working with me | Marshall Shen

working with me

why this document

Every technical leader is different. This document is an effort to share my working style and set working expectations.

note on the version number

Being a leader is a process and constant work-in-progress. And this document will evolve with new learnings and reflections.

my role

My role is to help build resilient and collaborative engineering teams. Engineering teams have two primary goals: delivery and growth. By delivery, I mean shipping meaningful products with solid requirements within the expected timeframe. By growth, I mean that by delivering meaningful products, the people within the team get better and grow in their career.

what do I value most?

  • growth mindset. Everyone has the ability to learn and grow. Failure is not evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities.
  • make things simple. It is easy to make things complicated. Making things simple means putting complex ideas into clear frameworks, and it takes mastery of structured thinking and intentional communication.
  • feedback. Timely and actionable feedback helps me grow and the team better. I like to ask questions when receiving feedback to understand the context, and take actions based on my understanding.
  • collaboration. A group is smarter than an individual. When I encounter a problem that is complex to solve, I proactively reach out to specific people for help and be clear on what I need help on.
  • first principle. When approaching any situation, seek to understand the root cause of the situation before taking action.

my expectations

  • take ownership. Doing something is different from owning something. Doing is about taking action, while owning is taking action AND being committed to and responsible for achieving the intended outcome.
  • optimization over perfection. No product is perfect, what’s meaningful to us is making products better, and we become better along the way. Done is better than perfect.
  • be kind to each other. Be mindful of others’ time and space, treat others how we want to be treated. For example, when scheduling a meeting or asking for help, be mindful of when people are not available. When the team is together for a team, stay present at the moment, give the best attention to each other, and the subject at hand.
  • celebrate and learn. We celebrate our successes, and we learn from our mistakes. It’s through reflection and iteration that we deliver and grow.


  • 1-1s are very important to me because they are dedicated space for you to talk about anything and everything you want
  • They are meetings primarily for you, and only secondarily for me
  • It’s not a status meeting unless you want to talk about status
  • 1-1s are flexible – they can shift and change to fit around our shifting schedules
  • Don’t save urgent matters for a 1-1!

personality quirks

  • I’m more comfortable in small groups than big ones.
  • I care deeply about understanding first principles.
  • I need time alone to reflect and process new facts before forming an opinion.
  • According to Myers–Briggs Type Indicator, I’m classified as INTJ personality type. And I tend to do what others expect of me, as well as what I expect from myself.
  • When facing situations or challenges that I am familiar with, I tend to act quickly in an organized way (e.g. checklist). However, when facing unknown situations, I tend to take more time to process information and ask questions and come up with actions later on.