Let me tell you about a mistake I made as a manager.

I thought it would be cool to be as generous as possible with decisions. If there was a decision to be made, I'd open it up to the team for discussions. "How kind and democratic," I thought to myself. "I'm one of the good ones!" I later found out I was annoying the team. By opening up every decision, I dragged out meetings and dumped extra mental labor onto my reports. How did I get so out-of-touch? Simple. I allowed myself to get feedback from my own imagination. 

When you're a manager, several barriers stand in the way of self-awareness. For example, you evaluate people's performance, so no matter how nice or supportive you may be, there are built-in incentives to agree with you. Additionally, it can be awkward for your reports to bring up feedback in one-on-one meetings. As a manager, your title can mean you're treated as correct by default, and it can be easy to slip into that lens when evaluating your own decisions. These examples can lead to negative outcomes such as missing a harmful trade-off because a report didn't feel empowered to disagree with you. 

This talk will cover concrete strategies you can use today to improve your self-awareness as a manager. Through a series of fun and not-so-fun cautionary tales, we'll talk about how to unlock real feedback from your team, when to use a direct versus indirect approach, and how to avoid the traps that lure us into thinking our worst decisions are our best. By the end, you'll walk away with the tools to become more in touch with your teams and yourself so that you can enable your engineers to do their best work.