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In the software engineering world, a team is usually made up of a manager and several engineers. The software engineering manager is supposed to be the Mother Hen overlooking the needs of individuals in the team. Some of the responsibilities of a manager include ensuring that meaningful work is allocated, giving feedback and being an advocate for engineers’ growth and learning.
It’s common for a software engineering manager to schedule 1:1 meetings with each engineer in the team. Depending on the likes of the manager, the frequency of such meetings can vary from once a week to once a month.
Often times, we are told that in order to make these meetings as efficient as possible, we should be as candid as possible. Everything discussed during 1:1s are supposed to be confidential. They are like private time slots dedicated for an individual to share with their manager the problems they may face at work, establish work goals or give progress updates. And managers are supposed to keep an open ear, listen and take this time to address any concerns, suggestions or questions that an individual may have.
In my personal experience, some questions that managers like to ask may be:
- How are you?
- How do you feel about the tasks allocated to you? Do you find the task meaningful?
- Any suggestions for improvements to the team processes?
- Do you feel like your work is aligned with your personal goals?
- Do you have any career goals you would like to achieve?
When faced with these questions, I find it really hard to provide honest and candid answers. Even if I have some thoughts in my mind, I find it hard to muster my courage to share them with my manager. I don’t like to have difficult conversations at work and usually shy away from them whenever I can. I prefer to avoid “conflict” and just stay out of “trouble” by keeping silent.