Surprisingly Effective managers

Surprisingly Effective tips and tactics for engineering managers working at technology companies

• • •

  • Leadership keywords
    My current theory of leading software teams and projects has four keywords: Trust: I assume everyone is working to get the job done. They assume I will help them get the job done. This starts off more […]
  • Don’t be spooky
    It’s possibly the best advice for managers I’ve given so far. When you’re communicating with your team, lead with context and reassurance. Never message someone on your team, “let’s talk when you get a minute”. That’s void […]
  • “Rationalize and solve” doesn’t help someone who is venting
    If you’re doing the whole servant leadership thing, you’re gonna hear some people venting frustrations. Yihwan Kim, When a 1:1 turns into a vent session: As an engineering manager, I’m learning that a big part of my […]
  • One priority is like wind in the sails
    It’s true that I can scale myself, teams, and organizations to walk and chew gum at the same time, but it is surprisingly effective to focus on one thing at a time. This is the essence of […]
  • Planning focuses our ideas
    Planning is essential. But, not too much. Mostly in the next 90-day window (with apologies to Michael Pollan). Humans are, with few exceptions, awful at planning. It’s impossible to see the future. We rely on our previous […]
  • Let them go their own way
    A mistake many newly minted (and some experienced) engineering managers (EMs) make is listening to their team (good!), discussing potential solutions and tradeoffs (good!), and then telling them how to solve the problem. Whoops!
  • Hire based on outcomes instead of role descriptions
    The first time I hired someone, I wish I’d known it’s much better to think about the outcomes you’re hiring for. With that in mind, work backwards to the experience and skills required for a person to […]

• • •