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Team Building

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MeetUp talk: Building a Tech Culture at Medidata

As part of the TechHeads meetup on 30th July I gave talk titled – Building a Tech Culture at Medidata. It was followed by a YouTube Live Q&A.

A tech culture can be hard to define and even harder to build. My talk covers some of the approaches used to build a tech culture at Medidata. These include a common mission, core principles, and other initiatives to encourage making decisions and learning together.

Here is the talk:

The live recording that includes Q&A is also available here.

Thank you to Duncan Goldie, Woodrow Mercer Group, and Alex Frois from Pusher for making this possible.

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TL;DR – Bill Walsh, an ex-NFL coach, had a leadership approach that transformed the success of the San Francisco 49ers. His ‘Standard of Performance’ covers a wide range of leadership traits that apply across industries. Each point offers learning relevant to leading tech teams today.

There’s no hiding from the fact that results are important. If release targets or customer subscription and retention numbers are not met jobs could be at risk. However, as counterintuitive as it sounds, solely focusing on results will probably have the opposite effect!

“Concentrate on what will produce results rather than on the results, the process rather than the prize.”

Bill Walsh was an NFL coach whose advanced leadership transformed the San Francisco 49ers from the worst sports franchise to a legendary dynasty. The Score Takes Care Of Itself details Bill’s take on leadership which can apply to any industry not only on the football… Continue reading

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We talk about culture a lot, in books, talks, meetings, it’s a major focus area for companies. We start initiatives to build our culture but, at the same time, we want to let the culture grow organically through the people. For this to happen there has to be a solid foundation for the people to feed on. Trustful teams are the common requisite, but there is another ingredient that has to be considered.

As important as culture is, it can be difficult to describe. I like the description – “Culture is every decision you make” – I wish I could remember who said this but it’s true. It’s a scary reality that everything we do has an effect on the culture! This applies even more to leaders as we are being watched whether we like it or not and the culture changes around us based on what people see leaders… Continue reading

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incivility – rude or unsociable speech or behaviour.

This 15 minute TED talk by Christine Porath explains how incivility can have drastic effects on the teams and culture. She shares some powerful research showing the true cost incivility has but also simple steps on how we can avoid it by thanking people, sharing credit, listening attentively, humbly asking questions, acknowledging others, and smiling. I recommend watching…

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Radical Candor by Kim Scott is one of my top recommended reads for leaders. For any leader or those aspiring to be it’s packed with great advice around building relationships and should challenge or direct how we do things.

This blog is simply to highlight some of the areas that jumped out at me so there are plenty of quotes with some thoughts of my own.

Relationships and building trust

Whether we like it or not we are in the results business, companies survive or fail based on their success. But managers whose priority is on the results often miss the biggest factor to success which is building relationships with the team.

“Bosses guide a team to achieve results.”

A manager’s responsibilities revolve around guidance, team-building, results. They each interlink and are dependent on each other if there is a weak link somewhere it can impact in other areas e.g.… Continue reading

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Some blogs I recommend reading from this month…

How to Manage an Employee Who’s Having a Personal Crisis
Whether we like it or not people in our teams will go through difficult times, this covers good points for supporting those people in the right way.

The 4 questions you should stop asking during your one-on-one meetings
I ask the “How’s it going?” quite often, even “How’s life?” too, these are questions people expect when starting a 1:1, particularly the first. They are a good way to start, but then be open how the person responds and flow from there. You will have questions prepared and variation is important, where this blog can help. Questions that are specific helps to avoid those vague answers.

8 Tips for Being a Good Tech Lead
You may not be hands-on coding anymore but there are still helpful points in this blog. I like the… Continue reading

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Mentoring can be wide-ranging from offering guidance to advice and support. Approaches can vary, from the very informal to a fully documented structured program. Different approaches have their merits, the correct one will depend on the goal of the mentorship and the people involved. It could be said that any approach is better than none, but that’s not true if a particular style of mentorship harms the mentor-mentee relationship.

Before starting any form of mentorship there needs to be a clear understanding of the reasons for doing it. Only once these are understood can a program be put together. Good mentorship needs to careful thought as no one program will suit everyone. It sounds a lot of effort, that’s because it is! Without the effort, the true value of any guidance may be missed. But there is so much to gain, this is one reason why I believe that mentoring… Continue reading