Over our years of managing engineering teams, we’ve found one thing remains constant: Engineers are most effective when given the space to build. There are three guiding principles we follow to achieve this goal.
1. Thorough Handoffs
It’s essential to start a project on the right foot. That means having a clear, concise, and comprehensive handoff from design to engineering. No guessing games, no ambiguous requirements—just clear directives. This foundation allows our team to spend less time clarifying and more time coding. We use two primary rituals to achieve this goal:
- Loom Documentation Before any handoff: we make sure that a feature or task is well-documented. We’ve found that recording videos on Loom creates a fantastic reference point. Not only does it save us time documenting, but it provides an evergreen visual of our intention at that time.
- Figma Tour: We also bring our engineers into Figma and walk them through the designs screen by screen. This allows engineers to absorb the UX and UI, leading to valuable discussions about interactions.
2. Weekly Syncs Focused Only on Work
Engineers, like all of us, despise meetings that could have been emails. To honor this, we hold one weekly sync that focuses on priorities, blockers, and next steps. Nothing else. If alternative topics need attention, we schedule another meeting. Having this one meeting ensures we have a designated space to collaborate. But not the factory-farmed, “We hold daily stand-ups!” collaboration, we’re talking free-range, all natural collaboration.
- Focus on priorities: We keep our syncs efficient by sticking to a strict agenda. We don’t deviate to talk about another feature or a conversation we had that morning. We stay dialed in on the task at hand for this group of engineers.
3. Let them Cook!
Dictating ‘how’ people should work stifles creativity and demoralizes a team. We trust our engineers to decide the best approach to solve a problem. Heck, we’re paying them all that money! Let’s leverage their expertise and make them owners of the product, not only doers.
We also try to keep them in the problem solving mindset. Which is reflect in points 1-2 above but it manifests in most of the PMing we do. We focus on documenting and engaging with stakeholders so our teams can focus on high ROI activities.
- Engineers write task tickets: As part of our product cycle, we write epics and feature tickets and our engineers write task tickets. We focus on the macro, like defining requirements and ensure proper documentation. Then, our engineers can focus on execution, such as what framework to use and how to split up the work.
These rituals have allowed us to cultivate an environment built on trust and respect. Respect for one’s time and desire to deliver awesome work. We hope these tools can integrate into your product practices!