Passing The Torch Without Dropping The Ball

A replacement plan is a great resource, even when you’re not being replaced.

A year ago, as the role of OpenStack community manager at Red Hat was moving from one person to another, we started thinking about what needs to be in place to effectively transition a role. More generally, we started thinking about planning, and documenting, for your eventual replacement.

We’ll talk about what worked, what didn’t, and what had unexpected benefits for the larger community.

This presentation helps existing and new community managers take a hard look at their roles within their projects to delegate tasks, encourage future advocates, and facilitate the evolution of their community role.

That is the abstract from DevRelCon London 2018 – and I’m totally SQUEE that it was recorded / transcribed / published in this month’s DevRel Newsletter.

Here are my absolute favorite quotes along with some of my fav images used during the actual talk.

[Mary] I’m Mary Thengvall. You can find me at mary_grace on Twitter. If you were in here for Baruch’s talk earlier, I’m the person he kept quoting from, which was really, really, really, weird. But I do have a handful of books if anyone’s interested for after the talk.

But basically, I’m a developer relations consultant. I help companies figure out strategy for dev rel, what the team should look like, what it does look like. And kind of help them figure out what it means for their company specifically.

[Rain] Cool, and I’m Rain Leander. I have not written a book, and have not been quoted today.

[Man] Yet.

[Rain] Yet.

[Rain] …by the way, I work with Red Hat IBM and….

[Mary] That’s all we’ll say about that all day, by the way.

[Rain] No, there will be no questions.

[Rain] So I worked within the engineering department, but there was this person who was actually in charge of RDO, and he was like, “Why don’t you come over and take over this project officially, and then I can go take over this other project and it’ll be cool.”

And I was like, “That’s cool,” and my boss says it’s cool, everyone said it was cool, except that my uterus said that’s Not Cool because we’re going to have twins now. And I was like that’s less cool, but yaaaay. In the Netherlands, you’re allowed to be sick when you’re pregnant, and completely not go to work at all for the entire time when you’re vomiting nonstop every single day.

[Man] What?

[Rain] It’s weird right, really weird, they’re such a weird country. That’s where I live.

[Man] It’s a great country.

[Rain] I think it’s cool. I love living there, I’ve been there for seven years. And basically, when I was having twins and puking every day, I am not exaggerating I weighed less than I weighed with a single child. I was very, very sick and Rich was doing the job of two people.

[Man] Do you have any advice on how to…as a manager, how to incentivize the person leaving to…

[Rain] Write things down.

[Man] To do this, because this is, maybe, sort of above and beyond?

[Mary] Right. So the question is as a manager, how do you incentivize your team to write things down, to document things.

[Rain] And it might be as much as giving them that space. Look on Fridays, every Friday, I’m going to give you space to focus on this project for one hour, from 8 to 9 or something like that. Or if that doesn’t work, it might be okay, during our one on one this week, we’re just going to… and then you help do their outline, and then maybe they flesh it out. Or you offer them cake.

[Mary] I think one major goal to remember too is by writing all of this stuff down, it helps them figure out what isn’t going back up to your goals, right? What isn’t relating back up to, here’s our quarterly goals. So it might be keeping them from actually accomplishing that, which in a sense, almost makes that a team goal, right?

Because you need to be able to solidify this is what we’re doing, these are the only things you’re responsible for, what can we pass off to other people.

[Rain] And the other thing is you can emphasize that as their manager, that’s how you see how awesome they are. That is a clear black and white demonstration of this is all the awesome shit I do.

“Don’t say shit on the stage, Rain.”

Rain at DevRelCon London 2018

I totally said ‘shit’ on the stage.

The talk was still totally awesome.



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