Drive at small companies
In a small company everyone needs to carry their own weight. There’s no room for idleness. Beyond technical ability, the best trait an engineer can have is drive. It’s knowing that when you delegate a task to someone, the person will own it from beginning to end. It’s having the trust that the person will be on top of the situation, if an issue appears. People that are used to working in bigger teams, or less experienced engineers, sometimes have the expectation that someone else will deal with a problem when it arises. This idea that there’s a safety net, if things go south. If you manage engineers with this mentality, it’s paramount to work with them and shift their perspective. You need to coach individuals that a problem they own ends with them, not with someone else that might pick up their slack. The usual approach is by holding them accountable. You start by asking questions about the situation, so you are on the same page. Both have the same understanding of the problem, and you both agree on what happened. This is crucial step and you shouldn’t do anything else until then. After this exercise is done, you set your expectations and see if you both agree on those. If not, try to understand where the contention point is. I recommend having this conversation over video, or F2F, and never by text. It’s easy to be misunderstood otherwise. You want to be able to have a potentially difficult conversation, while safekeeping the trust between both. It’s tough and everyone gets it wrong. As an example, some of the biggest stress points in my career were during these crucial conversations.