Communication for Engineers

Communication skills are crucial for engineers to reach the next level. Listen to the Tech Lead Journal Podcast for an in-depth interview with Chris on this topic.

Through personalized mentoring and coaching, a communication course for engineers, and a book, software engineers can become more productive, impactful, and happy.

Grow. 📈

Follow a personal coaching session to grow your career or leadership skills. Leverage Chris's thirty years of experience developing software at large companies. Let Chris help you identify your goals, make a plan, remove blockers, and reach your maximum impact and success.

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Learn. 🎓

Join as a group to follow an interactive course to make you a better communicator. Better communicators tend to increase their impact, get paid better, and are promoted to the next level more often. Of all attendees to this course, 100% would recommend it to their colleagues.

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Read 🏖️

The C4E book contains 20 chapters with lots of theory, experiences, tips, and actionable advice. Read a chapter a week, when you have time. Apply the lessons from the book. Increase your productivity and become a happier software engineer. This book is rated 4.8 out of 5.0!

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Career and Leadership Coaching

Chris Laffra is an experienced, passionate, and talented software engineer, with a strong drive to help other engineers grow. Chris understands what motivates engineers. He understands what stresses them out. He understands how to help them define and achieve their dreams.

Using his advanced communication skills, Chris is able to help engineers discover the right path for their professional and personal development. Chris has been a manager, tech lead, technical lead manager, advisor, mentor, researcher, and staff software engineer with companies such as IBM, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Google, Uber, Plato, and Sourcegraph. This wide variety of experiences ensures Chris can use his empathy to understand someones situation quickly and make meaningful suggestions to help engineers grow to the next level.

Mentoring, guidance, and coaching on hard and soft skills is what allows engineers to grow to the next level. Achieving maximum happiness and energy within a team requires deep insights into how the entire software development process is organized, the role the team plays in this, and how all this impacts individuals. Through decades of personal experience, Chris Laffra has analyzed and summarized this entire field into numerous blogs, presentations, and books.

The summit of Chris's work is his Communication for Engineers book, and the accompanying interactive C4E course. The one-on-one Career and Leadership Coaching sessions described here add an extra dimension, by providing a personalized experience for each engineer. The sessions include an analysis of someones situation, gauging their current set of skills, establishing their goals, and mapping a plan for success and maximum impact.

Every engineer, even the most successful one, hits a bump in their career at some point. Usually this happens when they reach a certain level and wonder if this is all there is. In other cases, it may be an existential question about whether to continue as an individual contributor or as a manager.

Sometimes engineers struggle with motivation, have a harder time contributing creatively, lack the passion they used to have, become more cynical, and see work as a job, not a hobby. All of these are red flags for stress or burnout. However, those situations need to be destigmatized and normalized. Companies like Sourcegraph lead the way, giving each of their teammates 10 therapy and wellness coaching sessions. Similarly, Chris does his own to normalize stress, burnout, and the imposter syndrome himself in a popular LinkedIn article.

Career and Leadership Coaching sessions with Chris Laffra focus on stress reduction, while increasing your productivity, impact, and happiness. The sessions were designed to normalize counter-productive experiences engineers may encounter in their career and life. The goal is to allow them to find back their passion in engineering. At the same time, the sessions focus on personal goal setting, improving communication, collaboration, and leadership skills. With his mentoring and coaching, Chris helps other engineers achieve their dreams.


Communication Course for Engineers

This course helps engineers develop their communication skills to an advanced level. The class is filled with practical tips that allow engineers to apply the theory behind communication to their software development practice.

The course focuses specifically on things that matter to engineers, such as design documents, planning, code reviews, tickets, incidents, and stakeholder management. Of all past attendees, 100% found the course useful for their career and recommend the course to their peers.

Classes are usually taught to groups of individuals that work at the same company or organization. The course spans a total of 12 hours of online training. The actual schedule of the course is determined by the group. In-person training takes place in all-day events. For online courses, sessions of 2 hours per week are recommended. In general, group size is limited to maximum of 20 attendees.

When asked what attendees learned from the course, answers included:

"Communication is not just talking to people, but it is happening all the time"

"Communication helps me improve my career."

"To communicate well, I need to control my emotions."

"You are a brand. Not only when you are planning to find a new job, but all the time."

"This course taught me to see how my experience aligns with others."

"Branding yourself can be fun."

"I can do much better in the process of code reviews."

"Writing is an important skill to develop!"

"Tickets are communication tools."

"Everything is connected. The way you reply to emails, write tickets, write documents, write code, comment on code reviews. Everything plays a role in your "brand" and in how people see you. Doesn't matter whom you're talking to in the "hierarchy chain", you need to be polite, objective and effective when communicating. Thinking about engineers (encoding, decoding, channels) make a lot of sense when thinking about communication."

Check out the detailed synopsis for the course with motivation, plan, and expected outcome for attendees. To schedule a course, or discuss more details, please contact Chris.


The Book

The book is written by a veteran engineer, Chris Laffra, to help other engineers become better communicators. To provide context, here is the foreword to the book by Urs Hölzle:

"Being able to communicate effectively is one of the most crucial life skills to learn. Through communication, we transfer information to produce a greater shared understanding. Communication is multi-faceted. You can share information verbally or through written media, such as books, websites, and documents. You enrich your communication visually using graphs, charts, images, and maps. Finally, you complement the picture with non-verbal communication such as body language, gestures, tone, and voice pitch. All these communication techniques are addressed effectively in this book. It is the first example where all the insights related to communication for software developers come together in one single, nicely organized collection of actionable advice.

As an engineer, we care a lot about our code. It defines us. We study the programming languages we use in great detail. We become experts in the tools we deploy. We fight with other engineers who are not using the same editors we use. Education tracks for software developers focus on the development of technical skills. We learn how to write compilers. We learn multiple programming languages. However, "softer" skills get less attention. Examples of those softer skills are: how to collaborate, how to get consensus on an idea, how to articulate our thoughts, and how to listen to others.

At some point in your career, you can no longer communicate effectively just by talking with others. Stand-ups, planning meetings, and peer programming sessions all have their physical limits. This effect applies to you sooner than you think. At that point, you need to switch to asynchronous communication techniques. In short, you need to switch to *writing*. Those who can write well suddenly have a headstart. Through well-written communication, your influence suddenly grows exponentially.

As an engineer, you should invest in your communication skills. This book provides an excellent plan, combined with a methodical approach. It contains actionable advice in its various chapters on communication skills.

Reading this book leads to you becoming a more successful engineer. You will become more impactful. More importantly, you will be a happier software developer. Enjoy reading!"

— Urs Hölzle, Senior Vice President of Engineering and employee #8 at Google

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