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Product engineers are experts at identifying, understanding and solving problems. But the problems you tackle – and therefore the impact that you have – don’t have to be limited to the work you do within a text editor or integrated development environment.
Having an impact outside the code editor is about finding ways to shape your company’s culture as much as you build the product. That way, your positive impact will be felt far and wide.
Encourage engineers to share their knowledge with others in ways that enrich the community. If they've solved a problem that others have struggled with, they should be able to share those solutions.
These are great opportunities to build your own engineering culture, learn from other engineers, and foster innovation in the wider community. It’s important that engineers are given the support to feel comfortable doing this.
Getting involved in interviewing candidates is perhaps the most obvious and direct way a product engineer can help out with hiring.
As your team grows, the two biggest challenges are ensuring the quality of candidates is high enough and that broader alignment is maintained. The interview process gives you a chance to gauge both quality and alignment or identify the risk of misalignment, so it is a crucial opportunity for any engineer to contribute to the long-term health of the engineering team.
Onboarding is often treated as a one or two-day interlude before we get to our “real” work. It’s focused on meeting a bunch of people, setting up our computer, walking through benefits, etc.
While these steps are important, this type of onboarding is generic and shallow and leaves huge gaps. When high-impact engineers invest in helping a new person become impactful themselves, it acts as a force multiplier and will pay dividends for the team and company.
The world’s best products are built by teams, not singularly brilliant and lone engineers. A defining characteristic of a product engineer is that they spend the time making sure that newer or more junior engineers that may be unfamiliar with the tech or processes not only understand what they are doing, but also why they are doing it.
In practice, this means a product engineer demonstrates technical leadership by creating processes that other people can follow, thereby enabling delegation and multiplying their effectiveness.
A shared set of values that your whole team buys into will help maintain the elements of company culture you hold dear.
Defining and iterating on values bottom-up as well as top-down means our values are something engineers have a sense of ownership of. In this way, they are not just empty words, but something we all have the opportunity to shape.
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