TeamSnappers Manager Highlight: Josh Antweiler, Engineering Manager
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They say people don’t leave companies, they leave managers. And if you ask any TeamSnapper what they love about their work, you’ll hear a common answer: “The people.” At TeamSnap we spend a ton of time connecting with our colleagues and want to shout out some of our awesome managers too. We’ve flipped the script on our #TeamSnappersTalk series to #TeamSnappersManagerHighlight to highlight what makes our managers unique and give you a snapshot of what working with Josh, our Engineering Manager, is like.
What’s your TeamSnap story?
My wife and I have 4 kiddos all participate in sports as did we growing up. Seeing a need in the market and given our product development backgrounds, we started a company focused on the amateur competition side of sports, a web and mobile application that helps with tournaments, specifically rostering, scheduling, communications, standings, pool and bracket play, promoting sponsors, etc.
We knew we needed to get ourselves into the market and in front of more people. We started talking to other companies in the space looking for a partnership and complement to our product. We joked about reaching out to TeamSnap and other big names in the space, not thinking anything of it. Our newly hired business development rep shocked us when she reached out to TeamSnap and within a couple of months, we went from talking partnership to acquisition. Over three years later, I’m still here and excited to wake up everyday to iterate and build TeamSnap’s all-in-one sports and team management platform!
What’s one of the biggest mistakes you’ve made as a leader? What did you take away from this?
Not having the tough conversations early on, especially as it relates to performance. I’ve learned that most people want to know where they stand and would prefer to know the expectations of others. While the conversation isn’t fun and can be uncomfortable, it’s the right thing to do because if you don’t have it, you don’t give them a chance to course-correct and grow. If you as a leader are not doing that, you aren’t allowing them to own their path. Though I still struggle today when having to share unpleasant feedback, I actively work to be more open and transparent on a continual basis. This has allowed me to build stronger relationships with those I work with and manage.
What’s your approach when two or more engineers on your team disagree on how to move forward?
Duel at 10 paces…just a simple rock, paper, scissors. Kidding! When this happens, we all spend time looking to bring an even better solution forward together, by using the ideas and knowledge they both bring to the table. I also try to bring other teams in for outside perspectives as they might bring something up we haven’t considered yet that will change our course of action.
Ultimately my role is to guide the team into having strong opinions and pushing for great solutions, but those opinions need to be loosely held as the best solutions generally come from a place of partnership, versus one person making all the decisions.
How do you motivate your team, particularly when there’s a daunting problem to solve?
I start by sharing the ‘why’. Next, I’ll identify who this affects and the value a solution brings, describe what success looks like, and then finally give them space and support to do the work. We’ll usually collaborate cross-functionally with other teams in our company who can bring additional context and expertise to the project. By attacking a problem together, I reduce pressure and anxiety while simultaneously increasing collaboration and camaraderie.
In what ways have you upgraded the skills or supported the career paths of your team?
As their manager, my job is to support and advocate for my team’s opportunities for learning, growth, and success. Having continuous professional development discussions is paramount. We’ll lay out personal roadmaps so my team can work towards their own visions. If someone is struggling to come up with their goals, I work with them to define their vision and create opportunities to move forward, like getting involved with specific projects, incorporating a technical roadmap into daily work, 1:1s, building a budget for educational items, and advanced training and conferences. I enjoy seeing others on my team grow by taking on new challenges and finding success. I’m honored to have worked with many individuals who have grown to larger technical roles like staff or architecture pursued management roles, and many who now work at large companies or are leading development in startups.
How are you learning and growing as a leader?
I pride myself on having a growth mindset, constantly learning and looking for new ideas and ways to tackle problems, build teams, develop products and deliver great software solutions. I tend to read or listen mostly these days to books and articles using Audible and Blinkist. These are great resources that I’ve found invaluable.
Although I’m in a management role today, I enjoy building products so I find myself building out ideas I have, or even my wife or friend’s ideas. This keeps my tech skills relatively sharp by giving me opportunities to play with different languages, frameworks, tools, etc., and ultimately keeps the “engineer-at-heart” inside me happy.
I’m not big on telling someone to specifically read a blog or book or even take a class. Instead, I suggest that they pick a topic/subject they are interested in and look for an opportunity to solve a real problem with software. This gives someone hands-on experience in a domain they understand and helps build empathy for the users. It also helps them learn the fundamentals of project management and other concepts many engineers don’t get the chance to develop. I prefer working software and experiences over academic exercises.
In an alternate universe, what type of role/job would you want to be?
Easy! Marine biologist (study sharks, whales, penguins, reefs, etc.), professional fisherman (freshwater ideally, maybe shallow coastal flats), or general handyman (love home projects like renovations, electrical work, and building things). In that order. 🙂
Do you also love working in sports and thrive in a fast-paced, fun environment? Check out our current openings at https://www.teamsnap.com/careers.
Allan Leung is with TeamSnap’s People Experience team as the Talent Acquisition Manager. When he’s not recruiting and helping TeamSnappers, you can find him getting his heart racing on a thrill ride, traveling, working out, dreaming up his next creative endeavor, and spending time with family and friends.