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: 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: 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: The toughest question you can ask, isn't tough enough

    One skill all engineers need to have in order to ship high quality software is the ability to ask hard questions. No matter if you are a developer, a tester, or a project manager, you need to look at each situation, line of code, architecture/design, or user scenario and determine if you and your project...
  • 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: What are your intentions?

    When it comes to determining someone's intentions, it's fairly easy to do after a few drinks and a walk back to your apartment with someone you just met at the bar. But let's not go there. :-) Knowing someone's intentions becomes much more difficult in a work setting. What if the scope of your work got...
  • Blog Post: Vision Without Action is a Daydream, Action Without Vision is a Nightmare

    Does your team have a vision? If it doesn’t, it should. I heard this saying once that really sums it up, “vision without action is a daydream, action without vision is a nightmare”. In my experience, most teams are taking action yet the team vision is non-existent. Now I wouldn’t...
  • 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: 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: 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: The Tactics of Making a Strategy

    As a team leader or manager, people will look to you to describe the direction the team is heading in the future - the strategy. Here is a surprising definition from www.dictionary.com that makes me wonder how similar managing a group of engineers is to leading a war. Some days, I can definitely see...
  • Blog Post: Build It and They Will Come!...Really?

    The concept of "build it and they will come" may be a good approach for pyramids and baseball fields , but not for engineering projects. Good engineers are creative and come up with plenty of ideas about features for products and tools for better engineering practices. But what they do with these ideas...
  • 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: No Surprises!

    This is what I aim for in my teams - no surprises. That means my team members do their best to not surprise me and I also aim to not surprise them. Surprises are great when it comes to birthdays at home with family and friends. But in corporate life, there's just no room for surprises. Even something...
  • Blog Post: Play Some Interference

    Managers need to play interference in order for their engineers to stay focused and show results . Someone who is good at this will know when to give their team information and when to shelf the information for later or sometimes not at all. But it's not just about filtering information. When issues...
  • Blog Post: There's No Room For Watermelons

    I have noticed a problem lately that needs some focus. I heard a statement that sums it up nicely. "Don't be green on the outside and red on the inside." Now if this was a joke (What's green on the outside and red on the inside?") I can think of a few answers like a frog, an alien (of course, maybe they...
  • Blog Post: The Tale of Two Teams

    Once upon a time, a long time ago, in a land far, far away, there were two teams, umm, I mean villages. They were run by one manager, I mean one powerful king. He didn't have many rules for his villagers, just one, "do whatever it takes to ship". For his villagers, this gave them a lot of freedoms and...
  • 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...
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