I can do anything but not everything

You can do anything but not everything
Photo by Markus Spiske / Unsplash

We all have times in our life or career when we go through significant changes and transformations. How would you manage such situations?

The story of my transition last year @2021

One year ago, when I moved to my new position as an Engineering Manager in Atlassian, I had to figure out a strategy to ensure I could go through and adapt to changes successfully. The learning curve is a known part of every transition, in my experience, but it will have very different characteristics for different situations.

For me, who always worked in the Web development area, moving to a platform team and leading it was an exciting challenge. In Atlassian, I have been leading the PAAS team (platform as service), which is a complex and challenging (for good) team. Besides, as a technology leader, Atlassian has a very different way of working and culture from other companies to adapt to, which I am enjoying. Different technology stack from what I was familiar with was another thing to adjust to. Also, Engineering Manager is a unique and challenging job that needs a variety of skillsets, including people skills and coaching, problem-solving, tech skills, prioritisations, time management, and so on.  

I will tell you how I managed it successfully in the next section, but before that, I will give you a bit of context on what the PAAS team is in Atlassian(and in general). The majority of Atlassian developers don't utilise cloud services directly. My team, known as Micros, provides abstract services and features for developers to empower them to use Cloud services consistently and safely. By using Micros, developers benefit from high availability, reliability, security, log aggregation, Monitoring, scalability out of the box and they can focus on building their business logic.

What approach did I use for successful onboarding?

As I said before, the transition phase that I went through required my proper planning and great support from my manager and my direct reports, which I appreciate.

From my side,  Essentialism was a disciplined, systematic approach that I have chosen. Essentialism is for determining where our highest point of contribution lies. It is about deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many.

I designed a roadmap to control my activities over the last year to ensure I focused on A) the right things that I need to learn,B) Transferring my developed skills into my new role to reach a break-even point and values.

The roadmap had three essences:

  • Exploring the options that I could focus
  • Eliminate options. Trade-offs are inevitable in this phase as you cannot do everything simultaneously. I needed to say no to a few things to be effective in others. It involves self-reflection to see what you need to do at this stage? Manage your emotions and focus on the right things. I started eliminating non-essentials. Those non-essentials at that stage might be my essentials today. Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.
  • Execution. I invested my energy in the activities that I selectively picked. Having a roadmap for 30 days, 90 days, and one year helped me realise what I don't know and where I can apply my strengths to find a balance. Some factors are essential in this phase, like having self-discipline, time-management, knowing how to learn and last but not least was asking for support and help.

What is my plan for the rest of this year @2022?

During Covid, everyone learned that we could plan for our life and work but be flexible as unknowns might happen. That is the key to resiliency.

I gained a lot of experience in leadership and managing technical engineering teams that deliver high scalable systems and products. I experimented, failed, learned and applied my learnings to improve the environment around me and develop new skills.

Rehearsing that learning and digging deeper into some areas will develop better competency. Also, prioritising meaningful community activities and sharing what I have learned from my recent experiences sounds fulfilling.