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Leading Questions Podcast

We are Dawn Kuczwara and Jer Lance; technologists, leaders, and (most importantly) opinionated people who want to draw from our wealth of experience in becoming leaders and leading teams to help answer your questions. If you'd like yours answered, email us and we'd be happy to "help!"
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Leading Questions Podcast
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Aug 22, 2017
This episode's question:
I'm starting a position soon as a senior engineer at a company, where my new leadership and I have discussed a potential track where I come on board as a senior engineer and then, if things are working well, moving me into more of a team lead and leadership track. As a result, I'm wondering if I should approach this differently than other jobs where I've come in before as senior member of a team. I know what I'd do, and it has generally worked well with me in the past, but I would be really interested to know how both of you approach this, as some of this is new territory for me.What is your process when you start as a leader or as a senior member of a new-to-you but already established team? More specifically: 1. What sorts of things do you ask your leadership when you're coming into a new team? 2. What do you ask the outgoing leader if they're still available? 3. How do you approach and start to build rapport with your team members, especially if they're tightly knit and may be wary of outsiders?
Archaic references from old people: Download this episode
Aug 8, 2017
This episode's question:
At work, I have been interviewing internally for management positions, but I haven't been getting them. I get feedback that I show promise or I have some ideas that are good or whatever. They say I don't have enough experience actually doing leadership, but how do I get experience leading until I get the job?
 
Jul 25, 2017
In this episode, we address a recurring series of questions that has come up numerous times: who are we and why should you care what we have to say about leadership? Join us as we spend an hour interviewing one another and talking about what brought us here.  
Jul 5, 2017
This episode's question:
Why does it feel personal when you get laid off or fired? How do you deal with laying off or firing someone when you actually do have a bias against them?
The shirts we mention...again... Download this episode
Jun 20, 2017
This episode's question:
My boss at a financial institution seemed friendly at first, but then began tearing me down and saying inappropriate things about me both to just me and when others were around. For instance, at the time I was struggling with my weight, and this manager would say "Oh don't ask (question asker) to come to lunch, she doesn't eat!" It got so bad, I went to HR and complained. Their response was less than helpful. They actually said to me "Well, what do you want us to do about it?" My question is, if you have an HR situation, and HR won't help, what do you do?
Links: T-Shirts from the Ad!
Jun 6, 2017
This episode's question answers the last question from last episode:
I was looking into doing some contract work recently and I found the process a bit strange. After filling out a questionnaire and two meetings at restaurants, I was given a "homework" assignment. The assignment itself was basically a mini project in the platform I would be working on, but after spending 10 hours on it and only being halfway through, I realized that I didn't really want to take on this extra work because it paid hourly slightly less than what I made at my full time job and I was struggling to keep up with my personal responsibilities, so it just didn't feel worth it. What should I expect the pay to be so I know when someone is taking advantage?
   
May 23, 2017
This episode's question:
I was looking into doing some contract work recently and I found the process a bit strange. After filling out a questionnaire and two meetings at restaurants, I was given a "homework" assignment. The assignment itself was basically a mini project in the platform I would be working on, but after spending 10 hours on it and only being halfway through, I realized that I didn't really want to take on this extra work because it paid hourly slightly less than what I made at my full time job and I was struggling to keep up with my personal responsibilities, so it just didn't feel worth it. So I have a few questions. Is it common (or even feasible) to do contract work on top of a full time job? How many hours should one reasonably expect to be able to work without affecting their full time job? What is the hiring process for contract work normally like?
Interesting Notes:
  • Number of hours in a week, 168 (not 140 or 3000 Jer)
  • "Ephemeral" (not "efurmurmurmur" Dawn)
  • Go and see Dawn speak at ThatConference in Wisconsin
May 9, 2017
Yanni Kuznia, COO of Subterranean Press, and I spent this episode at Penguicon hanging out with our fellow geeks, answering some quick-hit questions from our inbox, and fielding a few more from the audience. Questions covered here include:
  • How do we reconcile our statements that "firing is failure" and that one should "coach up or coach out"?
  • How do you deal with teammates that have a hygiene or odor issue?
  • How do you train to be a leader? What classes should one take?
  • How do you avoid feeling as though you have to explain your every decision to your team?
  • How do you handle a situation where a person to whom you report is making a bad decision that will have a big impact?
Download this episode
Apr 25, 2017
This episode's question:
So I have an employee who is very good at what he does as long as he has a schedule, a set of boundaries, clear process, and he can "discuss" whatever is going on at that moment multiple times per hour. He is also a full on man-child with absolutely no capability of self management or accountability and freaks out at the slightest amount of stress or pressure. Last night, he mentioned taking a day off the following week. I asked him if it was truly needed as the partners had noticed a bit of a trend lately. I suggested that if he really needed the day off, that he should take it, but if he would be able to just come in an hour late or skip out over lunch, that would have a better appearance at the moment. He agreed, and asked if anything was going on, and I assured him that I was just making sure there wasn't the appearance of a problem. He called later in the evening expressing frustration at what he called "mixed messages" about our work from home and PTO policies. He felt that PTO and work from home were offered, but it was frowned upon for him to use them. I explained that it is offered to be used as a tool, but not so much that it becomes an issue. I reminded him that he used PTO or work from home 5 times in three weeks, mostly working from home. He seems to think that this is what the policy is there for and cannot understand how he's supposed to manage when things like a flat tire comes up. How can I explain this to him? What could I have done differently?
Words that Dawn made up this episode:
  • Squinky
Apr 12, 2017
This episode's question:
Should you be friends with your leader? Should you be friends with people you lead?
The conferences we mentioned this episode:  
Mar 28, 2017
This episode's question:
Someone on my team just got offered a promotion to a different job title; currently he is an QA analyst but has been operating as an SDET. He interviewed for and was accepted for an SDE position (not SDET) on our mobile team. The offer they gave him is roughly 20k below industry average but since he already works here he seems to be in a harder place to negotiate, any ideas?
Links from this episode:
Mar 14, 2017
This episode's question:
What does a manager/leader do? What makes a good manager/leader?
     
Feb 28, 2017
This episode's question:
How do you teach/groom soft skills in technical people that lack them, or even that express an active disdain for them?
References from this episode:

What if every person you come across is doing the best they can to meet needs you can understand and recognize in yourself, even when their strategies are not to your liking?

  Download this episode
Feb 14, 2017
This episode's question:
How do you identify people who have leadership qualities on your team and give them opportunities to practice those skills before they come into power themselves?
References from this episode:  
Jan 31, 2017
This episode's question:
How do you motivate an employee who does "good enough" work to get them to that "drinking the koolaid" level of excitement?
References from this episode:  
Jan 17, 2017
This episode's question is:
Can you please lend advice as to how a person in the Leadership role can encourage the passions of a team, (as a whole, and as individuals) while ensuring emotion based actions are not the end result? Recently I've had numerous team members confusing the passion for a project with their own emotionally based actions within the project. Example: Some team members have disliked decisions [I have] made, and in their protests of the decisions, acted from emotions, throwing forth behavior that could be considered immature; [things like] "I will quit if you don't agree. This is who I am and how I act. It's passionate, which you said is, good!" How [do I] put forth the concept of passion for the project versus individually based emotions?
The talk referenced and grossly misattributed was "Passion is 💩" by Jay Harris.
Jan 3, 2017
This episode's question is:
How do you create an environment that is conducive to asking for and receiving help?
The books referenced in this episode were: Download this episode
Dec 20, 2016
Welcome to our first episode! Because this is brand new, we were forced to dig through our emails, IMs, and social media to find questions that we have been asked in the past that we thought would kick things off nicely--and what better way to start something new than a question about the end of something. This episode's question:
I just got fired by my employer. I thought that I was doing better and that I wasn’t at risk, but they let me go. I’m just wondering what do I do now? Where should I look for work? What should I tell my next employer? This really stings, being my first professional job. I could really use some advice.
Download this episode
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