Swizec Teller - a geek with a hatswizec.com

Senior Mindset Book

Get promoted, earn a bigger salary, work for top companies

Senior Engineer Mindset cover
Learn more

    The Wally Reflector

    Ever feel like between all the meetings and slacks and emails and pings and pongs and this question and that question and quick request here and quick request there you barely have time to think, let alone the deep focused work?

    Me too!

    Here's a tool that I've found can help – The Wally Reflector.

    The Wally Reflector
    The Wally Reflector

    You ask anyone with a great idea to take the first step and usually you'll never hear from them again. Oh well, guess it wasn't important enough to use their time.

    Why you need The Wally Reflector

    As you grow in your role, you get to a point where the number of incoming "quick requests" outpaces your ability to keep up.

    People think they're just asking for a quick 10 minutes of your time, what's the big deal. But they don't see the other 20 people doing the same thing. If you devote 200min+ (3h) of every day to fulfilling others' requests, when will you have time to do your own work?

    The problem grows only worse the higher in the org chart (formal or informal) you get.

    Someone like a VPofEng may have 100 people asking "quick questions" all the time. Without the Wally Reflector, there's literally not enough time in the day to even have all these conversations, let alone do anything about 'em.

    That's when this happens:

    Average time spent writing one e-mail

    The positive Wally Reflector

    On my team we like to use The Wally Reflector for code improvements. The kind that fit into an hour of your time and aren't big sweeping changes that need a real project.

    Someone says "Hey we should change so and so to follow the foobar pattern"

    Great idea! Love it. Make it so.

    And then usually nothing happens. But sometimes it does.

    Those moments are like magic. The engineer with an idea feels validated and empowered to make changes they think are important. Next time they might not even ask! They'll just do the important thing 😍

    You're saying "It's your ship, this is your call. You're the expert in this area, not me. If you think it's important, make it happen."

    That's how you empower people. Validate their ideas, grant your permission, and move out of the way.


    PS: the secret ingredient is building enough slack into the roadmap so people have time for these things

    Published on July 27th, 2023 in Leadership

    Did you enjoy this article?

    Continue reading about The Wally Reflector

    Semantically similar articles hand-picked by GPT-4

    Senior Mindset Book

    Get promoted, earn a bigger salary, work for top companies

    Learn more

    Have a burning question that you think I can answer? Hit me up on twitter and I'll do my best.

    Who am I and who do I help? I'm Swizec Teller and I turn coders into engineers with "Raw and honest from the heart!" writing. No bullshit. Real insights into the career and skills of a modern software engineer.

    Want to become a true senior engineer? Take ownership, have autonomy, and be a force multiplier on your team. The Senior Engineer Mindset ebook can help 👉 swizec.com/senior-mindset. These are the shifts in mindset that unlocked my career.

    Curious about Serverless and the modern backend? Check out Serverless Handbook, for frontend engineers 👉 ServerlessHandbook.dev

    Want to Stop copy pasting D3 examples and create data visualizations of your own? Learn how to build scalable dataviz React components your whole team can understand with React for Data Visualization

    Want to get my best emails on JavaScript, React, Serverless, Fullstack Web, or Indie Hacking? Check out swizec.com/collections

    Did someone amazing share this letter with you? Wonderful! You can sign up for my weekly letters for software engineers on their path to greatness, here: swizec.com/blog

    Want to brush up on your modern JavaScript syntax? Check out my interactive cheatsheet: es6cheatsheet.com

    By the way, just in case no one has told you it yet today: I love and appreciate you for who you are ❤️

    Created by Swizec with ❤️