Beyond the Usual, Passive DEI Efforts in Tech

Blog:On Focus: Product Engineering

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Manny Becerra as a child

April 2016

I thought I'd continue where I left off last month along the lines of creating and sustaining a high-performing team and inclusive workspace by letting information flow. Another incredient that I have found helpful and valuable to both me and my team's success is: focus.

As a leader, provide your team with a clear goal or path toward success, and be transparent about what you're aiming to accomplish, why you're doing this and by when.

Minimize distractions

There's a lot of information flowing in-and-out of our lives on any given day that it can distract from what's most important to accomplish right now. For instance, if you add-up every few minutes you're distracted from what's most important to accomplish because of a text message, a news notification or a co-worker swinging-by to shoot the breeze or request scope creep in a project, it adds up to a noticeable amount.

Be accommodating yet ruthlessly focused on the big picture.

Whether you're a contributor on a team or leading a team, it's important to reduce the distractions—even the things that may seem important, but perhaps not important at the very moment they show up on your screen or in your physical surroundings.

A few things to consider for minimizing distractions in your product engineering environment:

  • Periodically mute your notifications on-screen (e.g. on your laptop and phone), but filter your notifications so the key people in your life (personally and professionally) can still reach you if needed
  • As a leader, establish processes with your direct team and cross-functional teams so everyone can still feel heard, and when necessary, have a way to escalate an actual urgent request to take appropriate, immediate action on; otherwise, general requests have a way of getting into a bucket for review and prioritization at a later date
  • As a leader, provide your team with a clear goal or path toward success, and be transparent about what you're aiming to accomplish, why you're doing this and by when
  • As a contributor, ask your leader, if its' unclear, for your team's near and long term goals (prior bullet) and for a clear process for taking in requests (two bullets above) so you have a way, for example, to respond to stakeholder drive-bys in a manner that is still customer service oriented yet doesn't pull you away from something else more important at the moment
  • Keep meetings to a reasonable minimum. Don't have meetings for the sake of having meetings; have a clear objective for what needs to be accomplished, otherwise, it can be an expensive group gathering that may not add value or move the needle toward your end-goal.

Recharge; enjoy the ride and celebrate the small-to-big milestones. It's good—needed!—to kickback and enjoy the fruits of your and your teammates' hardwork with some fun distractions.

With all that said:

  1. Be accommodating, or flexible as change is constant in all of our lives, yet be ruthlessly focused on the big picture. When you can minimize distractions, yet work in an interdependent way, and lead and participate with compassiongreat things can happen.
  2. Remember: you're building products for people, which can impact their lives in various, impactful ways. Your workplace environment and processes shouldn't compromise people's quality of life at work nor in the community at-large for the sake of timelines.

Lastly, recharge; enjoy the ride and celebrate the small-to-big milestones. It's good—needed!—to kickback and enjoy the fruits of your and your teammates' hardwork with some distractions so you're ready-to-go for the next go-around.

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Manny Becerra as a child

I am human, a father, and a problem solver: an inclusive tech and people leader with a passion and proven track-record in recruiting and leading compassionate, productive teams—remote and on-site—within a continuous learning culture. My teams and I champion usable, accessible digital products and online experiences. My work, passion and values also intersect with advising small businesses and political campaigns, outdoor and education advocacy, community building, and amplifying voices from historically marginalized communities. Learn more about Manny

I operate from a place of compassion, possibility and imagination. My work and efforts share a common goal: create a better, sustainable and equitable world by building inclusive communities, products & experiences.