I just recently returned from a tech lead sync up that my department had in Austin TX. We have web teams in Austin, San Francisco and Irvine and once a quarter we meet up in one location to talk about recent problems, exchange ideas, sync up on tech decisions and other such items. My preference will definitely be Austin due to the Texas BBQ.
The format for these meetings is kept pretty loose. We brainstorm topics that we want to talk about. Vote on them and then start talking. If we get through everything great, if we don’t, it’s ok cause we ordered them. We then photograph all of the whiteboards so we can document later and generate action items from anything that we want to work on. We also try to form some goals of what to work on by the next meetup.
The partnership between managers of the same level seems to be overlooked (at least from my limited experience at other jobs, and what I read online). People talk about about how to manage employees and how to be a good employee yourself. They also talk about how to work with your boss (Hint: always do what your boss wants. If you don’t agree with what your boss wants, change what your boss wants). I don’t read a lot about how to work with your peers, and it feels like once people move into management they forget about the peers that they don’t have to interact with. For us I deal with our Product Manager and Designer peers often in order to get my day to day tasks done. I rarely get to deal with the other tech leads since we are all working on different projects. These syncs up really provide value due to this.
Some of the most beneficial talking points are when we bring up something that we don’t feel we’re handling well. Normally other teams might be handling a certain situation better, so you can learn how they manage it. For instance I feel like my interview skills leave a lot to be desired. Getting advice from the other tech leads (some with a lot more interviewing experience) is invaluable.
Having a good group of managers that can depend on each other is important. Making sure those managers meet up and spend time together (even with distance normally separates us) is really improtant and I’m happy that my company allows us to do that. The BBQ that we got to eat is just a (very very delicious) added bonus!