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Communication Q&A and Videos

About Communication

At the end of the day, working in tech, or anywhere really, is all about working with other human beings. Communication is the core skill necessary to make this collaboration effective.

How to communicate about a lack of productivity due to personal issues?

Mid-Level Software Engineer at Taro Community profile pic
Mid-Level Software Engineer at Taro Community

Hello Community,

I hope you're all doing well. I'm reaching out to this community because I value the diverse experiences and perspectives we share, and I find myself in need of some advice.

Recently, I've been going through a challenging period due to some personal and family issues. Without going into too much detail, these challenges have started to impact my work performance and my ability to communicate effectively with my team, especially during on-call responsibilities. While I strive to maintain professionalism, I've noticed that my current situation has made it more difficult to manage my work communications as effectively as I would like.

I understand many of you have likely navigated similar waters and may have valuable insights or strategies that could help me improve my communication during this time. Specifically, I'm looking for advice on:

  • Balancing Transparency and Professionalism: How much should I share about my personal situation with colleagues or management to explain my current performance without overstepping professional boundaries?
  • Requesting Support or Adjustments at Work: What's the best way to ask for flexibility or support from my team or management, ensuring I can manage my responsibilities without compromising the team's objectives?
  • Maintaining Productivity and Focus: Any tips for staying productive and maintaining focus on work tasks during personal turmoil?
  • Self-Care Strategies: How can I ensure I'm taking care of my mental and emotional health, so I'm in the best position to perform my work and communicate effectively?

I'm committed to overcoming these challenges and continuing to contribute positively to my team. I would greatly appreciate any advice, tips, or resources you could share based on your own experiences or knowledge in this area.

Thank you so much for your time and for any guidance you can provide. This community has always been a source of inspiration and support, and I'm grateful to be a part of it.

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How to give constructive upward feedback towards an Engineering Manager?

Software Engineer at Taro Community profile pic
Software Engineer at Taro Community

A bit of context, I've read the EM videos on Taro, and I feel the one that I have is not on the same levels. They lack of many things. I fear to provide the proper feedback because my promotion and appraisal is on the line.

They got promoted from SDE 1 to EM because of the funding

  1. I would recommend my manager to others?
    ~ For people management yes, for technical stuff no
  2. My manager assigns stretch opportunities to help me develop in my career?
    ~ I don't really understand this question
  3. My manager communicates clear goals for our team
    ~ No they don't, don't have any documentation, a system design decisions are made on ad hoc basis, team is not aware about the changes.
  4. My manager consistently shows consideration for me as a person
    ~ yes people ops are good
  5. My manager effectively collaborates across boundaries(eg team, org)
    ~ Nope, there are certain teams expecting the manager to steer the ship but since there is no planning many of the things are pending
  6. My manager gives me actionable feedback on a regular basis
    ~ Nope 1-1 is there is no feedback for me
  7. My manager has had a meaningful discussion with me about my career development in the past six months
    ~ Yep promotion and appraisal talks as I'm identified as top IC + team lead who is proactive
  8. My manager has the technical expertise required to effectively manage me.
    ~ Nope, they lack
  9. My manager keeps the team focused on priorities, even when its difficult
    ~ This they do but always the output has no value only there is a hype and fear to get things done, no business value is generated
  10. My manager makes tough decisions effectively
    ~ They reorg the team only thinking them as a resource rather than how much context and individual has made in the project
  11. My manager provides the autonomy I need to do my job
    ~ They do and then I plan it accordingly but when a junior goes to manager he changes the scope and context
  12. What would you have your manager change?
  13. What would you recommend your manager keep doing?

But, overall I fear to write what I wish to communicate to the leadership.

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How to network with other engineering managers, specifically in AI/ML?

Mid-Level Software Engineer at Taro Community profile pic
Mid-Level Software Engineer at Taro Community

Hello everyone,

I'm reaching out to this community seeking advice and insights as I consider a significant career transition. Currently, I am working in software engineering, but I've recently completed my master's degree with a core focus on Reinforcement Learning and Artificial Intelligence.

Throughout my academic journey, I've developed a strong passion for AI/ML, and now, I'm eager to pivot my career in this direction. While I've gained substantial experience in software development, I believe that transitioning to a team more aligned with AI/ML will allow me to fully utilize my skills and contribute more meaningfully to the field.

I understand that networking plays a crucial role in such transitions. However, I'm looking for guidance on the best practices for connecting with AI/ML engineering managers. I am particularly interested in learning about:

  1. Effective ways to initiate conversations with AI/ML leaders, especially when coming from a different technical background.
  2. Strategies to demonstrate my competence and enthusiasm for AI/ML, despite my primary experience being in software engineering.
  3. Insights into the challenges and expectations specific to AI/ML teams that I might not be aware of coming from a different specialization.

Additionally, I'd love to hear any personal stories or experiences about making a similar transition. What were your challenges, and how did you overcome them? How did you leverage your previous experience during this shift?

I appreciate any advice or connections you might offer. Please feel free to reach out to me directly if you're open to a conversation.

Thank you for your time and support!

Best regards

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How to Back Out of an Interview with a Company with a Poor Culture

Data Engineer at Financial Company profile pic
Data Engineer at Financial Company

I've done 4 interviews with a company in the finance space that pays pretty well. I've completed my technical interviews and have advanced to the cultural/behavioural rounds where I'm set to speak with senior business folks, including the COO and the CEO.

Initially, I was excited to be at this stage and resolved to prepare by talking to former employees of the company who could give me insights into the work and culture that I could use to impress my interviewers. However, my conversations with these folks served to turn me off of the company. Everyone said it's a grind culture where people are expected to work 60 hours a week. I've done the math and on a per-hour worked basis, the pay's not actually that great.

Based on the lack of challenge to my interviews so far and my convos, I get the sense the company is desperate to fill the role because the former employees I spoke to had enough of the bad work-life balance and quit.

I'm pretty sure I can get the offer, but I don't see much point anymore. I won't accept it at the salary the recruiter gave and even if I can bump it up 15% I still won't. So I think the best thing to do is to cancel my interviews and save everyone time.

My question is, how do I back out gracefully? I don't think telling the truth ("your culture stinks") is appropriate here. I was thinking of saying that I got another offer, but if they really care, they'll be able to see that my LinkedIn hasn't changed, and maybe that'll leave a bad taste.

Any insights are welcome :)

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