How to Advocate for your Team: Everything You Need to Know with Mallika Rao

Published on Jan 1, 1970

27 min read

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[Watch on YouTube]( In this video, **Mallika Rao, engineering manager at Twitter,** explains what it means to advocate for your team and how to do it effectively. She shares her perspective and tips on the promotion process, how to develop strong promo packets, why to be aggressive on promotions, working with committees, and many other tips for advancing your direct reports’ careers as engineers. This video is a must-watch if you’re looking to be an effective advocate and earn the loyalty of your team! We also discuss hiring and managing multiple teams and remote and cross-geographical team-building. CHAPTERS -------- [0:00]( Introduction [0:23]( What does advocacy mean? [3:30]( Tips for moving forward promo packets [5:45]( Why be aggressive on promotions? [7:27]( Three things that managers should do [10:05]( Time spent at the company [14:00]( Addressing unwritten rules and expectations [19:40]( Why did you become so passionate about advocacy? [24:12]( Lessons you have learned managing multiple teams since being on ManagersClub last year [26:10]( How has hiring changed since the pandemic? [28:57]( Offsite and team-building activities [32:49]( Where could people go if they wanted to connect with you or learn more about you afterward? RESOURCES --------- ⭐️ [\](\_description&redir\_token=QUFFLUhqblNHaVc4UzNQTUtOUzh5cmtRN2xwUXJLM0R4UXxBQ3Jtc0ttZ0JHYmxYaVNXeW5iaE85WWE4amlNdkRmWnNCOHBHZDRQQUd5Y1JpVWJveDZCNE1TSXdpME9udTZHdVZGWGxkaEhTMU9MTHk4X2FEVmxLQll3WEQ2NDN0bDBnZ01YMjVwRzluRkZvYVpqZ2swbEFuUQ& ⭐️ [\](\_description&redir\_token=QUFFLUhqbTBDd2k4dDZ2bEFjcldkT3Z3ZmtSUVJqckhoQXxBQ3Jtc0ttYzQyY1M0RHhLRmhNWEpPRW4xTGFCOTUzaW1GQ2NiQldDNmZ0QzNmcG9TSUk0NlNGTm5Sal9Ib0ppSkQzSWVlRndocW5HTFlRZkcxOEh4OUZnRlhSamVlRUdzS00waVNDeFhGdG5iRjVsVFhfRENGOA& ⭐️ [\](\_description&redir\_token=QUFFLUhqbVlFMFBZTlJtaUZNSVl3VTNjY1V2LVVGLW9CQXxBQ3Jtc0ttV3VTb3hkVlQ5OUswSzRlSGZ1QWFVaGdfMGFJWFFzdUpkVndqS3dOOExmVTRORTZWOWM0Y3h1Mlp5SnBENUhIa2RFSDc3b0c5elVBbWFZX1FpSmhzclJkX2lQOUZkMnNOa1BsUVFxenhIWmc1OFFjbw& [**Check out Mallika’s Interview in January 2021**]( TRANSCRIPT ---------- **Vidal:** \[00:00:00\] Today I have with Mallika Rao, engineering manager at Twitter. And Mallika was previously on Manager’s Club in January, 2021. So welcome back. **Malika:** Thank you so much, Vidal. Thank you so much for having me back. It’s always a pleasure to be talking to you. **Vidal:** Likewise. Why don’t we jump right in. We were talking earlier about advocacy and advocating for the members of your staff. Could you speak a little bit about advocacy and what that means? **Malika:** Yes. It’s been very close to my heart since the past two \[00:00:30\] years if not more. And I’ve been learning a lot of lessons as I think more about it. And I navigate various situations at work. And I’m convinced that it’s one of those high leverage topics that I want to invest more time in If I want to build a healthy team and sustain it and try to maintain that state. I feel like it has so much potential and sometimes it’s not talked about enough or it’s overlooked. Where we talk a lot about process strategy and maybe \[00:01:00\] some of the other topics like delegation, negotiation, influence, which I have thought about a lot in the past, but advocacy has been a recent one where if I want to work with great engineers, if we have a great vision that we’re kinda chasing then growth and advocacy is like my primary responsibility. So that’s what I mean by advocacy where we’re truly rooting for someone. We’re truly looking out for someone’s growth. **Vidal:** Yeah. So by this you mean like for example, fighting for people. Perhaps you’re dealing with \[00:01:30\] biases, prejudices that people have. You’re trying to get the members of your team advanced, promoted. This is what we’re **Malika:** talking about. Absolutely. That’s where most of the value is in promotions and up-leveling people. But it starts small as well. Where you’re looking out for your team members in meetings or how do they show up? To the status meetings perhaps, small things like that or how do they how are they writing proposals? How are they showing up on technical documents? Maybe \[00:02:00\] company level proposals you’re looking out for them where that you want to advocate for them sometime in the future. So it starts there as well where on a daily basis you’re truly looking out for people’s strengths and what are their areas to improve. And then of course when time comes to act. I think as a manager, I’ve always felt. Arguably I know my team the best. I know each of them. Where do they want to go? What is important to them? What are their strengths and what is it that they’re trying to work on right now? And it’s my \[00:02:30\] responsibility to speak to it in a promotion committee or write a packet that is strong. Different companies do promotions differently. But let’s say there is a promotion packet that we take to a committee how strong is that packet? Am I thinking about all the data? Am I leaving out stuff? Am I preparing supplemental material? So all that I think goes into it . And personally I have seen all sorts of biases. Starting with how much time have you spent at the company to, various levels of \[00:03:00\] diversity factors that you have to keep in mind when you do these kind of things as a manager so that you are prepared when you go to the committee and you have. To be able to speak to it which makes the case so much more easier to defend. I always go in as a defense lawyer when I’m writings. I feel I’m taking all this and I to my team. So all of that, I feel. **Vidal:** I think it would be great to have you as my lawyer and advocate. So I think that’s awesome that you fight for your \[00:03:30\] people. Do you have any advice for managers who yeah, they’re trying to put up promo packets, Maybe they’re encountering some headwinds, and what has worked for you in getting these packets moved? Yeah. **Malika:** I would say in my experience, I felt it starts with managing the expectations correctly with the team member that I’m trying to promote. There is a company, there is a system, there are rubrics as to how someone can get promoted. First starting a little \[00:04:00\] bit early when my team member is starting to talk about it. Just be transparent with them about how the system works. What are the rubrics, what are the expectations so that I can grow them into that state where I feel confident to actually take their packet to the committee uh, that’s number one. Number two, I don’t really believe in the fact that we have to be “fully prepared” because that fully prepared state is it’s not always easy to kind define, right? As, as long as I understand the rubrics of the system, as \[00:04:30\] long as my team member understands the rubric of the system as to how one can get promoted from let’s say level one to level two and we are kinda putting a tick mark to most of those critical stuff, and I see a potential for a few of them that they need to grow into. I feel like that’s the right time where we can write the packet instead of waiting another quarter or, maybe a couple more quarters. Yeah. Like as a manager, I want to be aggressive about it. It’s I just don’t like to coach my team members \[00:05:00\] saying that, Hey, be aggressive about your growth. Think about your growth, but I want to be aggressive for them as well. And that’s where I feel excited about taking a packet to the committee. Otherwise, we waited too long and what. What’s special that I’m doing as a manager of taking that packet to the committee, right? It’s, anyways, an over-prepared packet. So I feel like that is where I can add value. **Vidal:** I was gonna say, I love this because I’ll hear a lot of managers say I don’t wanna move this packet forward until like it’s a slam dunk. And \[00:05:30\] then if it waits till It’s a slam dunk, then what is the manager really doing? Anyone could present the packet is what you’re saying. So your value added is you’re more aggressive and you’re trying to like to actually move them. Like it doesn’t have to be a hundred percent on everything, is what I’m hearing. **Malika:**  Yeah, that’s what I feel like. And it’s not easy because you are going against the waters and you have to convince your upward management. Maybe whoever is part of the committee, but that’s where I say that it’s about understanding the system. If you know what questions they have, if if you can kinda \[00:06:00\] second guess what could be their concerns? I usually like to prepare a supplement packet where I add it as an appendix where I’m like, I know this question might come up here’s more data to it. Or something like that where, you know and that’s where I feel I can be more responsible with my preparation towards the packet. So that’s really one of it. The second thing that has really helped me is really sitting through these promotion committees, even when I’m not putting up any packets for let’s say this quarter, I still sit through them. \[00:06:30\] Maybe, it’s not easy to sit through them as well because you need someone to approve that. But if you can build that relationship, and if you can have genuine reasons as to why you want to do that and you wanna learn something, then that has added a lot of value to me where I know how the committee thinks more or less, even if the people are changing you know where they’re coming from. **Vidal:** Think that’s awesome. I totally agree with you. So at Uber we had these centralized promo committees, and I volunteered to be on the committees even when I didn’t have anyone because I got the insider’s view, right? This is \[00:07:00\] how people in the committee look at stuff. So I could go back to my team, I could say, Okay, listen, this is. You know, is, Is happening there, What you, what we need to prepare. So I think that’s super valuable. Yeah, absolutely. I know that now you manage multiple teams, right? So you’ve grown as an engineering leader. How do you go about scaling your philosophy of advocacy across your organization? **Malika:** Yeah. I would say it happens in a few directions, right? So one is downward where you \[00:07:30\] need to do certain things with your team so that when the time is right, you can actually think about providing that advocacy in action to them. And then I do I like to do a few things even sideways, learn. Peers or be there in certain meetings so that we can talk about the problems or lack of opportunities, how to find those opportunities for the team members and things like that. So I feel like those relationships that I have built sideways has also gone a long way when I \[00:08:00\] have had to manage multiple charters and and a bigger team and multiple teams. And third is of course, managing expectations upwards, like just knowing what your skip level thinks about it. What does the approve think about it? How do peers write feedback, and how can we actually empower the peers to write feedback in such a way that it’s clear to me as a manager whether I can put up this packet for review or not. So it’s multiple things and I, I’ll provide a couple of points in. Each of these three \[00:08:30\] directions, right? So downward with my team, I would say, just making sure that I’m running these peer feedbacks every six months so that if people are leaving and joining the team, I always have a current state of view for every person as to what their peers are writing. Let’s say I need to write a packet at six months from now. Even if a couple of people have left the team, it’s not like I’m missing any data. Simple things like that and having, using tools where I can actually keep a clear view of, how has this \[00:09:00\] person evolved. And then I think sideways is really valuable where, let’s say we are having org level discussions about how to grow people, just making my opinions heard there and like concerns that I have about, let’s say, promoting from staff to senior staff, as an example, is really hard in a certain team because there are no opportunities. How do we create opportunities or can we embed them into another team, so they can get those opportunities and an opportunity to show what are their \[00:09:30\] capabilities things like that. I get a lot of support from my peers because some of them also face similar problems. And then it becomes a bolstered view when we take it for any kind of change that we want. Let’s say the rubrics or how the committee works or what are we really holding people accountable for if there are no opportunities and things like that. I think building those peer relationships. Has helped me a lot because it’s a stronger voice if I can gather more peers who are having similar problems. And of course, I think upward \[00:10:00\] management there’s always pushback when I somehow, I feel like there’s always pushback when they’re trying to promote someone. Especially, one of the common things I’ve seen is time spent in a company and I. Never really understood that. And I tried to like, put up a good fight against that. I’m not saying I’m always successful, but that’s important to me where you’re paying attention to, what is that impact? And personally, I feel time spent in a company is not really a good metric at all to \[00:10:30\] decide whether they should be put up for promotion at all. So often it’s about providing that data to the upper management. As to why it’s important to take this packet or Yeah. Even be prepared with some of their concerns when it comes up. **Vidal:** Can I just say something there? I was talking with someone else about this and Yeah. A lot of companies have these rubrics, right? And to your point, I almost never see in the rubric spent N number of years at the company or and spent N number \[00:11:00\] of years at a level. But yet a lot of people do implicitly have this assumption that you should spend so many years. So it’s really interesting you point that out. Absolutely. Please continue. **Malika:** Yeah, exactly. I think it’s it’s a very neat way to leave things unsaid in the rubric. And then, we hold people accountable for things that we shouldn’t when it comes to their growth. And I feel like growth is one of the biggest incentives that we can give to someone. Apart from the monetary benefits the other \[00:11:30\] benefits that a company. And all the perks and things like that. If you wanna retain good engineers what is our process for designing a path for their growth? And talking about scale, I think it’s about what really has worked for me is. Talking about these things transparently with the team. Every single time I take a packet to the committee, just sharing a few things about how the committee works or how they should be thinking about their growth or just making promotions and open conversation in their team. It’s a healthy \[00:12:00\] conversation where everyone can talk about it. I’ve built a system where whenever we prepare these promo worksheets, like that is what my team gives me when I’m trying to prepare a packet. Before I prepare a packet. I just take that as an input. When someone else has gotten promoted inside the team, they’re always coaching this to be promoted person how to write their worksheets. What is useful, how to put numbers, how to quantify impact and things like that so that they can help me prepare a stronger packet for them. So it’s about building \[00:12:30\] this philosophy in all the team members as well, where it’s healthy think about growth. It’s healthy to help each other out. It’s not a zero sum game. There’s growth for everyone. As peers can we help out each other and delegating. Thought process, I guess to my team has been a major payoff for me. So senior engineers and staff engineers are thinking about this way, so that they’re always creating opportunities for junior engineers in the team. So that is the only way I can scale this \[00:13:00\] or even the new people that hire, that I hire in the team What is their philosophy about growth? How do they think about helping out people? Specifically in terms of like promotions and thinking about levels? For example, like I’ve had a staff engineer who actually gave up on a project because they had gone through a promotion already, but now they were thinking about a junior engineer and. It’s better if they pick this up because I know they’re being put up for a promotion next quarter. So I feel like building this \[00:13:30\] philosophy has helped me scale when I’m managing like multiple teams and I don’t have the time to always get into the weeds with each of them. But that delegation has really helped me. **Vidal:** No, this is great. I’m so impressed by how passionate you are about this. I wanna ask you a question about rubrics, right? So we talked about rubrics and preparing packets and all that, and I dunno if you would agree with this or not, but at junior levels, right? A lot of the promo can be checking off boxes in the \[00:14:00\] rubrics, right? Like they met this skill, that skill, the other skill. But as you get further up more of these things are not written. This can be a point of bias. It can also just be how someone is perceived by others or their relationships. There’s kind of these unwritten aspects I find, especially as you get higher and higher. I don’t know if you agree with that or do you have any thoughts on the unwritten stuff? **Malika:** Yes that’s a tricky one. It’s really \[00:14:30\] hard to set oneself up for success especially, senior engineer and about. I’ve seen especially staff, senior staff it’s called as relationship building, right? Or how do they manage relationships? Like cross team relationships or relationships with, let’s say product managers or maybe a group that lead from another organization and what is their what’s their approach to relationship management, or, that’s an example, but there are a lot of such unset things. I find that very tricky.\[00:15:00\] There’s no golden formula for it, but how I think about it is it’s really important. Unfortunately, it’s very important to know who is the approver of these promotions and what is it that it’s important for them, right? How do they think and you know is there a pattern for the kind of concerns that they’re raising in the quarterly that have happened in the past? I think paying a lot of keen attention to that is important. Second thing is if there is an image that’s \[00:15:30\] already built, and if the system is paying attention to Bias or a certain kind of image or maybe it’s maybe this person doesn’t have the best image built with the approve per se, but they have like strong peer feedbacks and strong recommendations from everyone else. How can we change the narrative? How can I really provide the right kind of data where it can be said that, Hey, we have a system where we are collecting like 20 PR feedbacks for a reason, and there are 20 strong yeses. \[00:16:00\] Do we really have enough data to like, go against it? I would like to know that. What is that? So pushing back on the essentials whenever, let’s say, there’s a lot of resistance for a packet being very data oriented. Is important. And in the past there was an example where I knew that this person had probably did not have the best of the image built because they’re an engineer and they have a certain way of communicating and. Probably, the app approver or maybe even the skip level didn’t even know \[00:16:30\] this person so well. But they had so many qualifications for taking this packet. Then it’s about, for me, it was about having an honest conversation with the. Probably just set up a few meetings or try to bridge that gap as much as possible without trying too hard. So it’s about doing everything we can towards that process. But I think the crux of the problem is How these rubrics are written. So I’m part of an effort where, can we change the promotion process all \[00:17:00\] together, right? Can we write better rubrics? Can we have a better process where it’s more deterministic for every level? And what is what is it that we are taking into consideration as we’re writing these rubrics? Who are we consulting? Who are, who is writing these rubrics for these various levels, right? Are engineers part of it? If we’re writing the rubrics for senior staff, how many senior staff people were part of that process and things like that. That is an effort in that direction as well. But. I don’t like to get very philosophical and keep \[00:17:30\] my efforts abstract about these. I also like to coach my engineers and tell them that it’s what it is. How will you work the system, right? Let’s come up with a plan for that Doing everything we can from all directions is also kinda important. That’s why I feel like I go in there as a defense lawyer even though it’s everything is my team, like my managers, my team’s actually my team. Like it’s always okay. Is this what you want? This is what I have. Oh, but this was not on the rubric. So it’s constant deflections and the \[00:18:00\] data that you take to the table to be able to make a good case. I don’t have a good answer for this except to empathize with the fact that rubrics are not perfect and I almost feel like it’s for a purposeful reason. And how do I get creative about it? Yeah, that’s gonna be my response to it. **Vidal:** It’s interesting you compare yourself to a defense lawyer, right? So you feel that your direct is under attack then sometimes, and you have to defend them. **Malika:** Yes. Pretty much that’s how I have felt about promotion \[00:18:30\] committees, where they want reasons to it’s almost start to say no, starting with a no. Yeah. Yeah. It’s almost starting with a no. Okay. And then they want reasons to turn that into a Yes. So it’s always it starts with a list of things that I need to come up with to be able to give that confidence to them. And I truly feel that the success of a packet depends on, what is the manager’s narrative, how passionate are they in the committee? And I’ve seen it go sideways just because of how the manager showed up in the \[00:19:00\] meeting, or how they wrote a packet. That’s where I feel so responsible and scared sometimes even when I’m writing a packet as to leaving out details or, cause it’s another person’s growth stake, right? Of course every company is different, but more or less, I’ve seen general patterns like this in all the companies that I work for and manage teams. **Vidal:** Yeah. No, it’s super important to the candidate you’re putting up. To them. This is super, super important. So it’s, let me, So you are super \[00:19:30\] passionate about this. I can tell. I think it’s great. You try to be aggressive in it and you really trying to defend your people very strongly. Could you say, why did you, why is this so important to you? Wh how did you become so passionate about this topic in particular of advocacy? **Malika:** Yeah. I think it really started with me. I work for startups and big companies and I’ve always felt of all the other \[00:20:00\] remunerations when we are proactively and passionately working towards something. When I was an engineer, when I became an engineering manager Through the roles, I feel like to really get the best out of me. I wanted someone to advocate for my growth. And of course there would be times when I needed to like work on my areas to improve. That’s of course another conversation. But when the time is right I really looked up to someone where they could actually advocate for me. And it was important \[00:20:30\] for the kind of value that I was bringing to the table. Growth is personal and that’s how I feel about it. Whereas everything else is coming from a team’s direction, right? You need to be aligned. You are actually delivering for the team. You’re thinking about the team first. Growth is very personal to me. And I think about it in the same way for all my team members as well. Second thing is all the good managers that I’ve worked for always thought about it in a very passionate way, and I’ve been lucky to work for managers like that where and. It \[00:21:00\] actually ties into, a healthy team, a healthy product a product that’s actually innovative, thinking about the future. It has a good strategy. We are hiring more or, like we, we have a plan and we have a vision, such teams and such managers. What are passionate about growth. And now I understand that it, it was for good reasons. So I’m influenced by Such examples as well. And third thing is I think it’s functional. There’s no way around it. If you wanna have good engineers working in our team, good people working in our \[00:21:30\] team I think that’s what they look for. When people wanna join my team. That’s the number one question that they ask for what are the chances for growth? Of course they’re passionate about what we’re building and the product and the charter and all that, but as a manager, I think, like that’s one of the questions that I get asked a lot when people are branching in or joining my team. So I’m convinced that it’s, that’s why it’s so important to be able to. Good engineering teams, and if you have a good product strategy you need good people. \[00:22:00\] So hiring is of course the other side of the coin, like also like the growth for the current people in your team. So yeah, that’s really the purpose behind it. **Vidal:** This is so awesome that you value this so highly. Your team members must love you because you’re right, you’re gonna have all these great strategies and all these great products, but you’re also clearly very passionate about their development and their advancement and you see us all the time. I was having lunch with a friend of mine. He’s a VP at a very large corporation and he’s just telling me, yes, \[00:22:30\] same thing. If people don’t get promoted right, they leave. He loses them to other teams, to other companies. That’s a one reason that people leave often. It’s “Hey, there was no career advancement in my op group.” like you hear that a lot, right? You interview people. Why’d you leave? There were no opportunities to advance and stuff, so it’s really awesome that you provide that for people. **Malika:** I’ll give you another example where it’s not always easy and it’s not a very clear cut path where you are, you’re working with someone towards that promotion. Sometimes \[00:23:00\] even they don’t know that they’re ready for a promotion because maybe they don’t they’re not studied the rubrics or they don’t understand the layout of it exactly the way it’s but. Really coaching them and you are thinking about their growth. And then this person actually went to another team and that packet was put up by another manager and all their the impact and accomplishments were from this previous team. And they messaged me saying Hey, that went a long way. Thank you so much for that tough love. Finding those opportunities and \[00:23:30\] like looking out for me, I think it’s those small instances that really keep motivating to keep doing what we’re doing. And those kinda things happen, right? So you are trying to manage someone’s growth and they believe my team and someone else, but that’s great too, as long as you know it’s working out and the result is their growth in the end. So yeah, it’s not always green, but it’s very promising. **Vidal:** Yeah, It’s difficult, but you clearly prioritize \[00:24:00\] people’s career growth very highly, and so that’s just awesome. Um, well, I wanna just switch gears here. It’s been two years since you were on the show in those years you’ve grown a lot and so could you share with us any lessons you might have learned in the last two years? **Malika:** Yeah, lots of lessons. I guess the primary one was when we are thinking about multiple charters or let’s say thinking about managing multiple product lines, then uh, the biggest lesson that I \[00:24:30\] learned when I was going from one to many was how do I continue to think about big pictures? Because every time I would try to think about the big picture from some of the, basics that I would’ve learned, I would fall back to paying a lot of attention to detail or like getting lost in the process or the execution part of it. But the lesson that I learned and it’s been really valuable is thinking about the big picture and having the right people so that they can pay attention to the \[00:25:00\] details. It’s delegation to put it in other words, but that’s not the tricky part for me. It’s about how do I scale the way I think? And can I provide that thought leadership to my team and to my teams? How do you really customize your processes, your systems? For me it’s always been with uh, the ability to think big. And what I mean by that is paying attention to, where do you want to take this product in the next three years? Uh, Building the right vision, building the right \[00:25:30\] relationships across the orgs, knowing who is responsible for certain kinds of decisions. Where are they coming from or what are their concerns? And focusing on problems like that. And not really getting engaged in some of the details that are happening in. These teams, which could be a little diverse. **Vidal:** Yeah. So thinking big, you’re upleveling, you’re thinking to the bigger picture is what I’m hearing. Yes. Okay. I’m gonna touch you. Something else has changed since we last spoke, with the pandemic. So at \[00:26:00\] the company I’m. before the pandemic, we pretty much hired everyone, in the Bay Area. And now after the pandemic, I hire people all over the country. And I assume you do too. So for you, how has hiring changed and now that you hire people remotely? **Malika:** Yes. Twitter’s been a very remote friendly company. One of the first companies to actually go remote, even, pandemic, Pre pandemic. And like the principles are very deep rooted. And we also pay a lot of \[00:26:30\] attention to diversity and inclusion. All the way from hiring to, how the teams are built. So for me, I think talking about remote teams is almost like a given now. It’s not even a question or it’s like a default state. The question is always about how do we continually up our game so that we can bridge that gap? The things that we miss when we are interacting in person, when we are having lunch time conversations or whiteboarding stuff. How can I create that? And \[00:27:00\] there are always new ways to do that, especially with the team changing, with the company changing or just new things available outside as well to help us bridge that gap. So I’m always looking out for those kinda stuff. For example go ahead. Yeah, like onboarding, I feel like is one of the primary factors that adds to the success of hiring remote and having a remote team. I have a very cross geographical team. In fact, not a single place \[00:27:30\] actually has a concentration of more than two people. It’s very cross geographical. And in that case, I had to come up with with an onboarding program. Of course, Twitter has a fantastic onboarding program. We call it flight school. But you know when once someone lands in my team, what does the onboard. Procedure is it a process? Is it a template? Can I delegate the onboarding process where the coachs or the mentor just takes it off and provides a consistent experience to the members? So it starts with simple things like that. And then \[00:28:00\] of course, like. What is a team, right? Like I used to work at Cisco and a team would be like a pod where everyone, all the members of the team are sitting around each other and it’s like a single floor. So we feel like a team when we do certain things or when we have lunch together or we go to a meeting room together. So I think a lot about that as to what is a team, right? Is it just about like JIRA tickets, a symbol that connects all of our \[00:28:30\] tickets together and we come to status meetings and we work together, we deliver stuff. Is that our team? But it’s mostly about those relationships or knowing people or especially when there are those situations where we have to fill in and like actually work like how a football team works, right? How do you build that camaraderie? So it’s very hard. So putting in systems in place all the way from, we have done, we have tried everything like at Airbnb experiences. We have had a seven day offsite in \[00:29:00\] Tahoe last year. Or, doing everything we can as a team. We have something called a thinking lounge where we just come together and chat. Every Wednesday we can talk about anything. It’s not a meeting, it’s just a space, creating spaces where people can come and talk and. Just hangout. It’s not a happy hour it’s thinking long. Just there are lounges in offices where we can come together and talk. So that is where I find the challenge in where we am constantly thinking about the real world scenario, \[00:29:30\] how to map it to the remote world. Of course, we’re lose something, but can we come close to it? **Vidal:** The Thinking Lounge is virtual. It’s virtual . It’s just, And one of these things has worked best for you. Go meeting. Yeah. Okay. So just a standing Google meeting. So yeah, I’ve tried Airbnb experiences. They’re fun. You did a seven day offsite. Anything else you tried that worked well? **Malika:** Let me think. I think With respect to remote hiring? Or even like building you, you mean to say with respect to \[00:30:00\] building that, **Vidal:** the remote team building? Yeah. I think it’s also like my team, like we’ll play games online and things like that. Go ahead. Yeah. **Malika:** So yeah, I think like process wise, we have, we’ve had a lot of success with offsite. That’s a website actually O F F S Y T E so apart from Airbnb experiences that’s worked out really well where they send out yoga kids or they send out cooking kits or cocktail kit to each of the team members’s house, \[00:30:30\] and we do an activity together. Every Thursday or Friday, whenever is our happy. Yeah, so that’s very hands off where we go there and register as a team. We get our kits, we come together and we do an activity together. All virtual that’s one thing. Airbnb experiences. Now I have delegated it to people where, they pick up the responsibility. The events that they want to register for. And it’s rotating every quarter. Someone takes the responsibility. They have a kitty, they manage the kitty, and but it \[00:31:00\] also builds a lot of ownership in the team. Otherwise, happy hours are hard work. In some teams I’ve seen it’s a big hit and sometimes the team is full of introverts and no one’s going to these happy hours. Building ownership has really worked for me where you pick the event and I feel like the team responds well to their peers. That’s really brought up the attendance as well. Cooking events has been a major success. I know for my teams. But I think more importantly, it’s about building that why for the team as to \[00:31:30\] why these teams are important. Because sometimes as engineers, we tend to think this is not part of our job or, we can skip happy hours and, you’re not accountable. You’re not accountable for it. It’s an optional meeting. Nevertheless, if you come to it, there is a certain unseen advantage, that you’re building for yourself and for your team. So talking about it over communicating as to, like I told you, what builds a football team, right? It’s not a tennis game that we are playing as an engineering team. It’s really like football. Or \[00:32:00\] like a group sport. Yes. So it’s **Vidal:** a team sport. Yeah, it’s a group sport. **Malika:** Exactly. So I think that communication and building that thought process in the team has helped because even if a couple of people are not thinking about it I have seen that it falls apart, right as happy hours are never a success. So I think if all the team can come together and they can think about it in a similar fashion, even if in, even if not in the same way, but in a similar fashion, I think it pays off a little **Vidal:** bit. \[00:32:30\] I think that’s great. Yes. And I always encourage people to go to these events and a lot of them don’t go, but yes, you’re calling out to them that these are some of the advantages. That’s awesome. Yeah. Mallika, it’s been really great to catch up with you. This was really great what you shared about advocacy and the other things. Where can people go if they want to connect with you afterwards? Ask you question. **Malika:** Yeah. I am very active on LinkedIn. In fact, it’s one \[00:33:00\] of my favorite apps and tools. Nice. Yeah, so LinkedIn definitely works out the best. Very responsive there. So if I can, Help out in any way or just have a chat? LinkedIn definitely is the place. I’ll share my email iD as well. Email works great. I’ve had I keep in touch with my mentors via email and also like the people that I coach in outside work as well, so email works well. I write on medium. So I have quite a few articles there, but off late, I’ve not had the time. I \[00:33:30\] just had my baby four months ago, so I’ve been a little busy. But am pretty active on Medium otherwise as well. **Vidal:** Congratulations, by the way. Congratulations. Thank you. Thank you so much Congratulations on your baby. Yes I’ve seen yourself on Medium. Yeah, it’s very good. I’ll put a link to that in the next. Thank you. Thank you. And no, thank you, Malika. It’s been great to have you. **Malika:** Like I said, always a pleasure talking with you. All right. Thank you so much.

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