In June 2020 I joined Lemonade as Engineering Team Lead. Though I had past experience as an Engineering Manager, it was my first time joining a company in a management position. In addition to the common fears of starting a new job, and onboarding in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, joining as a manager raised unfamiliar concerns and self-doubts.
It didn’t change in a day, but week after week, month after month, my concerns dissolved, and self-doubt was replaced with newfound confidence. Looking back on the past 9 months, I’d like to share the approach and steps I took, which, I believe, helped me succeed.
Before joining the company, a friend, who’s also kind of a mentor, gave me invaluable advice: “Use the first three months to learn as much as you can about the organization and its culture, decision-making methodologies, processes, ownership, development cycle, and more. Observe, ask many questions, document, but keep feedback and suggestions for changes to yourself.”
If you knew me, you’d know that this isn’t my nature, yet I followed his advice. I resisted the urge of pointing out problems that seemed crucial because I knew I didn’t have the full picture. It’s a good thing I did, because many times, these problems turned out to be marginal when I became aware of the greater context. I kept reminding myself not to try to fix things that are not broken, simply because I’m used to doing them differently.