Derrek Young

Leading an SE Team with a Personalized Approach

Mar 01, 2022
3 minutes

I spoke with Ramzi Marjaba on his “We the Sales Engineers” podcast a little bit ago and had a terrific chat. We discussed a variety of topics but spent most of the time n my approach to leading an SE team. You can find the full recording and other notes on Ramzi’s page and on YouTube.

Some highlights:

What’s my approach when starting to lead a new team?

“For the first couple of quarters, at least, my number one customer is going to be my SE team. […] Getting to know somebody helps me to better relate to them. I can be a better manager, I can be a better mentor, I can be a better sounding board, right. Because if I can start to learn how this person approaches problems and situations and how they think, I can adapt my response better, as opposed to trying to take a one size fits all, cookie-cutter type of response.” (10:43 to 14:30)

Listen, Observe, Learn, Assess (LOLA)

“If I can come in and listen, observe, learn, assess and sort of gather the information about both people and the business then that puts me in a situation where I can start to make informed decisions and hopefully not break too much in the process.” (15:38 to 16:40)

Creating a Feedback Culture

“I am a huge proponent of a feedback culture. It kind of gets into this idea of just continuously learning, continuously improving, continuously trying to up your game and find new ways to be better and more efficient and just improve in whatever that might be. And if there’s something that I’m doing that’s not working, it’s not resonating, that’s somehow introducing friction into the system then I absolutely want to know about that. […]

You have to start with a position of trust and integrity, and then just take the leap. And what I’ll find is that a lot of times, I want to extend the olive branch and show that hey, having this level of vulnerability is okay. Let me show you how I do it. And you can model it back to me. […]

In the end, I want to build that culture of feedback and have the trust there so that people feel like they can come in and have those conversations.” (16:40 to 22:43)

Experiments & Continuous Improvements

“If you’re not getting better, then you’re getting worse. Even if you’re staying the same, your competition is getting better, they’re finding ways to level up. So by proxy, you’re actually getting worse. So you have to find ways to continually improve, and just try to get better.” (24:07 to 25:45)