Have you ever read a blog post so great, that you thought everyone should read it? I sure have, more than once, but I found that in most cases «everyone» just didn’t care. Today however I decided to try something new. I’ll cherry pick a few posts from the recent years by topic and share them as a single blog post. I’ll throw in some of my own comments and act like I’ve actually done something creative today.
The article that pushed me to create this post was «The 3 Capacities of a Good Manager». It details 3 ways how bright engineers can end up as less than great managers. It also explains how to identify each way by symptoms. It describes how managers need to think about their roles. Finally, it provides managers with a simple framework to assess themselves. To some extent I felt like I was reading an excellent excerpt of a book, but somehow it felt complete at the same time. Matthew Werner did a great job here, I’ll re-read this post many times for sure.
I really appreciated «The Engineer/Manager Pendulum» by mipsytipsy. In this post she argues that tech managers do their jobs best within the first 2 to 3 years after being removed from tech, and that people should generally go back and forth between engineering and management roles. To be honest my motivations were slightly different, but I have become a tech lead for 3 years, only to become an individual contributor again. I grew to understand how I may have become a better leader / manager by not being one for a while. Of course, I understand that many in higher management may do well way after said 2 to 3 years. Still, chances are, they won’t be doing a lot of tech at that point. I’d also argue that oftentimes any experienced manager could do a good job as CTO, except at times it’s useful to actually understand the techies.
Finally, I loved Camille Fournier’s «I hate manager READMEs». In this post she argues that manager READMEs might be well-intended, but they scream
"I'm the boss here". They also sound like their authors are making weak excuses for their own weaknesses, quirks, and challenges. They can even suggest their readers that they’re at fault if they don’t know how to «handle» said managers properly. Truth is, I also liked «12 “Manager READMEs” from Silicon Valley’s Top Tech Companies», but what I liked about them was the insight into how these people think. I never felt that it would be great to read such thing from my manager.
Okay, so that’s 3 posts, therefore we’re done. But since I just can’t stop there, I’ll add 3 more very briefly:
I just found out today that as for everything in tech, there’s an awesome «awesome list» for management too. I’m especially stoked about the Meetings and Time Management page, which is a topic I definitely want to learn more about.
Switching from Engineering to Management is a good read for people who need to decide whether to make a career shift to management or not.
A while back I wrote about the dangers of detached management, which might be a nice addition to the first post: «The 3 Capacities of a Good Manager». Obviously, I’m biased though.