Case Study

A soft skills toolkit for engineering managers

Abstract has a fast-growing engineering team. They wanted to boost newly promoted managers with soft skills training to help them build stronger relationships and get better results.

Abstract Case Study

The Company

Abstract has helped more than 7,000 companies improve their workflows with its design intelligence platform that helps teams gather requirements, review designs, and measure what works. After raising a Series C from top VC firms, Abstract grew to 140 employees in early 2020. As the company re-calibrated around mission-critical initiatives, including the launch of an exciting new product, the CEO and the rest of the Exec Team determined that investing in frontline managers should be a priority.

The Challenge

Engagement survey results revealed that employees weren’t as satisfied with their managers as they’d like, and in exit interviews, they cited their managers as a primary reason for leaving. VP of Engineering Wynn Netherland brought on Lingo Live to help because he wanted his engineering managers to strengthen skills like Being Self Aware, Difficult Conversations, and Planning & Directing Work, and to emulate coaching in one-on-ones to build rapport with their direct reports.

 

The Solution

Netherland’s engineering managers organized a coaching hour on Fridays where they role play challenging situations and act as sounding boards for one another. Because they coach direct reports in one-on-ones, the benefits have spilled over to frontline ICs as well, and employee engagement scores have risen dramatically, both in the engineering department and across the organization.

“The engineering department employee engagement score went from -50 to +50. Everything that relates to the management performance, I would lay at Lingo Leaders’ feet. The turnaround is too striking to attribute it to anything else.”

Wynn Netherland
VP Engineering
Abstract

“If we’re coaching people and we’re giving them the opportunity to grow, that’s a testament to our culture. We’re not going out to look at external talent when roles become available, we’re looking at our internal talent, and they feel empowered and able to do it. That’s huge.”

Merritt Quisumbing Anderson
VP of People & Culture
Abstract

Engagement scores after coaching

Manager Clarity
Employee Motivation
Company Loyalty

Coaching is one of many factors that may have contributed to these improvements.

By the numbers

200

Sessions delivered

5/5

Session Satisfaction Rating

81%

Learners noticed skill improvement

The Future

One of Abstract’s values is “Question the status quo,” which lines up with the engineering leadership’s goal to build strategic thinking on their team. They want to encourage managers to look at their tasks and evaluate, “Can someone take this off my plate to free me up to do things that will have more impact?” In fact, Abstract’s leadership has decided these kinds of strategic leadership skills are useful not only for engineering managers, but for all managers, and as a result, they are offering Lingo Leaders to managers across the company.

“Once I started Lingo Leaders, I started taking bolder steps. In Slack channels and leadership meetings, I would grab action items because I knew I could do them. My VP said, ‘Hey, you’re doing great with the QA team. Let’s see what you can do with the dev team.’ I would definitely recommend Lingo Leaders over other platforms for mentorship and coaching because my coach tailored the sessions to my needs. It was almost like she read my mind.”

Deana
Engineering Manager
Abstract

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