, it gives it gives us power to enable us to make decisions. And when I say impact the work what I'm meaning here is what are the outcomes of that work? Often event, often as a technical people, knowledge workers, we get fixated on outputs. How many lines of code have I written what feature have I added? How many PRs have I done this week, those are outputs. But those things are not valuable. lines of code are not valuable features in themselves are not valuable. It's the things that they enable, in other people's lives, that are the value. Those are the outcomes of those outputs. And the here I want you to apply the same lens, to your leadership work to make a decision on which things you can do in which things you shouldn't do. Don't focus on the output, focus on the out, doing performance reviews, feedback into it either to just the checkbox, I've got a tick, I'm just going to get the output of writing all of these performance reviews, that that's that the thing that I want, I want the output of writing all these reviews. But that's not the real truth. The real truth is that the act of doing those performance reviews is that people feel cared for people feel supported, people feel developed. And so they're more engaged, more interested, less likely to lead. And so this distinction and separation between the output that you're generating, and the outcome that that output gives you is the impact. And then that's how you make the decision on what to spend time on. And so this is, these are some examples, I'm not gonna go through all of them. These are some examples of things that have high impact that you can do in your leadership type, communication, and collaboration with everybody around you, both your team, your peers, your boss, or the teams, this is all hugely valuable stuff. continuous learning, making, making yourself better, making people feel recognised and giving them feedback as huge outcomes and a huge impact on that team. And working on automation and efficiency work. If you can invest two hours into something that saves your team 20 hours, that's a really good investment of time. Things you can consider adjusting or delegating. If you're building yourself strapped for time. I think it's like direct involvement in all your technical Pat, are you really the right person to be doing that? Or could somebody else do it? Low Impact meeting, we all get a lot of meetings on our calendar. And I'm a big believer in that if somebody can't tell you what they want from you in that meeting, just decline the meeting. Why do they want you there? What value are you going to add? If they cannot express that to you? Don't go just declined the meeting. If they can give you a description of the value that you add in that meeting on silico. Another option is if if they just want somebody from engineering there. That's a great example of something you can delegate to somebody else in helping to give them the opportunity to grow and to experience these things. Consider delegating ceremonies, if you're always wanting the retro or you're always wanting to stand up, how can you delegate those? How can you help your team empower themselves and gain some of that time back. Another thing is training and onboarding, often this stuff is, by default given to the tech lead. I'm actually a fan of not doing that I'm a fan of training and onboarding being given to junior and mid level engineers. Because what that does, is that forces those people to learn well enough to teach somebody else. And so it feels like the quick, easy decision is just to give the training and onboarding to the person with the most experience, but what you're doing there is you're focusing on the short term, outcome, not the long term outcome, by giving it to the more junior people, you're putting them in a place that forces them to grow, and forces them to question things, because they're gonna get asked questions from the new joiner, and they're gonna have to come up with the answers to those questions. And so it's a really great way of a getting some of your time back and be encouraging others to develop. And the same thing can also be true of recruitment. And although with recruitment, you probably don't want the really Junior member doing it. But maybe it's something you can, you know, give to seniors and have the juniors there supporting and learning.
So make conscious decisions on what you're doing in your leadership time. If you've blocked this time, and you've made it sacred, and you'll have these two hours on a Monday morning, do more of these things. Unless at least we can go through some of these in more detail. If you see one of these that you're like, Oh, I really want to double click on that in the q&a at the end, let me know and I can I can go into it in some more detail. And why shouldn't I do detailed data analysis etc. You can ask me those questions.
Next is delegation. everybody's favourite topic. This is a great quote. And so I do I do live streams. If you saw if you saw James posted about charity majors posts on communication, I just did a live stream of charity majors. I'm doing a live stream with Michael loss in in a few months. And I asked him the question, what, what's the one thing that if you could implant A thought, in every single engineering leader on the planet, what would be the thought that you would implant in their brains? straightaway, he said this phrase, Delegate until it hurts. Because this is the superpower of leadership. This is how you spend more time on the things that have more impact, and have the double benefit of helping your team grow. So making conscious decisions around delegation is really important. The problem with delegation is deciding what you should delegate. Should I delegate this thing I said that should show a delegate this other thing. I'm not going to go through this in too much detail. But using a tool and a framework to give decision making power to you around how you delegate is incredibly powerful. The one that I encourage new leaders to use it is called the Eisenhower matrix. So the Eisenhower matrix effectively separates work in two dimensions, its urgency, and its importance. Often these two words get conflated, but they are fundamentally different concepts. Urgency is time criticality. importance is impact. So for example, something can be urgent, but not important. Or it can be important, but not urgent. So say, for example, we do performance reviews in July, and we're sat here in January, doing the planning for those performance reviews, when the time and effort into building those matrix. Those matrices, doing all that work is not urgent, because we've got six months to do it. But it's still important. The impact that it makes and having a good performance review in our company is massive. And so it's still important, although it's not urgent. A customer wanting to phone you up and bitch about why a feature has been delayed is definitely urgent, because your phone is that on your desk ringing. Is it important? Potentially potentially not depends on the customer. And so, you know, deciding on whether something is urgent or not or whether something is important on a separate dimension and allows you to make conscious decisions about whether or not you should delegate. If something is both important and urgent, obviously, you need to respond to it straight away. So an example of this production has gone down. That is important. And it's urgent. Redefining the new CI CD pipeline to shave off 20% from the build time, it's probably not urgent, maybe important, if that 20% is really important. Is that really gonna save you the time? Is it worth it? If it is important? If it's not, it's not. So this splitting out of work into the dimensions of urgency, importance allows you to apply a framework to how you delegate things. The framework that I'm about to show you is a framework that I encourage new leaders to use. It might not be appropriate for you bear that in mind, if you're somebody who's been leading for five years, 10 years, you're probably going to look at this framework and go, No, that's not my for me, that's fine. I am not asking you to pick this framework. I'm asking you to pick a framework. And this is an example of one. So my, my suggestion for new leaders is anything important and urgent, typically can't wait for your leadership time needs to be dealt with straightaway. And so it kind of doesn't fit into the delegation framework, because you just need to do it needs to get done. Something that's important, but not urgent, as well, a new leader and we're growing and we're developing in our skills, these should be the focus of your leadership time. These things that have high impact to the company, but are not things that need to be dealt with urgently. As things that you should be scheduling in your in your 246 hours a week, little leadership time. Things that are urgent, and the not important. Often these are the things that make you feel busy. So these are the things that you know, we look at our calendar, we go Oh, my God, I've got all this stuff happening. And why am I so busy, I've got no time to do anything, when you actually break down what those things are nine times out of 10 that things are urgent but not important. And so these are the things for you to consider delegating to somebody else in your team, to help them learn the skills to help them develop, and to give you the time to do the things that are important, but not urgent. Ly Lastly, things that are not important and urgent, just don't do them. You know, this is this is things like scrolling social media, we probably shouldn't be doing it, we know we shouldn't be doing it, just don't do it. You know, get attending that meeting, because the person that runs it is is annoying, and you want to watch them fail because you know, they're gonna screw up their presentation, and you're gonna get a sense of satisfaction from watching this person screw up their presentation, just don't do it. It's not important. It's not urgent, focus your time elsewhere. Alright, so again, this framework might not be appropriate for you find one that is make conscious decisions, you're coming back to this concept again, and again, this is all about not defaulting into behaviour, giving yourself decision making frameworks that enable you to actively and consciously choose what you spend your time on. The Lastly, I want to finish on self care. Self Care is incredibly important. If you can't look after your yourself, how can you look after your team. We've all heard of the concept of put your own mask on first, you know, this is something they say if you're in an aeroplane, and the oxygen masks fall down. They often say if you're with children, put your own mask on first before you put on the mask of your child. And they say this because if you're struggling to look after yourself, how can you possibly look after your child? The same is true for leadership. This is a hard job. This is an emotionally challenging, stressful job. Especially if you're feeling the pressures of time. Especially if you're feeling like you've got demands to be the best individual contributor in the world and the best leader in the world. It's a really hard place to be. And so making sure you're taking the time out of your schedule, to focus on yourself. It's not an indulgence, it's not a sign of weakness. looking after yourself is not an indulgence. It's a requirement of being a leader. If you fail in your resilience, if you fail in your self care, you're not going to be able to help your team cope with their challenge. And so it can feel like it's an indulgence that why am I looking after myself when my team is struggling? But it's by looking at yourself. You can help your team to stop struggle. It's a feedback loop about the positive virtuous feedback loop Not a negative not not a negative feedback loop. It's also not a sign of weakness. In the past, there's been this idea that you just need to tough it out and you just need to have more grit. And, you know, I'm sure we've all worked in companies before where you know that any sign of any mental health issues was just seen as a sign of weakness. Thankfully, unfortunately, this is a change that's happening in in the wider culture, but especially so in in our industry is this type of stuff is starting to be taken more and more seriously. And it's not a sign of weakness anymore. If my last role, I had about eight engineering managers that they poured it into me, if one of those engineering managers said to me, Hey, Murph, I need to take a day off, because I just I can't cope today. I just like shot I got you, I got you. That's the way that I would react to it, you know, thought of mine would go well, why, you know, that's that's thankfully not the the industry we're in anymore. So what are some of the things you can do to look after yourself? Number one in this is to set realistic expectations for yourself. If you're always trying to set a goal that is completely unachievable and falling flat on yourself flat on your face, you're never, you're never going to feel good about yourself. setting achievable, realistic expectations is important, doesn't mean you can't stretch yourself, doesn't mean you can't can't set a goal that is slightly more than you think you can achieve. But don't say I'm going to be Cgo in five years, when you've just graduated university, it's unlikely to happen.
Really small, basic thing that made a big difference to me and I joked about this in the beginning, but take your lunch, break it, take your lunch break away from your computer, don't just sit at your desk, eating your microwave meal, you know, go go somewhere else and do it go outside, see nature, you know, go hug a tree somewhere, it genuinely helps to feel like you're decompressing and disconnecting unable to cope better. Another one that's really important, for me personally, is establishing clear boundaries between your work life and your personal life. I didn't do this in my early career, mostly because I was working in startups that I had equity stakes in. And so you know, the the boundary between work and personal life really is gets pretty blurry. But I found my mental health suffered hugely by having that that line be blowing. When I started this most recent business, I started it just after my son was born. And one thing that I said to my wife, you know, when we were talking about this idea of being starting a new business, and working in this area was I want time to spend with my son. And you know, I want to know that when I'm home. I'm home. And when I'm at work, I'm at work. So even though I have an office at home, I am I rent an office that I go to. But I'm fortunate that I can do that. But I have this clear separation. I take Monday mornings off to spend with my son, I don't work Monday until 12 o'clock. I take a lot of Tuesday off to spend with him. And this is a choice that I make. And thankfully I'm in a fortunate place where I can do that. But what are the things you can do to establish those clear boundaries. Lastly, and again, if you want to double click on any of these in the q&a at the end, we can lastly celebrate achievement. We are so focused on the future that we forget to celebrate the past and the present. Often we are just thinking what the next biggest thing what the next thing I can do. And we forget that what we've achieved is immense and humongous and should be celebrated out of being motivated for the future and celebrating the past is having this weird cognitive dissonance. If you've not heard the term cognitive dissonance before, basically it means holding two completely incompatible thoughts in your head at the same time. Because ideally, what we want to do and the analogy to describe this is imagine, imagine that you go on hikes, who hiked here. I love a good hike getting out in nature. Yeah. Do you use like a trail app where you can kind of see the trail and see where you are? No, no, I do. I do. I love the trail app. I love I'm a data folder. So I my location is tracked every minute of every day. Because I just love the fact that I can just say oh well guy, actually really good for tactic than finding out where you were when you look at everything anyway. So if you use trail apps One of the most demotivating things you can do is to look at the trail app. When you're you think, Oh, I'm, I'm must be halfway through this hike by now I must be near the end of the hike, and the look at your trail app and you realise you're 10% of the way through it. That's really demotivating. The cognitive dissonance I want you to start thinking about though, is to try and be both proud of, of the trail that you've hiked already, and excited about the trail that's in front of you. These are two really hard thoughts to have in your brain at the same time, but they're essential for looking after yourself. Because if you look at the trail, you've already hacked and go, that's not good enough. It's demotivating. If you look at the trail in front of you and go that too big, it's demotivating. So trying to find that cognitive dissonance and be happy with what you've achieved and celebrate it, but still be motivated for the future. And is the mindset that I encourage you to think of. Okay, that's it. That's my talk. Thank you very much. There's a few QR codes here. If you want to learn more about definitely there's Launchpad, you can scan that first QR code. If you want to follow me on LinkedIn. That's the last QR code. I do lots of posts on, on leadership type stuff. And I do regular bought that the live stream with tech leaders throughout the industry. You can find that on my LinkedIn. If you want to have a chat with me about this type of stuff or anything tech leader related at scam that middle QR code. And thank you so much transition to q&a.
James Dong 36:35
Thank you, Andrew so much. I really liked that cheeky tip about the booking time with your boss. That was great, because you're totally right, people just ignore calendar invites all the time. So I liked it some q&a ended fans, but feel free to drop some stuff in the chat. We'll do a quick q&a Before doing some breakout sessions. The first question this is from Nick Tolentino. Do you believe with all these tips and tricks that a true balance is possible between icy work and management work? Or will it always kind of feel like a compromise?
Andrew Murphy 37:05
Leadership in general is a compromise. Leadership is always a compromise there the one of the things that you realise the when you transition into leadership and the higher and higher you get into leadership is there's always more work than time. They're just they're just your to do list is only ever getting longer, not shorter. And the job of becoming a leader and the job of moving up the ladder of leadership is less about finding ways to get your entire to do list done. And more about finding those things in a to do list and prioritising them based on the impact that they have. You can imagine that you know the CTO of an organisation, there's just, there's just no time they can ever tick everything off in that stillness. So elite leadership in general is a compromise. The way that I'd encourage you to think about it is to make conscious decisions about what's the most impactful thing you can do next. Sometimes, if you're in this, if you're in this in this transition role, where you're doing some ICU work and to manage your work, sometimes the most impactful thing you can do is I see where sometimes it's manager, it's leadership work. And making that conscious decision is how we make sure we're doing things right by our team.
James Dong 38:28
That's great. If you had to give a percentage, like an average percentage or estimate or range or whatever. What do you think is a good amount of icy work to aim for if you're the manager of a small engineering team? And this question comes from Tom?
Andrew Murphy 38:42
Sure, it depends. I'll give you I'll give you the model that I use. So I used to work in consultancies. And one of the things consultancies are really, really strong on is working out what percentage of billable hours somebody is, for obvious reasons. And so I used to use a model that I'll share with you that was appropriate for the consultancies that I work in, but that might not be appropriate for you. So the model that I used to use is for every mid level and above person in your team 5% of your time should be spent supporting them. For every junior person in your team 10% of your time should be spent supporting them. So say for example, you had three mid levels and a junior, that's 25% of your time, that you should be solely dedicated on compiling that. That was the model that I used in consultancies that worked well, but it's going to change massively depending on who you are and who your team is. If your team needs a lot of technical advice and support, you might find yourself doing that a lot. If your team doesn't need that and that will be self sufficient. You must find yourself spending more time on on leadership that stuff. So you come up with a model that works for you. But recognise that that model is going to change depending on who As you grow and develop and as your team grows and develops
James Dong 40:04
alright, we'll take one more question from Sylvie, what excites what energises you in the tech leadership space at the moment.
Andrew Murphy 40:11
Oh, I love that. I love the fact that this is this is something we talk about as an industry. When I started 15 years ago, the idea of getting together and talking about leadership stuff, you would be laughed out of the room. And now 15 years later, we've got meetups like this one. You know, I'm one of the organisers of CTO school Australia, an entire meetup dedicated to helping people. I'm excited about the fact that we are talking about this morning. Another thing that I'm excited about is the influx of people from non traditional backgrounds. When I started my career, 20 years ago, everybody in my university course, was a carbon copy of me, a middle class white male, from, you know, a relatively affluent background. That was what the industry was 20 years ago. And I'm really excited to see that shift and see that change, because that's going to give a whole heap of new perspectives to leadership.
James Dong 41:22
But thank you so much. I'm going to transition this to the group discussion, but to stop recording
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