Angela Dugan

Information & Communications Technology

Agile Coaching Agile Methodologies Agile Leadership Scrum DevOps & Automation Technical Leadership Team Building Visual Studio Team Services Team Foundation Server

Chicago, Illinois, United States

Angela Dugan

People Lead at Polaris Solutions, like CPO only for a company not quite big enough for a title that formal :) #PeopleOps

I am a software consultant turned Microsoft evangelist turned software consultant (again) turned agile coach turned Director, turned People Lead. What's a People Lead? I handle all things "people". I focus on fostering an environment where people can truly thrive by attracting, training, and supporting amazing humans here at Polaris Solutions.

My goals include contributing to a culture that values diversity, experimentation, community, vulnerability, and safety. I am passionate about building an environment where people are challenged, feel valued, and can do work they truly love and can be proud of.

When I am not a #PeopleOps engineer, I love playing board games, pretending to be good at CrossFit and boxing, I am an aspiring crafty diva, and an avid gardener. I feel like my husband and I are constantly working on our 100+ year old house in Oak Park, with the "help" of our two ornery chickens Betsy and Gertrude, and our rambunctious GSP named Sadie.

Current sessions

Building a Stronger Team, One Human at a Time

Building the “perfect team” seems like an impossible task these days. Can a truly “cross-functional” team even be built? How do you get introverts and extroverts (yes, they DO exist in IT) to play nice? Seems like these days you practically need a degree in psychology to get this right. But you don’t.

Over the course of my career, I’ve worked with my clients and my company to develop high functioning teams. I’ve found that regardless of focus (software development, marketing, sales), there are patterns to what makes teams successful, and what can hold them back from greatness.

- Are you spending time understanding what the individual members of the team need to be successful or are you trying “one size fits all” solutions?
- Are you creating a safe and supportive environment to foster experimentation and learning, or are you doing the same old stuff you’ve always done, wondering why you don't see better results?
- Are you leveraging people’s individual strengths and balancing the team as a whole or just putting whomever is available on a team and hoping for the best?

In this talk, I’ll cover a couple of tools for understanding the needs and strengths of your individual team members, identifying strength gaps, and action items for creating a happy and well-balanced team that can get it done!


How do You Measure up? Collect the Right Metrics for the Right Reasons

How many times have you been asked to deliver on metrics that did not make sense, that were counterproductive to the team's effectiveness, or that were seemingly impossible to collect? Often times, the metrics being collected are the ones that are easy, but not necessarily the ones that matter.

When it comes to software delivery, lean and agile practices and methodologies have clearly taken the lead. In the spirit of Kaizen, this session will take a look at the measures we can and should collect from agile teams, why these metrics are relevant and interesting, and how we can use them to help our teams continuously improve.


Tap, tap, tap. Is this thing on? Communication Matters, whether you're a Junior Dev or a CEO

In the 20 or so years since I joined the tech community, I moved from an attitude of "please leave me alone in my cube to code and whatever you do don't talk to me!" to well, giving talks on the importance of communication in the software world. The tools and techniques I've come to know and love have changed over time, but a few things have remained constant.
1) Communicating openly and honestly can be HARD
2) Speaking from a place of vulnerability is RIDICULOUSLY HARD
3) Without 1 and 2 you're going to really struggle to be an effective and happy member of ANY software team

OK, there's a 4th thing.
4) The days of working alone in your cube like a hermit are largely over for software folks. It really doesn't have to suck. I swear it doesn’t.

During my brief time with you, I’m going to rumble with some tough topics and share some of my own embarrassing and enlightening stumbles. It will include things like delivering “bad news” to clients and/or managers and feeling really good about it, managing conflict with team members in healthy and productive ways, and delivering feedback without feeling like you (or the receiver) will vomit. These things are all very possible, and not that hard to master once you have some key tools and insights in your tool belt.


Level-up your feedback game with these communication hacks

Feedback makes the world go around, and let’s be honest, most of us are BAD at feedback. We’re bad at giving it, we’re bad at receiving it. Without feedback, it is exponentially more difficult to focus on the things that will help us to continuously improve. So if feedback is critical to us growing and thriving, why aren’t we all excitedly showering each other with feedback all the time?

OK, so there really is no hack or cheat here, it’s hard work. As a manager of many, I can help you get a good foothold on where to start and tell you where the bodies are buried so you avoid some of the mistakes I’ve experienced over the years. In my experience, feedback isn’t happening because feedback feels risky, vulnerable, scary, even downright anxiety-inducing. Feedback is also something we’re not trained to do well, and bad habits like the “feedback sh*t sandwich” is still a common practice. Feedback can feel like a personal and professional minefield, and it doesn’t have to!

In this session, we’ll warm up with an overview of what feedback is and is not. We’ll also review the qualities of high-quality feedback, as well as the other kinds of feedback so you know the difference. We’ll finish off with a quick summary of some “tips and tricks” to getting comfortable with giving and receiving candid feedback that has worked really well for me. You’ll be a feedback champion before you know it!