How to present to executives.

January 2, 2021.Filed undermanagement127staff-plus26

Have you presented to company executives about a key engineering initiative, walking into the room excited and leaving defeated? Maybe you only made it to your second slide before unrelated questions derailed the discussion. Maybe you worked through your entire presentation only to have folks say, “Great job,” and leave without any useful debate. Afterward, you’re not quite sure what happened, but you know it didn’t go well.

Pacing and isolating change.

December 21, 2020.Filed undermanagement127

One of the downsides of being a group manager is that you spend most of your time on change management, but it must be said that organiational change management is a pretty interesting topic, particularly within a fast growing company.

技术主管管理角色trap.

December 18, 2020.Filed undermanagement127职业生涯20

The tech lead manager role is often presented as an easy on-ramp to Team Manager, but my experience is that being a tech lead manager is considerably harder to do well than Team Management, to the extent that I believe the tech lead manager role is a trap for new managers.

Interesting work happens at the edges.

December 17, 2020.Filed undermanagement127职业生涯20

Many engineering managers become obsessed with the transition to managing managers rather than managing a team directly. I’ve seen that pursuit of managerial scope become almost an obsession for some folks. That’s a shame, because group management is a very different job than team management, and is often both less rewarding and less likely to facilitate ongoing learning. In particular, I often get email from folks considering joining a hypergrowth company in pursuit of their first group management role, and my advice is, in its most concise form: Do it if you must, but be cautious.

Managing Staff-plus engineers.

November 27, 2020.Filed undermanagement127staff-plus26

While getting feedback on StaffEng,one request was for more content on managing Staff-plus engineers. It doesn’t quite fit the theme--that effort is focused on the Staff Engineer themselves rather the company or the manager--but it’s an interesting topic and a worthy appendix.

Finding your Staff sponsor.

November 19, 2020.Filed undermanagement127staff-plus26

As I’ve spoken with more folks trying to reach their first Staff-plus role, most folks run into similar challenges. Many have miscalibrated their own impact, and simply haven’t done the work yet to operate at that level: a Staff Engiener isn’t just a faster Senior Engineer. However, there’s a large cohort who have done the work--they’re visible across their organization and have pulled together a strong promotion packet--but are still struggling to have that work recognized.

Renegotiating your first vendor contract.

November 14, 2020.Filed undermanagement127

A while back I wrote Build versus buy, which discussed evaluating vendor tools against building in-house solutions. A short summary of that piece is that I think most companies should use more vendor tooling. That said, I think rather than advice on how to select vendor tools, for most engineers an even more helpful topic is renegotiating an expiring contracts their organization already has.

Engineering strategy every org should write.

November 7, 2020.Filed undermanagement127strategy7

Writing my recent article on Engineering strategy was one of the most challenging pieces of writing I’ve done in the past few years because I had far more ideas than I could fit into a coherent narrative. I extracted a number of those into semi-edited snippets filed under the strategy tag, and here is the last one in that vein.

Surplus rules of engineering strategy.

November 7, 2020.Filed undermanagement127strategy7

While sharing my advice for writing an engineering strategy, my second draft had an extended section of “rules for writing engineering strategies.” I think these were all _useful_, but it was a piece that suffered for too many ideas, and I ended up removing most of them.

Care and feeding for your engineering strategy.

November 7, 2020.Filed undermanagement127strategy7

If by some act of perseverance and skill you write an engineering strategy that’s well-received by your organization, then you’re faced with the next challenge. How do you keep this living document alive past that initial burst of excitement?