Optimizely's Zach Lawyrk has been leading sales engineering teams for years and has developed best practices for keeping teams accountable and motivated. Here he shares his most valuable advice.
Make Accountability Visual
“I don’t think there is anything more satisfying than getting shit done and marking it as complete,” says Zach Lawyrk, the Head of Global Sales Engineering at Optimizely. That’s the mentality Lawyrk has brought to leading his teams.
“When I first came to Optimizely, I was able to work with individuals who practiced agile scrum, and we decided to apply that to internal projects, not just engineering initiatives. How it breaks down is: we track all of our projects on a board on Trello, and we maintain a backlog of work we want to complete. From there we decide what maps to quarterly goals and needs to be tracked day-to-day. As we generate new ideas, we put that in the backlog and then on a quarterly basis we assign ownership to projects and tasks to make sure we get things done.”
“I love the visual accountability, because it helps me picture all of the work that needs to be done. For me, as a manager, having visibility into what my team is working on and what has yet to be accomplished is also very powerful. It allows me to understand where my team is getting slowed down and where I can help without having the problems boil over first.”
Accomplishments Over Titles
More than just keeping his team on task, Lawryk talks about the importance of creating an environment where employees can feel like they have room to grow as contributors.
“If you want employees to feel like they are growing in their careers, it is the company’s responsibility to create a work environment where people feel like they can really accomplish something. If companies are able to make that feel like a real possibility, then employees start to think about their career development outside of titles and promotions and about whether or not they created something of value during their time at your company.”
Small Things Add Up
Although Lawryk is often thinking about high-level goals, like maintaining accountability and promoting growth, he keeps himself grounded with consistent tasks that help him better lead his team.
His suggestions include:
Track your 1:1s: Keep notes and goals from your one-on-one’s with your team in a shared document like a Google Doc or a Box Note. Every week, you can update this document and both manager and employee can keep each other accountable.
Don’t communicate career over Slack: While it is so easy to ping someone online, save that for the tactical questions. When you want to discuss an important subject, talk in person or pick up the phone.
Empower employees: In your one-on-one’s, give employees ownership by entrusting them to run the career portion of the conversation.
Although managing a team can sometimes feel like a moving target, Lawryk continues to use these principles to guide his teams towards success and fulfillment.