Reading List for Managers

Reading material for the modern engineering manager. Writing stuff down as I coach new EMs and TLs. WIP.

Year 1 #

Reading #

Read with skepticism, and an eye towards adaptation.

Being a Tech Lead-Manager is Hard

  • The Manager’s Path: A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change by Camille Fournier
    • Chapter 1: what to expect from a manager
    • Chapters 3, 4, 5
  • The Making of a Manager by Julie Zhuo
    • Contains useful rituals that you can use to start.
  • Life Labs: Hybrid & Remote Work Playbook (Part II)
    • Contains very concrete practical tips on managing a hybrid/remote team.
    • This worked well for me: “Rotate meeting facilitators for optimal visibility and conversational turn-taking.”
  • Multipliers by Liz Wiseman
  • Managers Playbook on GitHub by Kamil Sindi
    • Sometimes, you just need actionable advice.

Self Reflection #

  • What’s the role of a manager? In what ways are you adding value, and how does that differ from the ways you were adding value as an IC?
  • How are you getting your sense/feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment? What are some new sources you should acquire, and what are some sources that you should let go of?
    • These former sources of dopamine are holding you back.
  • How are you receiving feedback? Are you getting enough of it?
  • In what ways are you adding value to the team, and how has that changed over the past year?
  • What new (personal) systems/habits do you need to create? What old systems/habits do you need to sunset?

Year 2 #

Reading #

Read and critique.

Promoting People

Useful Guide for Giving Tough Feedback #

There is also classic SCARF, but idk I found that too “fluffy”. This is more concrete.

Feedback Skills Key Points.pdf

Self Reflection #

  • In your current management style, where are you on the spectrum between autonomy and alignment? What level of detail do you need?
  • What information flows are you missing? What information flows are obsolete?
  • How do you know you are good? How do you know your team is good?

Year 3 #

(Probably more content on stakeholder mgmt, and shift focus away from team mgmt.)

Reading #

Read, reflect, and adapt.

  • Team Topologies
    • Chapter 4, 5 - describes shape and expectations for different types of teams (esp. platform/infrastructure)
  • Good Strategy/Bad Strategy
    • TBD specific chapters
  • That OKR book - what was it called again?
  • The Leadership Pipeline
    • Chapter 2: From Managing Self to Managing Others

Practical Finance for Software Engineering | Part 1: Understanding Variable Costs and Fixed Costs

Self-Reflection #

  • How do you know that your team is contributing to the company’s growth?
  • How do you know that your priorities are aligned with the company’s strategy?

Punt #

  • It’s useful if you are looking for a specific solution to a specific challenge.
  • Not too useful until you have seen a few patterns repeat.