The Colorful and Gray World of Engineering Management

Embark with me on my journey through the colorful situations & challenges and the (gray) ambiguity of management in the software industry.

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  • Blog Post: What's Your New Currency?

    There's a change spreading across the software engineering landscape. What you thought you knew about testing and shipping software is changing and it's time we all get on board. Some of us older engineers have learned how to ship software in a traditional way similar to the Waterfall methodology . But...
  • Blog Post: How Many Days Away Are You?

    Here is how a career as people manager typically plays out. You are an engineer and really good at what you do. You are an expert in a technology or a specific domain. Then you become the boss. Your main responsibility isn't to be the expert anymore. It's to manage and grow experts on your team. So as...
  • Blog Post: Sometimes At Work, We Act Like Dogs

    You can only buy loyalty if you buy a dog; otherwise loyalty has to be earned. One of the best things an engineering manager can receive from their team members is loyalty. It's not something that you should ever ask of them, but they may just give it to you anyway. When you have people that are loyal...
  • Blog Post: It Doesn't Take Muscles to Use Your Strengths

    But it does take a manager that understands how to leverage strengths. Many managers say they do this, but I'd question if they really think this way, if "leveraging peoples' strengths" is really part of their DNA. The reason I question this is because many companies have defined roles for people to...
  • Blog Post: Experienced to the Level of Obsolete

    Some days I just amaze myself. I can be tired, even exhausted, and not very focused on work. Still I can go into a work meeting, make a few comments and add a ton of value. And I can do this again and again and again until I really don't need to pay much attention because I am adding value just by the...
  • Blog Post: Good News!

    Today I was recognized on another website that focuses specifically on Engineering Management. I'm happy to be listed as one of the top 25 Engineering Management blogs of 2012. Check it out here: www.engineering-management.net/top-engineering-management-blogs-2012 . I really enjoy writing my blog entries...
  • Blog Post: Integrity With a Dose of Confidence Part2

    My last blog was about how to act as a person with integrity, how to make sure you are thinking in terms of doing the right things for the right reasons no matter hard difficult that may be to do. Sometimes the easiest route is not the right route. As you continue to become a person of integrity, there...
  • Blog Post: Integrity With a Dose of Confidence

    Ok, I’ll say it because I know others have thought it, but I’m not sure anyone has ever admitted it. Having integrity in your role at work can be tough, very tough! Especially if you are really ambitious. First, let’s make sure we are talking about the same thing here. What I mean by...
  • Blog Post: How Important is the "How"?

    Do you know the best way to succeed in your career? To stand out in the crowd? To prove your capabilities? Well sure, that’s by showing results, a ton of results! You work long hours and stay focused on getting your deliverables done. Right? Well, have you considered the possibility that showing...
  • Blog Post: Up, Up, and Away!

    Picture this visual. You are standing in a field on a foggy day and a rope is dropped in front of you from the sky. You can't see where it is coming from but you hear someone ask you if you want to experience the unknown, be challenged more than ever before, move forward in life while being responsible...
  • Blog Post: A Routine Life is Boring, But Routine Work is Awesome!

    What is your routine? We all have one. Mostly these exist because there are actions we do every day and we can take the same steps to accomplish them. For example, driving to work or brushing your teeth. You can also find routine actions in the work your team does and identifying those can gain your...
  • Blog Post: Transformers are Leaders, not Toys!

    {EAV:fb71307c644189ca} I was recently asked ‘how do you take a team mostly focused on manual testing and turn them into a team that writes solid automation?’. And as I thought about my answer, I realized this doesn't just apply to testing, but any team that is reforming can follow these...
  • Blog Post: If You Want It, Then You Aren't Ready For It

    Are you just dying to get promoted? How about seeing your individual engineering role turn into a lead role? Many people focus on that next step in their career, and with good reason. We all look for ways to grow and challenge ourselves. But many times, people hit a point in their careers where that...
  • Blog Post: Training Your Manager

    We recently did a realignment on my team due to a change of priority of projects. This was a good experience as we moved projects between QA leads so that our workload was more evenly balanced. And then we moved people around from projects that were getting less funding to those that were becoming more...
  • Blog Post: That Team Is Struggling - Great!

    Ok, you are thinking that I'm crazy. If the team is struggling, why would you want to be on it? Or lead it? Do you really want to set yourself up to deal with all the problems that need fixed? And what if they aren't fixable? Doesn't a well-established, smooth-functioning team sound like one where it...
  • Blog Post: The Observer of Perception

    Sometimes as a manager, I not only want to coach people on how to get things done at work, I'd love to be able to help them change the way they think. Early in my career, an engineering coworker used to say that it's all about "behavior modification" but I truly never understood what he meant at the...
  • Blog Post: What are Testers Thankful For?

    When I think about all the issues my QA team has to deal with to ship projects, I wonder as we get closer to Thanksgiving what they are thankful for. What makes their jobs easier or fun? Two things come to mind. Testers are thankful when their developers produce quality builds. Getting a build that...
  • Blog Post: 17 on 17

    On October 17th, I celebrate my 17th anniversary at Microsoft. If someone told me on my first day at work that I would be here for 17 years, I wouldn't have believed them. Besides marriage and family, there's not a lot else that has consistently been in my life for that long. I have new hobbies, live...
  • Blog Post: Over-functioning is Not Job Security

    You would think that under-functioning teams are bad, functioning teams are just right, and over-functioning teams are perfect. But in reality, team members who over-function can cause the team dynamic to change in a way that may not be the desired outcome. At Microsoft, we hire people who are driven...
  • Blog Post: Your boss sucks, so what should you do?

    I was recently asked about the ramifications of giving feedback about your boss. See, at Microsoft, we've become much more serious about gathering feedback and now make peer feedback part of the review process. And we continue to gather manager feedback as always. But giving feedback can be tricky and...
  • Blog Post: Don't Pay the High Tax!

    There are typically two types of individuals at work, ones that are independent and ones that are not. Sound fairly simple? Sure, but what exactly are they dependent on? Their managers. There are many good, valid reasons that cause someone to be more dependent at work such as being in a new role, learning...
  • Blog Post: Do you need a career mentor?

    I was recently asked a question from an engineer on whether she should find a mentor. It seems like many people have mentors so how does one determine if they need one or not? Or does everyone need one and by not having one, are you missing out on something? First, let me describe what I mean by...
  • Blog Post: Speak up to succeed

    Speaking up in meetings seems like such an easy and somewhat insignificant task. But in fact, many people do not say a word while in meetings and never think about the ramifications of this. No matter what profession you are in within the software industry, you will find that career growth into the higher...
  • Blog Post: Don't Be Seduced by the Dark Side

    I was watching a TV show recently (no, it wasn't Star Wars) where a lead character on the show had a ton of integrity and everyone counted on her good judgment. Then within a few episodes, she got corrupted by others and her need to cover-up information continued to grow. This is taking her down a path...
  • Blog Post: No Crystal Ball Required

    One of the most challenge skills to master is long-term planning. This skill is needed for many different tasks at work, especially around project planning, budget planning, and (at a personal level) your career planning. Long-term planning is needed in order to get the most out of these exercises. In...
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