Another month, another book review [1]. This time it’s “The Manager’s Path” by Camille Fournier. This was quite the good read and I felt like I got a lot out of it. It seem to pop up a lot on first time managers reading lists and its been recently doing the rounds at work as well. Mostly cause there’s a lot of us these days.

The book aims to be a manual for management of software engineering teams. Is has a straightforward structure: several chapters, each covering one level in a typical engineering management ladder. So it starts with individual contributor, the goes on to lead engineer, manager, manager of managers/director and finishes with the executive roles: VPs and CTOs.

For each level there’s also a common structure - typical expectations, pitfalls to avoid, case studies etc. Most of the stuff resonated from my (super limited) experience. There were several things which perhaps bear repeating.

First, this is more or less a career change from software engineering. Not a promotion, not a “modifier” (except at the entry level perhaps, in some companies). Treat it as such and see that’s it’s the thing you want to do. If you only see it as the only natural progression at the company where you work, it’s not going to live up to your expectations. And you’re better off moving to a company with a solid individual contributor career trajectory

Second, point number one taken into account, you are still the engineering manger. So you need to know enough if the tech parts of the job to contribute. At lower levels through code reviews, architecture proposals etc and at higher levels through tehnology choices, strategic decisions etc.

Anyways, there’s a wealth of extra information in this books, from how to manage your career, to how to interact with other departments. Well worth your time.

[1] Ha! If I only had such a good cadence.