The Manager's Path - guts of the first three chapters

16 May 2017

This is part 1 of X of my summary of Camille Fournier’s “The Manager’s Path”. It’s based on the idea that anything I’ve highlighted while reading it is worth remembering. This is a very, very good book - and IMHO anyone who’s in any kind of a lead or management position in the tech industry should have a very dog-eared copy close by. Ideally, have two copies so you can lend one to someone who needs it.

Ch01 - Management 101

  • One-on-one meetings with your direct manager are an essential feature of a good working relationship
  • Regular opportunity for you to speak privately with your manager about whatever needs discussing
  • Good 1:1s are not status meetings
  • Expect feedback from your manager
  • Only thing worse than getting feedback is not getting feedback
  • Feedback will ideally be public when it’s praise, and private when it’s criticism
  • Your manager needs to be your Number One ally
  • Good managers help you to understand the value of the work you’re doing
  • Your manager holds some responsibility for helping you find training and other resources
  • But expect that you’re responsible for figuring out what kind of training you need
  • Your manager will contribute to your career growth through promotion and (maybe) compensation
  • They should have an idea whether your’re ready to be promoted
  • Part of being a good manager is knowing how to be managed
  • Spend time thinking about what you want
  • But the only person you can reply on to pull through is yourself
  • Going after what you want is also your responsibilty
  • When you’re persistently unhappy, say something.
  • Give your manager a break - they’re only human as well
  • Your relationship with your manager is like any other - the only person you can change is yourself
  • Bring solutions, not problems
  • Choose your managers wisely

Ch02 - Mentoring

  • Mentoring is an opportunity to learn the job of management in a (fairly) safe way
  • You’re (partly) responsible for another person
  • Interns: they need a project to work on
  • Interns: once you’ve found a project, break it down for them
  • Listening is the first and most basic skill of management, and a precursor to empathy, which is one of the core skills
  • People aren’t good at saying what they want in a way that others can understand
  • Be prepared to say complex things several times in different ways
  • Be able to communicate what needs to happen
  • Be prepared and able to adjust to their responses
  • New hire: your job is to bring them onboard, help them adjust, and help them build a network
  • New hire: You’ll get an entree into their networks
  • Mentoring: tell your mentee what you expect from her
  • Mentoring: be reliable - don’t say yes and then fail to do the mentoring work
  • Mentoring: think about what you want to get out of this relationship, and come prepared
  • Alpha geeks: driven to be the best engineer, always have the answers, solve the hard problems
  • Alpha geeks: claim the credit for themselves, gleefully points out ignorance, is rigid about ideas, threatened by criticism
  • Alpha geeks: if people don’t come to you for help, are you the alpha geek?
  • Alpha geeks: be very careful about promoting them into management
  • Mentoring: why are you setting up this relationship in the first place?
  • Mentoring: remember it’s additional responsibility
  • Mentoring: reward and train your future leaders
  • Mentoring: be curious and open-minded
  • Mentoring: use this as an opportunity to hone your communication skills
  • Mentoring: it’s an opportunity to build your network
  • Mentoring: remember, careers are long and the tech world is small - treat the other person well

Ch03 - Tech Lead

  • Tech lead isn’t a point on the career ladder, but a set of responsibilities that any engineer can take on when they reach the senior level
  • One definition: a leader, responsible for a team, who spends > 30% of their time writing code with the team
  • As a tech lead, it’s all about balance
  • Your priority is to take a wide view of the work and keep the project moving
  • Agile doesn’t get rid of the need for project management
  • Never miss the opportunity to explain basics and motivation to senior or junior members of the team
  • Understand the architecture
  • Don’t do all the interesting work yourself
  • Don’t only do the boring work
  • Figure out which decisions need to be made by you, which can delegated, and which need the whole team
  • The one universal talent of successful leaders is communication skills
  • Don’t forget to listen while communicating