1 Quality to be a Rockstar Engineer
What's holding you back?
Have you ever wondered what sets successful engineers apart from the rest? How do they consistently deliver exceptional results and navigate challenges with ease? The secret lies in their ability to cultivate an ownership mindset.
In today's fast-paced and competitive world, developing this mindset is crucial for success. Every company encourages its employees to adopt it, recognizing its importance in driving excellence and achieving goals. But do we truly understand the essence of ownership? Are we fully embracing its true meaning?
Ownership mindset is based on two verbs: Identify and Act. In this article, I will address the question of what might be holding you back from embracing this mindset. Also discuss the key traits that successful engineers possess.
Of course to fix problems you need to build an eye to identify them. We can get lost in the day-to-day churn, and not realize what is slowing us down or if something is truly a problem or just a minor inconvenience. Instead of empathizing, we may simply blame an unhappy customer.
Look for things that affect team's productivity and product's reliability, such as:
Receiving too many in-actionable alerts
Performing manual tasks too frequently, which can stress the team
Shipping bugs frequently due to inadequate testing
Having an overly complex system that makes trivial changes difficult, and so on.
Watch out for workplace relationship problems; these are great opportunities to exercise your leadership skills:
Is a customer facing repeated issues?
Is your sister team asking for the same thing over and over again?
Does your leadership not quite understand your team's vision?
Is a teammate struggling? Can you work with your manager to help the teammate?
While most of us are good at identifying problems, we often fail to take action.
Excuses to not act
There are several reasons that we tell ourself
“The problem may feel too difficult to tackle.”
"How can I fix this? I'm not the tech lead or a manager."
The customer may be difficult to work with and does not “listen” to us.
“The leadership does not get it!”
It's easy to settle for the status quo and avoid challenging ourselves. But later on, you may regret it when we see an effective engineer push for the same idea and succeed in executing it.
You know that startup ideas alone don't sell; it's the execution that counts. It doesn't matter what ideas you propose or suggest in meetings. What matters is how you can take those ideas and translate them into a deployed solution.
How to act
Break down the problem: If the problem feels difficult, ask why is that? Can you stage the problem and have achievable sub-milestones?
Customer won't listen: Are you the one not listening? Perhaps they expect or assume your API to do XYZ, but you are forcing them to do ABC. Can you organize a meeting to understand their use case better? Maybe even enlighten your team.
Leadership does not buy in: Why is that? Is the company focused on other, more important problems?
‘Act’ does not always mean building a fix. Having an ownership mindset also requires you to know when to slow down or accept trade-offs. Don't push for a solution for every problem without considering the trade-offs. So, balance is crucial:
Don’t compromise your ongoing commitments and deliverables
Avoid stepping on someone else's toes and give them the room to deliver
Sometimes it is necessary to prioritize time-to-market and build quicker “hacks”
Some problems may be too difficult and expensive to build, and there is an opportunity cost involved.
Lastly, focus your time on critical problems where you can make progress, rather than getting stuck on proposing solutions.
Got more tips to embrace ownership mindset? Share them below in the comment section.
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