Apply Your Force to Make the Right Impact

Am I a Jedi? Hmm, not really, but both you and I can make an impact. And it’s your decision where you apply the force. I’d like to share the story of how I choose to make an impact at Egnyte.

The start of my journey with Egnyte

I joined Egnyte as a Software Engineer, so I was primarily focused on developing the right technical solutions. Practically speaking, that means providing value to the end-user by delivering features and writing reliable code that is compliant with best practices and understandable to others. 🚀

This was especially challenging early on because I was getting familiar with a new framework and trying to digest as many company-specific practices as I could. I discovered quickly, however, that I could count on others to help me find my way, and that has not since changed. At Egnyte, you get help whenever you ask. That's because supporting each other's journey to success is a top priority across the company.

Let’s stop for a second here. Why do I think this is so important? I strongly believe that a team is more than a group of individuals or just a sum of its parts. Together we multiply effects. Each time we interact, collaborate, help each other, challenge each other—we get to the next level. We get to a place where we wouldn’t get individually. The major and basic rule is to never hesitate to ask for help and always stay open to helping others.

As well as I received help, I was spending quite a significant amount of time helping others. I started with onboarding new developers. At the time, I was engaged at three levels: codebase, product, and process. I was helping them understand good practices and code organization. I was explaining product features and its business justifications. I was introducing newcomers to the Agile world and our implementation of its values. I’m particularly proud that I witnessed interns become full-time employees thanks to my guidance.

Ways to multiply impact

Eventually, I expanded my contributions to identifying what's important to the team and helping us achieve it. Starting with pinning down the main pain points, we were figuring out what could be done better.  I volunteered to improve the way we went about running meetings, gathering requirements, estimating, and planning. Finding the right adjustment to the process and introducing it takes time, but that’s one of the things that multiply effects in the future.

I always thought of myself as a great team player, and I was considering how I could support others. With time, it has evolved to a strong belief in people’s talents. I value their expertise and engagement. At the same time, I know many engineers are introverts. Following my belief, I’ve set a goal to ensure people's voices are heard, and messages of subtle voices are amplified. As a result, I’ve helped multiple times to change a course of action and make a better impact.

I suppose at this point, you may already see that my focus was changing, and I was spending more and more time figuring out how I could boost others' work. Consequently, I was coding less. However, it turned out that by sacrificing some coding time, I could improve the outcome for the entire team. I’m very happy when there’s some space for an employee to find their path. Egnyte leaves a lot of flexibility to the teams and people individually to work out the way to make a great impact.

Let me share a conclusion from this chapter of my growth. People are the ones that make things happen, and if you unlock their potential, you can make a difference. In other words, hearing from people will give you many clues about what can be done better and how you can bring your team to the next level. I highly encourage you to try to catch such clues.

The shift

At some point, I happened to pick up a part of the engineering manager’s responsibility. The need emerged when my manager moved to Egnyte's U.S. headquarters. I, along with two other colleagues, was asked to cover his responsibility in addition to existing daily work. Taking on this new work was a subtle extension of work that I was already doing, so I officially agreed to help support business and engineering cooperation and take care of people and team growth. Fast forward a couple of months, I was asked by our VP of Engineering to officially step into a manager role. Although my team and leadership felt that I was ready, I didn’t want to do take the step prematurely. I turned down the offer… or I should say I "parked" it. I knew that it aligned with my growth plan, but the most important factor to me was to get there gradually. I really respect the fact that, at Egnyte, everyone can set their own pace for personal development and I felt invited, rather than pushed, which is great.

Do you feel that you’re growing at the right pace? What can you do to adjust? At the end of the day, each one of us is responsible for our own personal development.

I parked the decision to become a manager for a couple of months. Finally, when another Senior Engineer joined the team, I felt it was the right time. There was a good replacement for the technical part of my contribution, and I had another chance to take a closer look at the Engineering Manager role. And this time, it didn't feel like a big shift anymore. Instead, it felt quite natural.

The three pillars of Engineering Management are business collaboration between product and engineering, delivery, and team well-being and growth. When I first became an Engineering Manager, I was already devoting around 50% of my time to most of the things EMs are responsible for. The only difference was that now I could officially devote myself to helping the team full time. This created an opportunity to look even deeper into what could be done to increase my impact. Did I already mention that Egnyte is a helping environment? It was no different this time. I received a ton of additional context and support along the way. Now, together with the leadership team at Egnyte, I know we support each other and we contribute to the entire organization's growth.

I found my force. What about you?

Throughout the years, I applied my force in various ways. I always tried to look around and think about how I could contribute to a better tomorrow. If you ask me what helped, I think it was Egnyte’s openness to follow my individual path and experiment with my own value proposition. Bringing value is quite often not exclusively restricted to writing the code.

Do you think that a helping environment can take you or your organization to the next level? Personally, when I see people supporting each other, I feel the force. Maybe it’s the right moment to think about how you can contribute to creating such an environment around you?

And lastly, my fellow Jedi, are you using your force in the right way? What is around you that can work better, and how can you contribute to get your organization to the next level?

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Author
Kamil Koterba

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