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Trust among ICs and management

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Anonymous User at Taro Communitya year ago

In a lot of companies I have worked, the engg management asks you to trust them blindly but expects you to earn their trust (especially if they are newer in team)

This is obviously not the case with all the management leaders. In some places I have seen leaders placing their trust on new people, in others trust is placed based on title of the people (doesnt matter if you are new or old)

but is it commonplace to have situations where trust is demanded blindly from you but you are asked to earn their trust. I thought trust is a 2 way street

But how have y'all seen trust play out in your situations.

I used to ask a question to filter out managers who would be like trust has to be earned. But in practice I have not seen that work

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Discussion

(4 comments)
  • 13
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    Ex @Mata @Microsoft, Founder Algolab
    a year ago

    You are right that trust is a 2-way street. But there are some nuances that need to be taken into account.

    Trust has a context. For two people, there could be multiple contexts in which they operate, and each context will have a different trust level.

    For example, I trust my mother will make a perfect biryani every time. But I don't trust her to fix my computer problems or grill a perfect steak.

    Your manager might trust you to be a reliable person for DevOps work, but they might not have trust yet to hand over a large critical project.

    They might expect you to trust them for guiding you in your career and take care of your career ladder. Here comes another distinction, I like to keep in mind.

    Trust is a promise: To be more precise, it is an implicit promise by the trustor on the trustee (borrowing these terms from legal but used differently). Trustor believes that the trustee will hold on to an implicit promise. That promise from a manager to an employee could be that they will give a promotion, assign a better project, represent positively, take care of the employee's interests, and help them grow and become a better person.

    But the manager has made a similar promise to 5 other employees. The manager has also made a few promises to their management as well.

    If considering this, then it is obvious that the manager is in a tough spot to fulfill all the promises. They will break some promises because of conflict with other promises, or for just being a human who could not keep up with all the implicit promises they have made.

    Good managers will keep you updated on their performance on these promises to you. They will break some promises and make new promises. Breaking a promise does not equal to total breakage of trust. It is not binary.

    Trust is built by making promises and fulfilling those promises. Both parties will need to keep making promises and fulfilling those promises. The trust will not stay in one place, it will go up and down as we do this exercise.

    Now, back to your original question, should a manager trust you, yes they should trust you to be a great engineer. Most managers will trust you to put all effort to deliver results. But will they trust you to give you a critical project, on which their own performance is evaluated? It will require building up trust over time.

    Make promises and fulfill those promises.

  • 11
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a year ago

    ...but is it commonplace to have situations where trust is demanded blindly from you but you are asked to earn their trust.

    It is unfortunately very common, because the vast majority of engineering managers are bad, which we cover in this video. You are 100% correct in that trust is a 2-way street, but what I have seen traditionally is that the power dynamic between engineering managers and ICs is very lopsided so this usually doesn't happen.

    But how have y'all seen trust play out in your situations.

    When I had good managers, trust was a 2-way street and the relationship felt more like a partnership instead of a worker-boss dynamic.

    When I had bad managers, they weren't helpful and solely told me what to do.

    I used to ask a question to filter out managers who would be like trust has to be earned. But in practice I have not seen that work

    To help with this, I highly recommend going through this video: [Masterclass] What Software Engineers Should Look For In Their Engineering Manager

    Your engineering manager is such a huge part of your quality of life at work and your overall career progression, which is why we went in-depth about that for 1.5 hours in the video. It is near impossible to really grow as an engineer with a bad manager.

  • 10
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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    a year ago

    You're right there is an asymmetry in the relationship between IC and manager, and that translates to differences in trust-building.

    Simply by their place in the org chart, the manager has been given some authority that lends itself to more trust, whether deserved or not.

    However, the actual work is being done by individual engineers. We've seen this push to favor ICs in many of the recent rounds of layoffs. So even though it's harder to build trust as an engineer, you also become more valuable to the org when you have established it. You'll be harder to fire and more optionality on which team or project you want to take on.

    You don't get that luxury if you're working as a manager, even though you are bestowed with credibility immediately.

    Also, I'll mention that the best engineers shouldn't be trying to test their ICs as a way to build trust -- they simply care about your growth.

  • 3
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    Senior Software Engineer at IBM
    a year ago

    Everything that has been said here is of course good and it really depends on how senior you are as well within the job of interest. 0 other context, I'd be trusting the person with 20 years of experience more than I would trust someone with 0 years of experience, but there are a lot of other factors that start to play into it. As a case study, I was hired recently into a new job that sounded great on the surface but turned out very differently after sitting in it for a few months (i.e. It wasn't what it was nearly advertised). Overall, it just made me realize I needed to try a different path. There's more to the story, but that's for another time to tell. Nobody is at fault though.