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Leading an Effective Engineering Team

Speaker: Leslie Martinich, founder, Competitive Focus

Leading an effective engineering organization requires not only the right processes, but also the tools and ability to communicate, collaborate, and negotiate.


We will discuss tools for gaining support for change, winning political backing from other leaders, reaching consensus, and defining an action plan to communication with the organization. 

Everyone will leave with plenty of ideas as well as some useful prizes to take back to your teams!

IDEAS from participants:

People Management


Cares more about the people than themselves

Good Coach

Balances work with life

Provides flexible work hours

Practices “tough love”

Has an open mind and doesn’t judge

Provides a reasonable work schedule

Provides a skip-level open door policy (no negative consequences for visiting with your boss’s boss about some issue)

Shows an interest in a person’s career and development

Constantly grows people


Performance Management

Hires the “A” team and takes care of them.

Identifies people’s strengths

Meticulous at selecting people

Has good resource management skills (adapts to changing environments quickly and effectively)

Celebrates success regularly

Regularly praises accomplishments within the group

Publicly rewards outstanding performance

Gives raises

Provides big bonuses

Recognizes and rewards people

Encourages and supports innovation

Corrects and guides to produce the best possible results (asks the right questions)

Provides feedback on performance

Demonstrates excellence

Gives honest appraisal feedback with constructive ways to improve

Sets achievable and stretch goals for the team

Holds regular performance reviews with one-on-one feedback sessions



Clearly articulates objectives, strategies and tactics for the business, and updates those regularly

Clearly communicates expectations

Provides the “why” behind objectives

Provides vision and direction but doesn’t generally dictate

Understands reality and communicates it

Communicates the success criteria of your manager’s manager

Has “real” brainstorming meetings (not just pretend meetings with preconceived solutions)

Regularly communicates business and group level status and changes to the team

Gathers collaborative information and then decides

Solicits feedback

Encourages open, honest feedback and ideas to problems / issues.

Provides opportunities to provide feedback.

At the team level, solicits new solutions to existing problems and acts on the best of them.

Identifies his or her audience.

Able to influence and get buy in.


Team Building - Keeping People Happy

Has team offsites and happy hours

Builds relationships

Knows and cares about the team

Inspires excellence

Seeks the best from all

Encourages team building

Empowers the team by communicating status and goals of the organization

Empowers the team by allowing team members to feel like they can manage their own business

Provides regular team updates from the broad organization (vision and status)

Ties in individual objectives to organizational goals

Engages the team in decisions rather than dictates

Treats engineers and engineers and not as the lower level of the food chain

Engages engineers in meaningful conversations

Provides leadership opportunities

Gives true ownership of the results to the team

Understands what motivates each employee

Allows team members to present their ideas to upper management

Compliments people sincerely

Eliminates barriers for team members


Personal Attributes

Exhibits Servant Leadership (see Covey’s book)




Straight Talker



Open Minded


Good listener

Exhibits humility


Product and Profit Management / Customer Focus

Has a vision for the product

Has a strong understanding of end users

Keeps eyes on the end results

Defines concrete objectives