Engineering Manager Series

Hi Everybody! It’s time to go back. 🙂

For a while, I wasn’t writing blog posts because I was trying to transform my career from individual contributor to engineering manager what I wanted to get experience for the last couple of years. Learning never ends and it shouldn’t. Otherwise, life would be so boring if you repeat yourself. But if you are new on a field, at the start it needs to push more effort, at least for me. I remember my first year of professional life; I was reading, trying till midnight almost every day to be able to build a base. Anyway, last year(especially the first 3 months) and while preparing for my change was exactly like this. I still read and research a lot and it will never stop but in a more balanced way.

Over this period, I saved the links that I thought can be helpful and returned re-read them. And also each week, I share a time to explore the trends if I’m having trouble with some issue or observe that at some point, improvement can be done or just to read over that week’s interesting articles. I have a nice library now and it’s growing day by day. All of my friends and family were so supportive during this period, I also joined a coaching group thanks to my company, got help from my senior manager and peer-managers; but 3 women’s contributions were extraordinary with their expertise and patience, who is my life coaches. I hope I can be helpful to them also. Thank you Melike OzdemirBurcu Geneci and Nazli Temurtas. You’re my heroes.

Anyway, sharing is the best thing to grow together. I’ll try to share the articles that I liked to read at the end of each week. Let’s see together if I’ll accomplish this goal or until when 🙂

So let’s start with talking about what an engineering manager’s work consists of because this is the first post of the series! Don’t worry next posts won’t be that long. Just this one. My actual work is a combination of people management, project management, technical leadership, working on team/division strategy, and some operational tasks. As everyone says the biggest difference between IC and EM is you’re not responsible just for yourself anymore, your success is your team’s success and your failure is your team’s failure. One of the most important things to be successful as a team is to listen, understand and know each other. So most of my work is getting engaged with people, an endless learning path.

Now we’re ready. So, start with the basics. One of my favorite is Google’s re:work website. It includes lots of different tools and articles to make an impact in our workplace. There are 8 common subjects that we can explore under them which are;

  • GOAL SETTING
  • HIRING
  • INNOVATION
  • LEARNING & DEVELOPMENT
  • MANAGERS
  • PEOPLE ANALYTICS
  • TEAMS
  • UNBIASING

There is always a debate that whether managers matters or not. According to Gallup’s research, yes it’s. So what are the common characteristics of a great manager in today’s world. Again under re:work, there is research output for this. You can read the details from link but it shows that there are 10;

  1. Is a good coach
  2. Empowers team and does not micromanage
  3. Creates an inclusive team environment, showing concern for success and well-being.
  4. Is productive and result-oriented.
  5. Is a good communicator – listens and shares information.
  6. Supports career development and discusses performance.
  7. Has a clear vision/strategy for the team.
  8. Has key technical skills to help advise the team.
  9. Collaborates across the company.
  10. Is a strong decision maker.

One last nice thing from re:Work is new manager training documents. I hope these links can be helpful. There are lots of different tools, techniques and blog posts under re:Work, you can explore more.

Another very helpful company blog is gitlab’s leadership handbook. Remote working raised with pandemic but it’s not new for gitlab. They are a remote company. So including leadership tips there are a lot of handful tips for engagement while working remotely. I don’t remember how many times I read over again and used some of the tips that became very helpful. You can explore more but I’ll share my lifesavers here.

One of the most important is building a trusted environment. It takes time and energy. To leverage informal communication can help to build trust. But what are the different ways can be in the remote world. The gitlab’s link gives lots of alternatives for this. Of course, after you tried some of them, evaluate yours according to your team’s dynamics.

Working all-remote tips: https://about.gitlab.com/company/culture/all-remote/tips/

While started to explore online trainings, my favourite websites changed a little bit. Now it’s Linkedin learning after youtube of course. One of the trainings that helped me incredibly to organize my thoughts and explore what situations I can face with at my preparation period. And if a friend asks help from me to want to change the career to EM, the first thing I offer that this series. It’s Chris Croft‘s Inspirational Leadership Skills: Practical Motivational Leadership video training. Yes, we need to have a clear vision and strategy but how we can develop this, what’re the different motivation factors, at which point we can use delegation, how we can show our thank to our team members and some more critical topics.

One last topic I want to share for this post is first 90 days. Originally it comes from US president’s first 100 days.

In the United States, no one talked that much about the importance of a president’s first 100 days—until Franklin D. Roosevelt took office in 1933. He took swift action to calm the nation’s crippling financial panic (cue the Emergency Banking Act and the “fireside chats” that became Roosevelt’s signature) and began rolling out the programs that made up his New Deal, including 15 major pieces of legislation in the first 100 days. FDR’s extraordinary productivity translated into enormous popularity, and he set a first 100-day standard against which all future U.S. presidents would (perhaps unfairly) be measured.

https://www.history.com/news/fast-facts-on-the-first-100-days

If we return back to our journey, the most useful article I found for myself was David Loftesness, Twitter’s former Director of Engineering’s first 90 day agenda on the link. There are more than this in the article, so I strongly advise you to read but to summarize;

  • Day 0: Inevitable Truths You Need to Accept Upfront
  • Days 1-30: Own Your Education
  • Days 31-60: Find Your Rhythm
  • Days 61-90: Assess yourself: Do you actually want this?
  • Day 90: Resolve to Step Up or Aside

“After 90 days, if you’re not able to answer what’s unique about each member of the team, you haven’t had the right conversations or asked the right questions.”

https://review.firstround.com/this-90-day-plan-turns-engineers-into-remarkable-managers

And also, gitlab has a template for this. You can review over the link.

Bonus: If you wonder how engineering managers work at big tech companies and what they do exactly, I liked the following 2 videos. You can add to your watch list.

If you found the article helpful, you can rate/share(under the videos), claps(at the top of the article) or make comment so I can improve my series. See you at the next post!

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