Providing Guidance as a Seasoned Maker

As you get further into your career, it can be challenging to find your place in an environment that is full of enthusiastic new makers. And yet, the experience and wisdom you have gained is invaluable. I want to remind you of ways you can leverage your experience to help your team grow and mature.

Providing Safety to Fail

Likely the most important guidance you can provide as a seasoned maker is that it is okay to fail. In fact, failure is inevitable, and if used properly, it is invaluable to learning.

When I got my first opportunity to do product development a few years into my career, I was excited and driven, but I was also worried, lost, and felt a strong need to prove myself to my peers, senior makers, and management. When I hit a roadblock or took an approach that resulted in failed outcomes, I took it hard and personally. I felt I was not good enough and worried that I might not be cut out for my job.

Being a good and seasoned maker requires resilience. It is our responsibility as seasoned makers to help our new makers feel safe with failure, and even embrace it.

Modeling by example is important. Being open with junior makers and peers about your own failures and shortcomings is a great place to start, and it can have many positive effects. For example, when you make it acceptable not to know the details of a certain tech stack or even a portion of a system you are maintaining, your more junior makers will come to realize that this is the norm.

I have experienced this time and again. Seeing more senior makers be humbled took a ton of pressure off me and prevented my creativity and drive from being stifled by challenges.

Providing Guidance through Adversity

Another benefit of your experience is that you know how to help teammates face up to the roadblocks that inevitably occur.

Early in my career, I was often determined to make a given approach work and felt the need to conquer challenges on my own. In reality, I would either end up taking way more time than was needed for a given task, or I would take much too long to admit defeat.

I found that stepping back and reviewing my approach and challenges with my peers provided a refreshing viewpoint. Getting away from my own ideas and dilemmas helped me see new perspectives that often helped me move on.

A good maker does not hesitate to reach out to others when stuck in a difficult position. By working with your teammates, you can overcome problems and plot a course forward.