The Manager's Path A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating

Managing people is difficult wherever you work but the tech industry as a whole is pretty bad at it Tech companies in general lack the experience tools texts and frameworks to do it well And the handful of books that share tips and tricks of engineering management don t explain how to supervise employees in the face of growth and changeIn this book author Camille Fournier takes you through the stages of technical management from mentoring interns to working with the senior staff You ll get actionable advice for approaching various obstacles in your path whether you re a new manager a mentor or a experienced leader looking for fresh advice Pick up this book and learn how to become a better manager and leader in your organization Discover how to manage small teams and largemulti level teams Understand how to build and bootstrap a unifying culture in teams Deal with people problems and learn how to mentor other managers and new leaders Learn how to manage yourself avoid common pitfalls that challenge many leaders Obtain several practices that you can incorporate and practice along the way

10 thoughts on “The Manager's Path A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change

  1. says:

    This book does a good job of walking you through the typical career path of a software engineer from individual contributor all the way up to senior executive It's a great read for all programmers and not just managers In fact if you're still early in your career you'll find this book especially valuable as it's a great outline of what to expect later in your career and some of the things you can do to accelerate your growth A few of my favorite insights from the book As you move from individual contributor IC to lead ie either tech lead or manager one of the biggest challenges is learning to balance your technical work vs the non technical For an IC most of the work is technical the higher up you go in your career the time you spend on communication strategy planning management and other non technical issues While you should rarely be 100% technical or non technical finding the right balance in between is hard and it's a moving target that you'll have to watch closely throughout your career The book presents a strong case for having regular one on ones Very few of my own managers ever did that for me and those that did didn't know how to run a one on one effectively and I think my career suffered as a result The ideas for one on ones in this book seem useful especially on a not using them as purely status meetings and b on keeping a running document with notes of what you discussed in each meeting Most developers are used to brainstorming tossing out ideas and challenging the ideas of others as a normal healthy aspect of code reviews and design discussions When you become a leader people will begin interpreting the exact same feedback as marching orders rather than one opinion amongst many You may be used to thinking out loud and playing devil's advocate with your peers but as a leader if you're not careful a few casual phrases can derail an entire project Therefore you need to make extra effort to make it clear when your feedback represents must do vs just a couple ideas to consider and sometimes you just need to keep your mouth shut entirely As a tech lead you should ask what is the true north for your team? That is what are the most important guiding principles the engineering team should be aiming for? 100% code coverage? Weekly daily or continuous deployment? No single points of failure? Five 9's reliability? Sub second load times? You can't accomplish all of these at the same time in fact if everyone is moving towards different goals you're not likely to succeed at any of these Therefore you need to get everyone pulling in the same direction by identifying your true north making sure everyone on the team knows what it is and using that to simplify decision making Every time a developer is making a trade off should I go with X or Y? pick the one that brings the team closer to the true north One interesting aspect to this book is that it does not try to offer too many answers The author lays out what will happen presents the challenges and offers a few suggestions on how to meet them but for the most part leaves it up to you to think through everything and reflect on the best way forward This can be a bit frustrating if you were hoping to walk away from the book with a list of tools and techniques that you can immediately apply to your work the later chapters on senior leadership in particular contain less concrete actionable advice than the earlier ones However the reality is that there are no easy pre baked solutions for most of these problems The main value of the book is making you aware of those problems so that you aren't blind sided by them and can recognize them in time to come up with your own solutionsAs always I've saved a few of my favorite quotes from the bookOne thing that early career engineers often don’t appreciate is how their current peers will turn into their future jobsWhen you are persistently unhappy say something When you are stuck ask for help When you want a raise ask for it When you want a promotion find out what you need to do to get itBeing a tech lead is an exercise in influencing without authority As the tech lead I am leading a team but we all report to the same engineering manager So not only do I have to influence my peers but I also have to influence up to my manager to ensure we are prioritizing the right workDelegation is not the same thing as abdication When you’re delegating responsibility you’re still expected to be involved as much as is necessary to help the project succeedOne of the basic rules of management is the rule of no surprises particularly negative onesIt’s a short step from managing a person or two to managing a whole team but managing a team is than just doing the job of managing the individuals At this point your job has changed In fact at every step beyond this level you will probably experience a totally different set of requirements and challenges The hardest thing to prepare for as you advance in your career is the idea that you’re going to start doing totally different things As much as you may want to believe that management is a natural progression of the skills you develop as a senior engineer it’s really a whole new set of skills and challengesWriting code is full of quick wins especially for the experienced developer You make tests pass you see new features come to life you get something to compile you fix a problem Management has fewer obvious quick wins especially for new managers It’s natural to feel some longing for simpler times when it was just you and your computer and you didn’t have to deal with all these messy complicated humansSaying no to your boss rarely looks like a simple “no” when you’re a manager Instead it looks like the “yes and” technique of improvisational comedy “Yes we can do that project and all we will need to do is delay the start of this other project that is currently on the roadmap” Responding with positivity while still articulating the boundaries of reality will get you into the major leagues of senior leadership Never underestimate how many times and how many ways something needs to be said before it sinks in Communication in a large organization is hard In my experience most people need to hear something at least three times before it really sinks inI like to describe technology strategy for product focused companies as something that “enables the many potential futures of the business”There’s a saying in politics that “a good political idea is one that works well in half baked form” and the same goes for engineering processes The processes should have value even when they are not followed perfectly and that value should largely lie in the act of socializing change or risk to the team as a whole