Managing Mental Health, With Micah Weaver

micah-weaver-scaling-software-teams-podcast

According to the Stack Overflow 2018 Developer Survey, nearly one in five developers say that they struggle with mood disorders, anxiety disorders, or both. Given the long hours, high-stress, and often isolated work environment that many software engineers work in every day - this statistic is hardly surprising.

But despite the mental health struggles this environment can cause, many times it’s precisely this environment that prevents developers from coming forward to share their story.

Micah Weaver, CTO of donor management SaaS company Bloomerang, wants to fix that.

In our conversation, Micah opens up about suffering a panic attack early in his role as CTO and the impact that experience had on his life. We’re eager to share this powerful conversation with you

Listen to the Full Episode Here

We hope this interview encourages you open further dialogue about mental health - whether you’ve experienced these types of issues in your own life, or are simply looking to better understand them in relationship to your development team. It’s entirely possible, after all, that the person who sits next to you every day is struggling, but feels like they can’t talk about it.

As Micah explains, your ability to talk about the importance of taking care of your own mental health could change not just your life, but the lives of those you work with.

Here are a few of the key lessons we picked up from Micah:

Over-communicate the positives

As engineers, we’re wired to focus on what’s not working, and paid to fix things that are broken. Consequently, it’s hard to focus on what’s going right. By putting a special emphasis on over-communicating the positive things that your team does, you can overcome the morale hits that come with the everyday grind of fixing bugs.

Don’t overwork yourself

As Micah’s workload went up, the quality of his work went down - a common trend we see in scale-up mode. While you may think longingly about that wonderful time when you could review every line of code, remember that your growth enables you to hire people you can trust to review your team’s work. You don’t need to be “on” all the time, which leads us to one of our biggest takeaways…

Screen hires for competence and trustworthiness

Whether you’re discussing mental health or reviewing code, trustworthiness is an incredibly important trait to focus on during the interview process. You need to know that every new hire will be able to communicate effectively, take constructive criticism, and lift up team members around them. If your primary concern for your next engineering hire is coding prowess, and not overall talent and team-fit, you’re going to struggle to create a culture of transparency and trust.

Instead, focus on rigorous screening that goes a layer deeper than coding tests and culture interviews, so you know on day one that you’ve made the right hire. This will help you cultivate a workplace where everyone on the team knows they got there on the merit of their work, increasing psychological safety. As Micah said, “Nobody wants to work in an environment where they feel like they’re the low person on the team. If you’ve made it this far and gotten hired by us, we know you can do the work and know you can do it well.”

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This show is brought to you by Woven. At Woven, we help software teams screen engineering candidates so they can spend less time on bad interviews, uncover hidden gems, and back their hiring decisions with evidence. If you want to learn more about how Woven could help you scale your software team, you can check us out here.

We’re excited to help you build your perfect software team, and are always looking for your feedback about how to make the show better. If you have anyone you think we should interview, tweet us at @woven_teams and our team will reach out.

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Tim Hickle