Quote of the Month December 2021 – Building Trust

I’ve been fortunate in my recent roles, having built up enough track record, that the organization leadership has trusted me, allowed me the time and space to do this type of work. With that trust comes a high expectation and responsibility to deliver, so to sustain it you need to do what you say you will and do it well.

One thing I’ve learned that helps nurture that trust is being transparent about your work. I talk and write about what I’m working on, what challenges or threats there are, what my next steps are. I like this work to be discoverable, as well as just accessible, and my preferred medium for this is markdown files in a company repository. I want important discussions around tradeoffs and direction, and certainly decisions, to have a URL.

At GitHub, I enjoyed a culture of writing proposals down and having that work be discoverable by anyone in the company. Because my team and I valued our autonomy to build so much, but had an awareness of our vulnerability, we often went above and beyond with this. We would share written proposals, design documents, learnings from spikes, records of decisions, roadmaps, estimates, how we arrived at those estimates, everything. The downsides included sometimes getting unsolicited ‘drive-by’ criticism, which can be unpleasant. The upsides included strengthening our own approach through having to articulate it and often adapt it.

Building that trust enabled me and my teammates to do even more: to have more autonomy, to take on more responsibility and to build more challenging work. People had seen our process work. When we said we’d do a thing, they knew not just that we would deliver but that others could see it happen and learn along with us. This is how we can have nice things.

Source: Building Bridges as a Technical Leader, Keavy McMinn, https://keavy.com/work/building-bridges/