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My org is really slow at building alignment - How can I improve that?

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Senior Software Engineer [E5] at Meta2 years ago

I work in a Big Blue team that needs to go through many layers of approvals to ship anything. Sometimes we'll be working on a project for 1-2 halves and then the approvals will be pulled back, torpedoing the project.

What can I do to improve the process here, so my team can ship more?

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    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    2 years ago
    • Unfortunately, there's no magic trick here, especially if you're E5: Getting better at building alignment requires building deep relationships and amassing lots of social capital over a long period of time.
    • Look for common points of failure when it comes to these approvals, and start building relationships with those people. Truly understand where they're coming from and their incentive structure. Set up recurring 1:1s as much as you can, especially if they are directly attached to projects you are working on.
    • Learn to build compromise. This is something I've seen a lot of engineers struggle with, including myself. If some XFN dependency proposes something, don't just shoot it down citing a lack of time - Try to find a middle ground. An example is proposing less complex but still good looking designs when a designer initially suggests something that looks extremely good but is very complex.
    • Take a long time planning to make sure you can do a lot of proactive thinking: Concretely ask yourself and your team, "How can this project be thrown under the bus?". From there, figure out dependencies and start the train on those ASAP.
    • Turn everything into a contract. Don't settle for a soft agreement, especially if it's verbal only. Make sure to get things in writing, like them commenting on a project doc that they will have X dependency in on Y date, and make sure that their manager sees it. This way, if things blow up, you can hold them accountable. I've seen so many engineers settle for soft agreements in meetings only to get their projects destroyed later on. I've said many things like the following in meetings for projects I'm leading:
      • "So we're agreed that by X day, Y dependency will be 100% done and there will be no future changes there? I just want to make sure we can lock this in, so we plan all dependent milestones."
      • "Are you 100% sure there's nothing that puts this target at risk? If there's risks, I'm happy to work with you to address them proactively."
      • "Do you have complete alignment among your team and manager that you can deliver this? If not, I'm happy to talk to folks with you to share additional context on what we're trying to build here."
Meta Platforms, Inc. is an American multinational technology conglomerate based in Menlo Park, California. The company owns 3 of top 4 social networks in the world: Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. More than 3.5 billion people use at least one of the company's core products every month.
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