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: 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: Don't Show Me Your Ugly Duck Feet!

    Picture this, it's a nice warm summer day and you are relaxing next to a lake. There is no breeze in the air so the surface of the water is very still and you see a duck. It floats by, calm and quiet, with just a small V-shaped ripple in the water behind it. You admire its graceful nature. Doesn't it...
  • Blog Post: Are You Aware That You Lack Awareness?

    Recently I took a very interesting training class. As part of that class, we had to sit still in the room for 8 minutes with our eyes closed and become aware of sensations in our body. How hard can that be right? Yep, it was easy. I was hungry, maybe a bit tired, and eventually fairly bored with this...
  • 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: Superheroes Don't Work at Corporations

    This message is for the workaholics out there, and not for those of you who barely want to get your work done, who aren’t interested in doing more than just what is asked at work, or who have a balanced lifestyle so that you are seeing many years of success within your career. This blog won’t...
  • Blog Post: Advice From Your 95 year old Self

    There you are sitting on your death bed. Yep, you had a good life. And although many people have come to visit you and feel sad for you, you aren't sad. You are content. You did absolutely everything you wanted to do and had a ton of happiness along the way. If you had to live your life over again, you...
  • 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: 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: 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: Are you up for the challenge?

    If you read my blog, learn something new from it, or think in the same way as I do, why not see how my thinking gets put into action by becoming a member of my team. I am hiring SDETs (developers with a focus on QA) and this is an opportunity you don't want to miss. Are you up for the challenge? Just...
  • Blog Post: Everyone Wants To Test

    You are new to testing. You are sitting in front of your computer staring at the software you need to test. What do you do? Let's look at testing from a very basic level and maybe this will help you make progress. If you don't "get it" at this level, you should consider if being a tester is the right...
  • 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...
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