Managing a widely distributed team

Managing a widely distributed team

Companies more and more embrace working in a distributed environment. While it allows for attracting talent and working with great people around the world, it also means it comes with new challenges.

Based on my experience as an engineer manager at GitHub for a team of 20 people across 3 continents in 7 countries, 6 states in the US and 7 timezones I would love to share the things we do to build a strong and cohesive team. Would like to share how we embrace asynchronous workflows where we can, use synchronous time we do have very effectively and meet up in person regularly as well.

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Dirkjan Bussink

June 28, 2018
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  1. Managing a widely distributed team Dirkjan Bussink @dbussink

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  3. Senior engineering manager Principal engineer

  4. Why?

  5. First some context

  6. 28 people

  7. Original from 5 continents

  8. From 11 countries

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  11. !"#$%& ' (

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  14. Psychological safety https://rework.withgoogle.com/blog/five-keys-to-a-successful-google-team/

  15. Meet in person

  16. Regular cadence

  17. Use the time together well

  18. Long time strategy

  19. Team structure

  20. Iterate on collaboration processes

  21. No day to day development

  22. Do non work activities

  23. Grab dinner together

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  27. Keep talking

  28. Continue to build trust in 1:1s

  29. Talk to people regularly

  30. Non work video chats

  31. Virtual water-cooler

  32. Be timezone aware

  33. Asynchronous communication

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  36. No instant gratification

  37. Unblock others

  38. Don’t block yourself

  39. Over-communicate

  40. Use restraint

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  42. Hardly anything is urgent

  43. “Durch Einfach Liegen Lassen Erledigt”

  44. Use timezone spread

  45. Recap

  46. Everyone is distributed Work hard on building team bonds Enable

    asynchronous workflows Use the power of distributed teams