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I've accidentally applied a lot of the concepts in this book before I even read it and I have had a very strong career so far. Only issue with the book so far is that the author's first language doesn't seem to be English. They often have bad grammar and will use pronouns jaringly. They will switch from he to she willy-nilly instead of just using They when referring to a theoretical manager or employee.
Good stuff. Most of it is common sense, but it’s a really good recap because of that. The author defines pitfalls and how to improve and this is super interesting. Seeing the differences between manager and senior manager was super interesting for my future career.
Incredibly helpful context, both broad and deep, for the usual leadership positions (from mentor through team lead and all the way up) in a typical tech company. I wish I'd read this at the start of my career; now that I've been dropped in the team-leadership deep end it's a lifesaver. I can't recommend this highly enough.
Fui recentemente promovida a Tech Lead e foi-me recomendado este livro. Tenho a dizer que tem sido bastante útil a sua leitura para me ajudar a adaptar melhor a este cargo. Gostava de ter lido isto antes, por isso mesmo que ainda não sejam Tech Leads, vale a pena lerem.
I am an experienced technology executive and consultant for engineering managers and execs. Based on my experience, this book is now the best book you can buy to learn modern engineering management.
Previous contenders have included Peopleware, High-Output Management, The Mythical Man-Month, Good To Great, and others you've probably heard of. They are fine books, but they are either somewhat out of date, overly general, or a combination of both. This book is different. Fournier's book is a comprehensive overview of all the roles on the career path of modern technical management (starting from "senior engineer mentoring an intern" all the way up to CTO) and how to deal with the challenges at every step of the way.
What sets this book apart, other than being comprehensive, is that it is the product of direct and highly relevant experience. Fournier has worked at huge companies, small startups, and medium-sized companies, all in hyper-competitive industry settings. You've probably read other management books and it always goes like this: they give you a piece of general advice about how to deal with an issue. You try it (assuming it is even specific enough to put into action and isn't just a feel-good HR platitude), you run into a snag, and now the advice is useless because the rosy assurances in the book about how employees were going to act reasonably didn't really work. You throw the book away and think there is something wrong with you because everyone keeps on talking about how the book is great and it's just your fault that you couldn't make this great advice work.
Fournier's advice is not like that.
She starts with the general outlines of the strategy, but then tells you about times when she had to confront the issue herself, how she tried to apply the strategy and screwed up (there are instances in the book where she openly admits "The first time I tried this I fell flat on my face"), what kinds of problems kept the strategy from working, how she modified the strategy and overcame the problems, and finally and most importantly, wraps up with a summary about how context and trade-offs affect how you apply the advice. Acknowledging and explaining how common variations and implementation details determine how a general strategy will play out is what makes this book unusually useful and relevant.
Because everyone's job and situation are a little bit different, Fournier does an excellent job of breaking down broad strategies into their core principles, while separating out which details you can change based on individual situations, so that you can choose between trade-offs when you apply the strategy to the specific challenge you are confronting.
Lastly, this book will give you confidence. Confidence that you're not alone, that others have faced the same problems and surmounted them, that you can do it too. Confidence that you can screw something up but still pick up the pieces and try again, that you'll still get it right the second or third time, and that you are going to get to where you want to go.
This book is the product of years of tough lessons and hard-won success. Buy it. You won't regret it.
If you are in technology but not software development not all of the guidance is going to be relatable. The first few chapters are on the relationship of you being a contributor and dealing with a tech manager. There are a few chapters in the middle with really useful ideas for new managers of a team. Then the book inexplicably goes down the management of multiple teams (director, vp, c-level). Why like a third of a book for people just transitioning into tech management is spent on roles you won’t be in for years or decades down the road is beyond me.
Recommendation - look for a used copy in good condition and don’t pay more than $10 for it.
Not a bad book. My favorite part is on pages 40-42 where the author explains the imaginary vs. real life of an individual contributor vs. manager. Other things I liked are e.g., tips like developing some redundancy so that no one is indispensible and that when you get into the big leagues you might need to reach out to someone externally for coaching - you no longer have a manager, you have a boss. I mostly learnt (and still learning) much of the advice in the book through practice rather than formal training or education. I take off one star from the book because its mostly 101 and skips the really difficult parts of management much of which I think has to be learnt from coaching and experience. It does not skip them entirely but IMO lacks better coverage and explanation through specific real-world examples.
* How to handle disagreements and conflict? The answer to this varies depending upon who you are dealing with in the organization.
* How to handle insubordination or someone undermining you?
* How to handle non-performing individuals and teams?
Often management has two sides - the one that is taught in books etc. and the one that is practiced. In short, I feel management is closely tied to understanding human psychology and psychology of collective individuals (teams). To become effective manager you have to master human psychology. That is what its all about.
Having grown from being an engineer to manager to startup founder, this is probably the best book I’ve read on the topic of technical leadership and management, and one I wish I’d had available to me a decade ago! All those hard lessons I got from screwing up and learning from my mistakes could have been skipped if Camille’s book had existed then!
Though that dreaded word “manager” is in the title, it is not purely valuable to those who have a strong desire to engage in people management. Part of what I appreciate most about the structure is that the first chapter (which is available as a free PDF download from O’Reilly’s website) is valuable advice for individual contributors to build a better relationship with their managers.
From there, the book steps chapter-by-chapter through the increasing scopes of team ownership you can have: How to be a mentor. How to be a Tech Lead. How to manage a few people… a team… multiple teams… teams of managers of teams. Then finally “the big leagues” of VP/CTO land.
I think the book could be valuable to a wide array of folks:
Existing Engineering Managers — READ IT NOW! READ IT! YOU HAVE NO EXCUSES! Block off time on your calendar if need-be! It gives advice both strategic and tactical.
Engineers who think they might want to be an EM some day — This is the fastest way to see what the career path can look like, and get a sense for whether these are the types of problems you can see yourself being satisfied to think about some day.
Engineers who might want to start a start-up some day — Being a founder isn’t just about the technology. If you’re in any way successful, you’ll have to start to build a team and think about people problems. This will give you a framework for when you’re the boss!
Engineers who are in (or growing towards) Tech Lead roles — The first few chapters will help you understand the way your responsibilities have changed (from being responsible for your own code, to being responsible for the impact of multiple engineers) and give strategies for managing time and expectations. If you keep reading, you can also make educated decisions about if you might want to switch to engineering management in the future.
Every other engineer — Read that free first chapter so you can have better relations with your manager!