Building Respect in a New Team

Starting in a new team, especially when leading a team of smart engineers, is always a delicate dance.  Learning a new company, forming new friendships, understanding a new application, and likely learning new technologies all at once, what could go wrong?  That first small win where your team begins to trust and respect you is always so rewarding.

This essay does such a great job summarizing the feelings many of us have had:

You start climbing out of The Great (Incorrect) Disappointment with a small unexpected win. No one expected you to fix that, no one knew it was that broken, and no one thought it was that important. When you fixed it, no one really noticed. When the consequences of the fix became obvious, they thought, “He can do that?” Your fix is your first legitimate reputation defining moment because while people were told who you were, they didn’t believe it because people don’t believe what they have not seen. The Great (Incorrect) Disappointment vanishes slowly and quietly each of these smalls wins. The wins don’t feel substantively nor impactful, but they continue to incrementally define who you are to the rest of the team. They start to build a realistic model of you in their minds. You’re not who they expected, it’s not what you expected, but after three months you start to think of this strange place as home.