SW engineering, engineering management and the business of software

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What is Engineering Management?

Originally tweeted out here: What is Engineering Management?:

I spent a chunk of time today talking about Engineering Management. Sillicon Valley does people a disservice with the very common occurrence of battlefield promotions for eng managers.

Most of them never get trained on how to be a good manager much less have someone clearly explain the role and the expectations for the role clearly.

I roughly categorize the work/expectations into five buckets:

Bucket 1: Making People Excel

This the largest bucket comprised of 1:1s, coaching, mentoring, training, feedback, tough convos, performance evals, creating safe environments, empathetic environments, Umbrella work (shielding your people from BS), career development, etc.

Bucket 2: Prioritize, Align, Motivate

This is mostly making sure your people are pointing the the right direction. This also includes stuff that may not immediately move the bottom line, such as making sure tasks such as process, docs, automation, actually happen amid the constant pressure to ship. Lastly making sure that you have good thoughts and behaviors around decision management (see my tweets from yesterday)

Bucket 3: Business Value

This understanding the business and the metrics that drive it. both technical and biz metrics are important to track and surface. Also understanding of the product, the market and the economics of your space.

Bucket 4: Hiring/Recruiting

Many engineers may not realize that an eng manager should be spending 25-50% of their time doing this. Process, assessment, questions design, speed, candidate experience, closing, etc. The industry does this poorly in general in my opinion.

Bucket 5: Technical Skill

You have to know what you are talking about. You have to have both the tech skill and an appropriate amount of relevant domain knowledge. It’s much much harder to be an awesome manager if you don’t know what your reports are doing, and can’t assess their ability to do their work because you lack the relevant skill set or experience.

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