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Learning to Lead: A Personal Experience That Put My Emerging Skills to the Test

By Garrett Mark Scott posted 09-06-2021 07:56 PM


The Request for Some Simple Tracking

In my current role I manage analytics implementations for the United States division of an enterprise company. We had a request to implement tracking on 2 popups that appeared on the homepage of two seperate websites. In my mind, this should of been a piece of cake for our team. I told the reporting teams requesting this that it was no problem and I'll be in touch with them in the near future. One week turned into two, then three, then I moved from patient to frustrated.

The 3 Weeks of Back and Forth

My team and I had a good amount of back and forth in our comment thread over the weeks regarding this implementation. Our engineering resource would say its working, I would say that it is not. Engineer would implement one way of tracking on popup A but it would behave differently on popup B and again, I would say that would not acceptable. I even sent a video screencast showing my frustration in a purposefully framed manner. After sending that video I got a comment (rather quickly) that the popups were implemented. I went to go validate them and to my utter dismay, one of them wasn't even sending any information in the production environment. It actually got worse! I ran my fingers through my hair, feeling a few let loose along the way, and took a moment to pause. After my moment of pause, I asked my colleague to validate the work before I lost my mind. To my great relief, that colleague confirmed that the popups were tracking as expected on his end it. Crisis averted. I troubleshooted on my end and found out that the solution was currently cookie-dependant and at the time my cookies were blocked on the site that was not working. I allowed cookies on both sites and finally, about three week later, both popups were working as expected.

Turning Tension Into Opportunity

We were not finished yet though; we still needed to figure out what the break down was in a constructive manner. The back and forth between the engineer and myself gathered the attention of a good soap opera. While everything said in our comment thread was HR safe, the back-and-forth had enough eyes on the tension that a moderator from the engineer's contract vendor was added to the call. I had to carefully choose how to go into this meeting. Coming down hard on the engineer responsible for this three week delay on what seemed to be a simple ask was not going to help anything. It would make it worse and their motive to perform would become indirect, meaning from outside pressure instead of the internal/direct drive to succeed. When the time came to join our online meeting, I opened up our conversation with a general canned how are you, with a general response you'd expect. I then framed the discussion in a way that put this engineer on a pedestal the whole time without insinuating any direct blame on them. A paraphrase of our 30-min conversation is below:

"I'm sure we can all agree there is no reason a popup should have taken this long to implement. We have done way more complicated projects in a shorter timeline. The popups are working and our company will be fine. I'm more concerned with fixing a process then the actual popups, what seemed to be the trouble?"
Engineer: "I had to reverse engineer the logic as I actually never have done this particular solution"
Me: "Thanks for letting me know, that helps clear up some confusion! Sorry to hear you had to go through the headache. Is there anything we could do to help dodge this next time?"
Engineer: "Our Tealium profile is severely bloated which makes it hard to iterate/navigate at speed. I have seen a very similar issue when I worked at Company X"
Me: "Oh wow tell me more about that, how did you solve for it?"
Engineer: "Yeah we did ____, ____, and ____. I even used to work directly for the tag management software we are currently using"
Me: "That is awesome! We have had this other issue that no one has really been able to solve for yet. Would you be interested in helping lead those efforts? It sounds like you are extremely qualified and you would be a hero."
Engineer: "Of course! I'd be happy to, let's set up a meeting and I can illustrate some of the opportunities I see"
Me: "That would be fantastic. Could you also please document the process needed for popup implementations in our engineering playbook. That way we can be a lot quicker next time"
Engineer: "Totally makes sense, happy to help"

By the end of our 30-minute call, instead of leaving with animosity towards each other, we left with a stronger relationship. Not only did we solve for the original issue but also learned new opportunities that might not have come up otherwise. What looked like to be a bombshell of a meeting turned into an added benefit. This was a great opportunity to actively use the leadership knowledge that I have been actively working on in my quest to become a respected leader of people.


The key message I have for our community is to remember that no matter what your role is, whether you are the manager or the engineer, remember that moments of pain can turn into opportunities of gain with proper reflection. This ability, like anything else, takes practice but the first step is being conscious of it and then being purposeful on how you use the energy(frustration) that has manifested. These are all based on my personal thoughts. Please do leave any thoughts, insights,  experiences you have had regarding what worked and what has not.




09-12-2021 01:09 PM

Excellent anecdote. Being empathetic is key, but also when finding a blockage or impediment being able to detach from the problem and try to see it from outside or in this case, asking someone else to look at it from a different perspective so you could find the root cause of an issue. Thanks for sharing.

09-10-2021 02:52 PM

Terrific lessons, thank you for sharing

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