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The Manager's Guide – #57
Used to be called “The Leadership Garden Newsletter”
New week, new name and platform – I migrated The Leadership Garden Newsletter to Substack and to a new name – The Manager’s Guide. It’s still the same old weekly curation under the hood, though I’ll occasionally write more in-depth pieces on certain topics.
Takeaways and summary of the live session between Jordan Cutler, John Crickett, Gregor Ojstersek, and Caleb Mellas. Be sure to watch the recoding, it’s a goldmine!
💼 Salary negotiation:
Be respectful, appreciative, and collaborative during negotiation.
Ask for the salary range upfront, to aim for the high end.
Align company goals with your skills during negotiation.
Negotiate beyond salary, such as benefits.
Soft skills and relationships are crucial for promotion.
Start discussing promotion early and follow up on feedback.
Align your promotion goals with the company's objectives.
Engineers should lead the agenda, discussing opportunities, feedback, pain points.
Avoid status updates, focus on meaningful topics.
Use 1-on-1s to prevent surprises in performance reviews.
🧠 Showing value as a junior engineer: Showcase passion, growth mindset, and team collaboration.
🤔 Insights on middle managers:
Middle management is challenging due to adaptability and limited power.
Offer support to your manager to lighten their load.
🌶️ Fun hot takes:
Remote work can increase productivity.
Open-ended questions preferred over Leetcode interviews.
Startups favored over big-tech for work variety.
📚 Top book recommendations:
“Five Dysfunctions of a Team” for team skills.
“Being Geek” and “Managing Humans” for software development and management.
“Clean Code” for code organization.
“It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work” for recognizing unhealthy culture.
“Smart Brevity” for improved communication.
🚀 Amid the labyrinth of decision-making, teams frequently grapple with the quagmire of stagnation.
🎯 Guided by Pixar's Michael B. Johnson, a robust tactic emerges: “Do something, so we can change it!” A lifeline for impasse.
🏆 At the heart of it, lies the core axiom—action as the compass to navigate the maze of inertia and forge ahead.
🛒 Echoes from Amazon's playbook illuminate the landscape with the concept of “two-way doors” — choices with reversible implications.
🚪 Diverging paths appear: “one-way doors,” irreversible leaps, and “two-way doors,” the realm of adaptability and evolution.
🔄 The allure of “two-way doors” lies in their elastic nature, welcoming learning from trials and enabling iterative enhancements.
🔀 The art lies in the alchemy of transforming one-way dilemmas into pliable two-way options, embracing the dance of flexibility.
⚖️ The crescendo is a harmonious blend—a symphony of calculated irreversible choices counterpointed by the rhythm of agile and strategic actions, steering the voyage towards progress.
Moving from individual contributor (IC) to engineering manager is a big move. These promotions are done very differently across industry, with varying results. Here we’ll go over some best practices for this change.
😊 Motivations for becoming an engineering manager:
Love for solving people problems.
Enjoyment of managing projects end to end.
Interest in the seriousness of managing people.
Belief in personal capability for the role.
🙅 Bad reasons for becoming a manager:
Seeking authority, money, or prestige.
Boredom with current role.
Desire to avoid being on-call.
🛠️ Necessary skills for an engineering manager:
Effective written and verbal communication.
Durability to handle stress and setbacks.
Ability to deliver bad news and prioritize what's right.
Technical competence at a Senior Engineering level.
Patience and urgency in management.
🧐 Team Lead role pitfalls:
Indecisiveness in transitioning to management.
Using Team Lead role as a trial or budget-saving measure.
Team Lead setup often leads to failure due to inadequate development of key skills.
🚴 Managing with training wheels:
New managers should start with support and guidance.
Encouragement to handle normal tasks while seeking help for difficult situations.
Partnership and guidance from higher-level managers in challenging decisions.
🌟 Successful management requires:
Right motivations, necessary skills, and appropriate support.
Differentiating between good and bad company cultures when applying advice.
Acknowledging the unique challenges of transitioning from an IC to a manager role.
Many software engineers are put off of leadership. And performance management is one reason why. Yet growing other engineers can be one of the most rewarding aspects of leadership.
🎯 Effective performance management leads to better career advancement and job satisfaction.
🧑💼 Leadership should be based on cultivation and quality research.
🏋️ Performance management involves coaching and guiding team members.
🔑 Performance managers need to provide credible guidance to help team members succeed.
🤝 Building shared awareness between managers and developers is crucial.
🃏 The “Trading Card Game” metaphor is used to explain skill development.
🌟 Developers collect competencies like trading cards to build custom skill sets.
🔄 Roles and leadership skills overlap, guiding competency acquisition.
🎯 Focus on strengths rather than trying to excel in everything.
📈 Assess skills at different levels using models like the Dreyfus model.
🤝 Team competencies should complement each other for effective collaboration.
🌍 Context matters in selecting competencies relevant to the organization.
🗣️ Self-assessments should be supplemented with feedback for accuracy.
🃏 Approach performance management with capabilities in mind.
🌟 Consider the wider context of teams and organizations for focused development.
Service disruptions; production incidents reduce reputation and revenue.
🌟 Resilience and observability are key for avoiding disruptions and maintaining reputation.
🎯 Align resilience with customer value to prevent overengineering.
🤖 Understand issues before automating solutions; identify fault lines and stress points.
🛠️ Leverage techniques for gathering requirements and involve various roles in the process.
🏛️ Adapt architecture as the business grows to meet changing resilience needs.
💡 Implement effective error recovery strategies using caching, retries, and modern cloud services.
🚦 Design business-appropriate failure modes to protect user experience.
🔄 Continuously optimize resilience through chaos testing and specialist recruitment.
🚨 Differentiate between resilience and disaster recovery planning.
📈 Maintain or improve reliability with observability aligned with SLAs.
🚀 Resilience and observability phases during growth:
Experimenting Phase: Prototype for rapid market entry.
Getting Traction Phase: Implement manual resilience, prioritize based on debt.
(Hyper) Growth Phase: Deliver resilience as a core feature, reflect customer experience.
Optimizing Phase: Productize observability, run chaos tests, recruit experts.
🌐 Incorporate resilience into business goals, monitor metrics, and integrate it across the organization.
The article discusses communication strategies when trust is low and the challenges of rebuilding relationships.
✨ Small, positive interactions are key to rebuilding trust, even if communication is strained.
💬 Acknowledge communication difficulties upfront to slow down and be intentional with words.
🗣️ Speak tentatively to allow for differing perceptions and make sharing safer.
😊 Using friendly language, “please,” “thank you,” and emojis softens responses and reduces misunderstandings. (should be the standard, but hey, here we are)
🧘 Taking a breath before responding when experiencing panic helps prevent unintentional escalations.
📖 Reading books on handling difficult conversations, like “Crucial Conversations,” can be helpful.
🧠 Question assumptions about negative intent by sharing “The story in my head” and seeking clarification.
💬 Communicate with positive intent, using language that overcommunicates your meaning to avoid misunderstandings.
🙏 Give people opportunities to do better by assuming they mean well and seeking clarification.
🤝 Engineer positive interactions to balance difficult conversations with positive ones.
📣 Remember that online communication loses nuance, and be considerate of varied communication skills.
🤗 Value effort, especially if someone struggles with written communication or different languages.
Most so-called “strategies” are vague, wishful thinking, written once and never seen again. Don’t do that. These are the characteristics of great strategy.
🗝️ Strategy involves communicating “how we will win” and isn't solely determined by document format.
🗝️ Great strategy simplifies complexity for better understanding and decision-making.
🗝️ Effective strategy is candid, addressing difficult truths and existential challenges.
🗝️ Decisive strategy asserts clear, self-consistent decisions and accepts consequences.
🗝️ Leveraging strengths is essential, creating amplified effects from efforts.
🗝️ Asymmetric strategy focuses on activities with significant upside potential
🗝️ Good strategy involves a portfolio of asymmetric bets to navigate uncertain
💡 Exploiting asymmetries is vital for a successful strategy, even with failures.
💡 Agility in strategy involves identifying the right path, adjusting to new information.
💡 Strategy requires a long-term view, considering challenges, outcomes, and activities.
💡 Clear vision statement describes successful future state.
💡 Strategy focuses on critical long-term challenges for future victory.
💡 Bad strategy lacks simplicity, candor, decisiveness, leverage, asymmetry, and futuristic focus.
💡 Vision statement is foundation, capturing future success.
💡 Strategy selects high-value opportunities, not just the immediate.
💡 Strategy should have clear decisions that capitalize on strengths.
💡 Strategy aims for far-reaching goals with substantial potential rewards.
💡 Strategy must predict the unpredictable future beyond data.
💡 Strategy shouldn't be generic or solely financial, but specific and actionable.
💡 Constructing a strategy involves understanding vision, mission, and execution concepts.