OKRs: First Steps for Crushing Your Objectives and Key Results

At a Glance - What are OKRs? If you've arrived at this post, you've probably heard of OKRs but maybe you're looking for a bit more of an introduction to them. Not to worry! We'll keep this light and practical for getting started. OKRs are a framework for helping define, communicate, and measure progress towards goals. Their intention is to not be specifically top-down, but instead there's goal setting and transparency that works both ways. Objectives, the 'O' in OKRs, are essentially single sentence that communicates what you’re trying to achieve. These should drive the point home at a high level, and there's nothing wrong with making them feel exciting. Key Results, the 'KR' part of OKRs, are the metrics that you will be using to gauge how successful you are to achieving your objective. Usually you group about 3-5…

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Engineering Manager – What’s Expected in the Role?

This is a question that I see get asked all of the time and I figured I'd chime in on my perspective on it. Specifically, this is with the perspective of a software engineering manager in a tech organization. So, what are the primary responsibilities of an engineering manager at a tech company? Well before I dive in, I'll explain my background and then I'll offer up my perspective about the key parts to an engineering manager role. My Background as an Engineering Manager First off, here's full disclosure that I have only been an engineering manager at two different companies. However with that said, I have been an engineering manager at two extremely different types of organizations for just under a decade now. My role at Magnet Forensics as an engineering manager started off as a team-leadership role when…

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One on One Evolution

Background I'm a "middle manager" where I work, but that means a whole bunch of things. My everyday tasks primarily consist of programming, but I do a bunch of work to interface with other departments and teams, and I play a role in managing people on... well, the "people" side of things. For the latter part, I refer to that as people leadership. I think it's pretty easy to look at some of the aspects of people leadership and dismiss them as "fluffy" or needless... I consider myself a logical/technical thinker, so I have that frame of mind sometimes. However, I do see the value in actually being able to support my team so that they can operate at the best of their abilities. I try to find ways to do that without it seeming to them like I'm doing "fluffy leadership things",…

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Continuous Improvement – One on One Tweaks (Pt. 2)

Continuing With Continuous Improvement I wrote about continuous improvement before and how I've been trying to tie that into my leadership role through changes to my one on one process. To recap, at our organization we try to roll continuous improvement into most things that we do. We're well aware that we're not going to get things perfect the first time, so as long as we have a process in place to learn, reflect, and adapt, then we can make changes to better our situation. It's something that's ongoing and it doesn't really have an end. So long as your organization is growing and changing over time, or the environment in which your organization is changing over time, having continuous improvement baked into your culture is key to success. Previously, I mentioned that at Magnet Forensics I hold regular one…

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Continuous Improvement – One on One Tweaks

Continuous Improvement - Baby Steps! Our development team at Magnet Forensics focuses a lot on continuous improvement. It's one of the things baked into a retrospective often performed in agile software shops. It's all about acknowledging that no system or process is going to be perfect and that as your landscape changes, a lot of other things will too. The concept of continuous improvement isn't limited to just the software we make or the processes we put in place for doing so. You can apply it to anything that's repeated over time where you can measure positive and negative changes. I figured it was time to apply it to my leadership practices. The One on One I lead a team of software developers at Magnet, but I'm not the boss of any of them. They're all equally my peers and…

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Leadership: What Does It Mean? – Weekly Article Dump

Leadership Everyone has their own variation of what leadership means. For me, leadership means empowering others to accomplish their goals and providing assistance when they need it. There were a few articles that came up on LinkedIn this week that I wanted to share with everyone and discuss how they fit into my perspective on leadership. Articles Does Your Team Work With You Or For You?: Kwame Manu-Antwi opens up the article in an interesting fashion. When I read the title of the article, I figured this was going to be the typical leadership vs management debate. However, Kwame goes into describing a scenario where he had a humbling experience from one of his team that made some sacrifices for him. This was truly an example of working for him. The entire second half of the article shares a bunch of…

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Happy St. Patty’s Day – Weekly Article Dump

Happy St. Patty's Day! I hope everyone who was celebrating St. Patrick's Day was able to not only have fun but stay safe doing so. Of course, when there is drinking associated with a holiday it can be easy to get carried away. It's always a great idea to have driving arrangements or the option to sleep at a friend's place set up before you head out to celebrate. This year I was able to celebrate with a handful of my university friends that I don't get to see as often as I'd like. I haven't been drinking much at all now for nearly half a year, so I stuck to my one Irish coffee to meet my liquor allowance. We all had a blast discussing where our lives have taken us so far, and it's great to see everyone…

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Snow Tubing with Team Magnet – Weekly Article Dump

Snow Tubing First off... If you haven't ever gone snow tubing, get off your computer and get to your nearest snow tubing park. Now that you're back from that, we're all on the same page. Friday was another one of Magnet Forensics' staff events and we were fortunate enough to go tubing at Chicopee Tube Park. I hadn't been snow tubing before--only water tubing--and I haven't even been on a ski hill or anything for years. To be honest, snow tubing to me seemed like a bit of a glorified crazy-carpet experience which would be fun, but get boring after a couple of runs. I'll be the first to admit I was dead wrong. Snow tubing was probably the most awesome way for the entire Magnet family to cut loose this quarter. Most people either love or hate the snow,…

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Recognition: One of Team Magnet’s Masterminds

Background At Magnet Forensics, I lead an awesome team of people with the mission of creating forensics software to help investigators around the world solve crimes. We're stacked with incredible people--and not only on the team I'm on, but company-wide. We do a great job of recognizing our achievements as an organization and as a team, but also on an individual level. If someone has gone above and beyond, we don't keep that a secret. I've been trying to make more of a conscious effort to recognize the people I work with, especially in ways that are unique to my own style. I think recognizing people in person is important, but you also need to consider your setting. Sometimes recognition in a public forum isn't actually appreciated or isn't nearly as effective as appreciating in a one-on-one setting. I find…

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Article Dump #24 – Weekly Article Dump

Article Dump #24 Welcome to the 24th issue of my (nearly) weekly article dumps. I don't have a theme or an update this week, so it's kept pretty short. I hope you find the following articles interesting though! Leave me a comment if you have any opinions on these Articles The 7 Values That Drive IDEO: In this article, the CEO of IDEO Tim Brown talks about the various values that his organization embraces to have a creative culture. Some of the ideas in the slides seem really high level or like generic fluff, but try thinking about what they would mean in your organization. It's one thing to glance at IDEO's list and say "Yeah, yeah... That's nice..." but when you actually think about how that fits in with your organization, you might actually realize you don't embody those values. Do…

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