New CTO Tips

As an engineer, I am always looking to leverage tools and processes to make my life more efficient. I have been managing people for a good part of my career, but when I made the leap to leading a larger organization most of the tips/tricks I have learned didn't necessarily scale. Your goal must be to optimize your time to solve problems where technology can accelerate the business and product.

Time Management

If you are lucky enough to have an executive assistant they can work with you to ensure that you are using your time as effectively as possible. But not everyone is that lucky so here are a few tips that will set you up right. Guard your time wisely; the less you waste the less personal time you'll be spending.

  1. Ask for and review agendas for your meetings. Otherwise cancel it.
  2. Try to schedule the bulk of your 1:1 meetings on the same day each week.
  3. Use color coded calendar categories to manage your day at a glance.
  4. Set aside blocks of time for administrative chores. Yes, that includes reviewing and answering emails.
  5. Use the "out of office" meeting designation to block out personal time.

Equipment

Most people will receive their work equipment on the first day that they start and, unless you're in an extremely progressive organization, will rarely have a say in the make or model. Remember: you're the head tech guy so you can basically get whatever you want but don't abuse the privilege.

  1. That standing desk is most likely a waste of money but a good desk chair isn't.
  2. Invest in a good pair of wireless headphones. You're going to be using them.
  3. One big, high-resolution monitor goes a lot further than two or three.
  4. A laptop with one USB-C connection for charging, video and peripherals is pretty much panacea.
  5. Use a wired microphone for important meetings. It really does sound better.

People

This is where you'll end up spending most of your time because people are the lifeblood of any organization. It is the truth that culture will eat strategy for breakfast, lunch and dinner; so its important to work well with your peers. But it doesn't stop there: be ready to go in front of customers and prospects.

  1. Most problems aren't technical and won't be solved with technology.
  2. You shouldn't be making technical decisions. If you are, that's a problem.
  3. It is your job to convince the business and product teams that agile isn't magic.
  4. Talk to your exiting employees. You'll always learn something.
  5. Don't play politics with your team.

I do not think that any of these are unique to the type or size of the organization. There is only so much energy and time that you can input into the system. So spend your time wisely.

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