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Data-Driven 1:1s With Hatica: Build Trust, & Recognize Engineering Work 

Discover how Hatica empowers engineering teams to conduct data-driven 1:1 meetings. Build trust and recognize impact of engineering work. Explore now!
Run Data-Driven 1:1s For Engineering Teams With Hatica

As engineering teams are moving between periods of aggressive demands, non-stop cycles of work, layoffs, and burnout spells, engineering leaders are now looking for new avenues to understand, and address the need to boost performance for their individual contributors and engineering teams.

This demands to build a culture of effective communication between engineering leaders and their respective teams to bridge any information gap, identify roadblocks, areas of improvement and anchor these communication to drive engineering excellence across the board. 

1:1 meetings for engineering teams are one such tool widely recognized for their ability to combat employee turnover, and drive team engagement. These unfiltered, solicited conversations are known to put developers at the center of engineering work. They help engineering managers nurture a growth-oriented workplace culture, and even build a positive developer experience. 

But here’s a catch. Despite being hailed as the “most useful meeting in tech,” a lot of engineering manhours are spent in trying to figure out the right way to run a 1:1 

As per an HBR survey, 50% of respondents rated their 1:1 experiences as overly suboptimal, with no clear agendas, action plans for improvement, or even conversations around workflow bottlenecks. 

It is now time for engineering teams to realize the full value from 1:1 meetings, especially in quantifying developer work, and addressing team well-being challenges. 

Read this insight to truly get the anatomy of an effective 1:1 meetings, how teams can leverage data-driven 1:1s to build trust, and recognize engineering work. 

What are 1:1 Meetings & Why To Have Them With Your Direct Reports?

1:1s are periodic, mostly weekly meetings that engineering managers run with their ICs. These 30-45 min candid conversations are often deep-dives into developer throughput– to understand work progress, and blockers that might be limiting your direct reports in performing their best work. 

In the grand & complex schema of all things engineering, 1:1s comes as a personalized space for both mentor, and their mentee to sit together, build rapport, and trust, while mapping their productive work output with overall software delivery.  

Developers are complex employees– they come with diverse personalities, work styles, goals, ideas, and aspirations. Most of them come with imposter syndrome– meaning they cannot themselves translate, or market their work, efforts, challenges and breakdowns. 

For them, 1:1 manager meetings come with a shared space to engage in honest conversations about their professional endeavors. And it could be anything, from painful or slower code reviews, to product-tech misalignment, meeting (over)load, workflow bottlenecks, growth at work, and even their personal goals, aspirations, and challenges. 

While for engineering managers or tech leads, 1:1s are a chance to keep a check on engineering pulse, acknowledge development efforts of their direct reports and work towards driving team productivity with constant, empowering discussions, and coherent action plans. 

However, 1:1 meetings still stay underrated, and underutilized.  

The ground rhetoric of running 1:1s remains completely different, and even antagonizing to the DoE/EM-IC relationship.  

Despite the good intentions, 1:1s have of late come out as a challenge for engineering managers, rather than a reliable tool to maintain team cohesion, and developer productivity, in their arsenal.  

The Challenges in Running Effective 1:1s

  • The #1 challenge to traditional 1:1s is lack of workflow visibility. Without having a 360 degree picture of what their devs are working on, or the bottlenecks they encounter; it can become a nightmare for EMs to acknowledge their developer’s contribution, ease their workload, or mentor them in their growth sprout. 
  • Another issue plaguing engineering 1:1s is missing out on actionable data to drive work plans. Your team data is a mine of insights; yet most managers find it hard to extract value out of it, thanks to the data sprawl, and consequential information silos. 
  • When managers and teams do not have data on the schedule, duration, or results of their 1:1 meetings, over time, they can lose the vision of the 1:1 itself. Consequently, managers wind up spending a lot of time sifting through their team’s work and processes to be able to understand how their developers are doing individually or to recognize problem areas like burnout risk. This often leads to delayed interventions and becomes harder for managers to help their teams. 
  • Remote 1:1s can quickly turn unproductive without a structured format, or agenda where both parties spend hours figuring out what’s next. 
  • At times, 1:1s are centered around updates, and project requirements; rather understanding who your developers are as a person, and their tryst, struggles, and challenges with work right now. 

As engineering managers lack actionable insights into their developer workflow, what is supposed to be a transformative tool just becomes just another subjective assessment of an IC’s deliverables, capabilities, and blockers. 

Without any contextual, and objective metrics in place, managers invest their scarce manhours in dissecting their team's work and workflows, all in a bid to grasp individual productivity, and pinpoint potential red flags like burnout risks. 

It hinders EMs, or leads in senior positions from being the best mentors that they potentially intend to be, and even scale their teams effortlessly. 

Despite good intentions, the 1:1 starts seeming like a burden more than anything.

Bring Actionable Data Into Your Conversations–Take Your 1:1 Meetings To Next Level

1:1 meetings are a one-way ticket for engineering managers to build emphatic relationships with their direct reports. So, how to make them more intentional, and powerful? 

Our find - Bring contextual data, and adopt metric-driven engineering practices. 

Stitching actionable data into your 1:1s can help teams decipher work visibility, recognition for due accomplishments, and retention, and validate development efforts, without going into subjective assessment, and futile time & performance forms.   

And that’s where Hatica’s engineering management platform kicks in - to run powerful  

data-driven 1:1s, and have more fruitful bottom-up conversations.     

Hatica’s metric-driven approach can make your 1:1s more intentional, and less boring, and even fun, if done right 💡

Here’s a rundown of how we help engineering teams make the most of their 1:1s: 

1. Single Source of Truth To Drive Engineering Impact 

Once you welcome your dev to the 1:1, start your meeting by hovering over to developer summary dashboard, and get a single pane view of all your IC’s engineering activities- from meeting time, to coding hours, their PR status, and incident load. 

Hatica's developer summary dashboard

The dashboard comes with 360 degree visibility to measure your developer’s work without being overly intrusive. 

Leverage these custom metrics to uncover blockers that might not be identifiable through a regular conversation with your direct report. 

A quick look at high meeting time, and low coding days will set your devs free from their concerns of not having enough time to focus on coding, and grooming tasks. That way, you can prioritize to either slash off their meeting/interview load, or ease off some pressure this sprint.

Hatica single pane view of developer activities, and engineering work

Devs are your primary building blocks. Understanding their workflow bottlenecks, and leveraging a data-driven approach to solve them, can help foster a culture of trust and empathy within the team.

2. Understand Operational Blockers, and Improve PR Hygiene 

A metric-driven dashboard (such as Hatica Activity Log Dashboard) also helps you to visualize, flag PRs merged without review by the IC, or assigned-yet unpicked PRs, and even code pieces with abnormally high rework.

A snapshot from Hatica's Activity Log Dashboard

Reviewing these metrics at the beginning of your 1:1s helps you to setup cadence for upcoming discussions. 

As an engineering leader, you can always use the contextual data to:

  • Understand where your developers are blocked, or their hesitancy in conveying the same (remember the iceberg of ignorance?). Zoom in to see the task, commit or PR behind the bottleneck, and discuss proactively with your devs. For instance, significantly lower PR merge count can show gaps in work being done vs work that was pushed to production.
  • Analyze higher PR reviews, and PRs ratio to identify review workload. The higher the ratio, the better your chance to understand how overburdened your devs are, or if they are compromising on their coding time. 
Analyze PR review workload by Hatica

This helps you visualize how your IC is working with the team to ultimately deliver the features and fix the bugs you care about. These indicators, when taken care of in time, help you keep your cycle time below inflated. 

Discussing these metrics in your 1:1s is like doing a regular, preventive checkup on your engineering team’s work- so anytime soon your cycle time is bloated, or reviews take considerably high time, you know where to start patching, and fixing. 

3. Use 1:1s To Ensure Sprint Success & Delivery 

When fueled with contextual data, 1:1s can also become mini-sprint, personalized discussions for EMs to map the impact of IC’s contributions on sprint success, and ensure they are delivering on the right things. 

The idea is to improve your understanding of the reality of engineering work across the business verticals. 

See your developer’s work in progress for the ongoing sprint- issues, PR cycle time,  infrastructure maintenance, number of story points completed. 

Look out for any red flags or sudden dip/spike in your sprint metrics. 

With contextual data and an engineering management platform in their arsenal, ensure a targeted and successful sprint. Help your direct report to understand: 

  • New issues/story points added to the sprint, and how they map with the overall delivery of the ongoing projects.  
  • Planned vs unplanned work done by your developers. If one developer is struggling to deliver on planned work, an intentional view into effort alignment metrics will give a clear picture of where your dev’s efforts are being spent. It’s a quick check to ensure your devs are working on business priorities, or filing, and solving unexpected work. 
  • Here’s a snapshot from Hatica’s Effort Alignment Dashboard that enables engineering leaders to zoom-in to all these data points at once over varying time intervals.
Snapshot from Hatica’s Effort Alignment Dashboard
  • Issue Type and Priority at project level to take up in a given sprint cycle or week’s duration, so that developers can optimize their work and achieve engineering goals
  • Effort and Time spent across projects. Where are we spending most of our time? Are we focusing more on taking down bugs, removing technical debt, or completing sprint stories? The workload allocation metric is an intrinsic breakdown of your developer’s efforts, and where it fits in the overall development process. The metrics are correlated to your developer’s happiness as well.

It is important to communicate with your developers and engineering team at large to understand workload distribution, delivery schedule and remaining effort that needs to be put in to achieve the throughput. 

Using data-driven 1:1s for engineering teams can help you bridge the gap, overcome any hesitancy on the part of devs to communicate these recurring concerns and ultimately streamline the engineering operations. 

4. Support Developer Well-Being 

1:1s are also the space for you to engage in conversations around the developer’s well-being. 

With the activity heat map, engineering managers/leaders can visualize the work pattern of their direct reports, and if they are working outside of regular work-hours or constantly keeping the lights on. 

Activity heat map to visualize the work pattern of engineers

Moreover, maker time metrics can help you understand how many focus hours are available to your dev to complete cognitively tasking work- writing & reviewing code, designing architecture, etc.

If your IC is encountering back to back meetings, the meeting time metrics can help you to streamline your IC’s high meeting hours: pair programming, sync work, interview & incident load so they don’t have to compromise on their deep work hours, and core tasks. 

Meeting time breakdown for engineering teams
Maker time metrics for engineering teams

These indicators can later become your team’s litmus test in preempting burnout, and to know if your devs are constantly stressed, overworked, and even compromising on their work-life balance.   

Data-driven 1:1s bring “real” difference to how your engineering teams work, operate, communicate, and deliver. 

Engineering @Hatica is a live testimony to how an effective 1:1 culture can help unlock your team’s productivity, achieve maximum potential while constantly plugging development bottlenecks. 

Haritabh Singh, Hatica’s CTO has a stronger affinity for data-driven 1:1s, and now we know why. For him, it is a one stop place to not just get the most accurate answers, but more so to ask the right questions and enable his team. 

Instead of asking his senior software engineer, what derailed their sprint flow, Haritabh looks at contextual data points, and visualizes work activities, and blockers with his ICs. 

With actionable insights in his arsenal, Haritabh was able to shift the entire conversation to how we can balance between your high interview load, active meeting time, and pair programming efforts.  

Haritabh isn’t the only engineering leader who deployed Hatica to transform their engineering 1:1s. Amenify, a Silicon Valley PropTech startup improved their cycle time by 18%, and significant improvement in team well-being– all with carefully orchestrated insights using engineering analytics. 

Bottom Line: Building a Culture of Data-Driven 1:1s with Hatica

Morals, and good intentions alone cannot drive long-term growth in an engineering team. What engineering managers need is a pragmatic engineering management platform that ties your engineering efforts with business impact, helping devs to understand their work in the overall product cycle.

A lack of targeted conversation with EM and their direct reports can plague their relationship with prejudice, and lack of command on resource allocation. 

As a result, great engineering managers are embracing data-driven 1:1s, as not an add-on, but rather a foundational exercise towards team-building, and bringing developer conversations at the center-stage.

To truly understand your devs better, and empower them in realizing their full potential as a mentor, or leader– what better can an engineering manager aspire for than a hard-hitting, and actionable roadmap created during a data-driven 1:1?  

Hatica does just that, to help you build healthy, and sound relationships with your developers, and in turn, helping your devs nurture a productive relationship with how they manage their workflows, groom junior devs, upskill themselves, and evolve continuously, and consistently.

Data-driven 1:1s are a chance for your team to streamline delivery velocity, speed up product development, drive productivity by connecting all the missing, and relevant dots in your engineering processes. 

Those at the forefront of experimenting with data-driven 1:1s have reported better day-to-day output, productive and happier devs, and a psychological safe space for  development teams.  

This is the essence of conducting impactful one-on-one meetings, a non-negotiable component of every-evolving, growth-centric engineering teams. 

Building on this culture is continuous work, and Hatica is here to empower engineering teams in doing their best work. Grab a free demo today→ 

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Table of Contents
  • What are 1:1 Meetings & Why To Have Them With Your Direct Reports?
  • The Challenges in Running Effective 1:1s
  • Bring Actionable Data Into Your Conversations–Take Your 1:1 Meetings To Next Level
  • 1. Single Source of Truth To Drive Engineering Impact 
  • 2. Understand Operational Blockers, and Improve PR Hygiene 
  • 3. Use 1:1s To Ensure Sprint Success & Delivery 
  • 4. Support Developer Well-Being 
  • Bottom Line: Building a Culture of Data-Driven 1:1s with Hatica

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Overview dashboard from Hatica