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What Really Matters: Our Favorite Mode Values

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Ushashi Chakraborty , Director of Engineering

August 5, 2019

4 minute read

An engineering take

At Mode, we make decisions while staying true to our company values. We asked few of our engineers and engineering leaders about the values they like most, and wanted to share their examples of how their teams work by those values. These are our company values:

  • We don’t work alone
  • A balanced responsibility
  • Fight our own biases
  • Honest words, kindly delivered

You can read more about these values here

Abby Edwards, Senior Software Engineer: I love Mode’s value of We don’t work alone. In particular, in the last few weeks I have seen a few good examples of my engineering colleagues showing it in action. Here’s one example. A few days ago I was working on a project, when suddenly we had a very brief outage. Within just a few minutes three of my colleagues and I gathered to investigate what happened. At first we looked through our metrics and could only find symptoms of the problem but no clear root cause. But after brainstorming and digging through logs together for a little while we pinpointed the root cause to a maintenance operation one of the four of us started. The engineer in question was embarrassed and apologetic, but someone else responded, “this could have happened to any of us, seriously don’t worry about it — what can we do together to make it safer for us to do this work without having to worry about unintended side effects?” We then hacked together on improving our monitoring to make it easier to pinpoint issues like this in the future. That was not the work I planned to do for the day, but I felt really good about being a part of such a caring and supportive team at the end of the day.

Max Edmands, Engineering Manager: My favorite Mode value is Honest words, kindly delivered. We don’t skimp on giving feedback at Mode. If someone makes an impression — whether it’s positive, negative, or nuanced — we make a point of talking about it. Even though I’ve only been here for two months, I’m already deeply feeling and appreciating this culture of feedback. Whether it’s our #random-appreciations channel in Slack (in which people from all parts of the company are appreciated daily), candid conversations in 1:1s, a quick word after something unusual happened in a meeting, or the hard questions that people ask our executive team during our weekly all-company meetings — it’s clear we aren’t shy about speaking difficult truths. It’s something we take seriously enough that all managers at Mode are required to take a three-hour class in it.

Franklin Clark, Senior Software Engineer: The value that I really love the most is Fight our own biases. Interviewing is where I find my personal bias and ignorance surface the most. Evaluating the subtle expressions, humor, and learning processes of new and different candidates trigger subjective determinations that I frequently cross examine and counter as part of the objective interview process at Mode. Every once in a while I will take a strong judgement of a candidates body language or level of aggression, as it may effect their performance, but no other solid evidence that support my assessment, and share it during the debrief process. Surfacing my bias to the group like this is a good way to get feedback and increase transparency and trust. Biases can come in many forms and one such form is having a bias for or against a certain technology or process because of familiarity and experience with the same in the past. The Engineering team that I work on was invested in on-prem in-person retrospectives. In effort to make retros more accessible and democratic we decided to try to run remote friendly retrospectives with stickies. I had seen this work very well at Carbon5 and thought the team would find value in it as well. After the first stickies.io retro we ended up really appreciating the positive impact and increased accessibility. We ultimately added it to our process.

Heather Rivers, Chief Technology Officer: My favorite Mode value is A balanced responsibility. Mode engineers have an overwhelming variety of backgrounds and interests, and I appreciate that Mode is a place where we can bring our authentic selves to work. We’re a quirky bunch! I love connecting with my team members over new books, bad puns, and Taco Bell. And I am grateful that everyone tolerates me constantly abandoning my shoes in favor of socks at the office. Beyond the office, we are not only allowed, but encouraged, to lead balanced lives. Being able to pursue a variety of interests in parallel with our jobs keeps our minds and bodies healthy. When we’re not shipping best-in-class software, we run marathons, write poetry, watch soccer, volunteer, perform improv comedy, go backpacking, connect with our communities, and play with our dogs.

We are excited to share more of our stories with you. If you are interested in working with us, please visit our careers page.

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