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Which 1-on-1s should I prioritize as the tech lead of a big project?

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Anonymous User at Taro Community8 months ago

Hi! I'm an L5 in a big tech company, tasked with leading a big org-level project that span multiple engineering teams, with lots of cross functional collaboration w/ UX and PM as well.

I'm new to my own team and I'm not the subject matter expert in the area of our work, which is around 8-ish people with about 2 other L5s. In order for me to successfully manage this project for our team, I am already involved in a lot of meetings and I have yet to set up recurring 1:1s. I believe I should set up some more of these 1:1s, but I can't imagine I would be setting one up w/ everyone I come across.

Which 1-on-1s / relationship should I prioritize, how frequently should they happen, and how do I ensure these meetings are good use of both my time and the other person's time?

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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    8 months ago

    So my general principle when it comes to setting up 1 on 1s as a project lead is to answer the following question:

    Who can throw my project under the bus?

    And then for all those people, I set up the recurring 1 on 1. 😂

    In terms of frequency, my general playbook is to set up a biweekly first. That's the sweet spot where it doesn't feel too frequent, but it's frequent enough to catch problems and prevent alignment issues on a relatively fast time scale.

    Zooming out, what's far more important than the initial cadence you set is your ability to adapt and adjust meetings as necessary:

    • Sometimes you'll get it wrong with the initial meeting, and it turns out that this meeting you have should be more frequent, less frequent, or just non-existent
    • Sometimes the meeting was indeed necessary at a biweekly or even weekly cadence in the beginning when your collaboration with this person was very deep, but it becomes less important over time as that phase of the project shifts
    • Sometimes your project blows up due to a lack of alignment with a major stakeholder who you didn't have a 1 on 1 with and you realize that you totally should have had one (this has happened to me a couple times)

    When it comes to the common "culprits" for 1 on 1s, I generally do a mix of the following:

    1. The lead PM
    2. The lead designer
    3. The lead engineers across the other stacks from me (so since I'm Android, this will be with iOS and back-end, sometimes web)

    The PM/designer ones are much more important early on when the project isn't well defined yet. You can probably drop those over time.

    I also recommend these resources: