Work Posts

  • There's no manual for how to be a software engineering manager. But these will help.


    I definitely didn’t know what the heck I was doing when I first became a manager way back in 2004. I was just the least bad person to fill a needed role. But over almost 2 decades of managing technical teams, I have read a lot and learned a lot from great managers around me. I’ve come to believe that there are a dozen+ resources that hit all the key points on how to be a great manager. I think these form the basis of a learning track for engineering management. I've listed them below, divided based on different stages of maturity.

  • Speedy meetings are awesome, but not the way Google created them


    Google introduced Speedy Meetings in 2011, which shortens meetings from 30 to 25 or 60 to 50 minutes. The intended goal was to allow you to “prep for your next meeting or get to your next appointment if you have a packed schedule.”

    Speedy Meetings

    Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, speedy meetings the way Google has created them just don’t work. The temptation to keep the meeting going until :30 or :00 is just overwhelming. Human nature leads to people to keep talking past the supposed speedy meeting end time.

    But there is a solution. Instead of ending meetings early, I’ve found it works much better to start meetings late! Wait wait, I know this sounds crazy, but hear me out.

  • Boost your 1-on-1s with this one simple trick


    The number one rule of being a manager is to have 1-on-1s with your direct reports (Don’t believe me? Read this and this and this). But the best 1-on-1s are those where your direct report has spent time thinking about what they want to discuss with you. How can you ensure this happens?

    In my experience, some of your employees will jump at the opportunity to have uninterrupted time with their manager, and they will have a million things they want to talk about. But what about the other type of employee? At least half, if not more, of your employees need to spend time reflecting and thinking about what they want to get out of the meeting beforehand. How do you encourage these people to prepare for their 1-on-1 with you?

    I’ve found that sending a specific, helpful, and timely reminder email can have a huge impact on the quality of your 1-on-1s. Sounds easy, right? Let me show you how you can set this up automatically.