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Your team is not a democracy

TLDR: During a difficult team discussion, holding an impromptu vote to resolve the issue is rarely the right move. Trust your team but, as the manager, you may have critical information that your team does not and you are ultimately responsible. It is OK to make decisions that go against the majority view.

 

Imagine you are a manager on a team. The team is debating a thorny issue. There is disagreement on the best way to move forward and someone suggests putting it to a vote. As the manager, should you let the majority decide?

My own personal take is that as a manager, putting it to a vote is rarely the right move.

It is certainly your duty to stimulate debate. Encourage everyone to speak up, and ensure anyone who can’t seem to get a word in is given space. You should challenge the team into creative and out-of-the box thinking.

Ultimately you, as the leader of the team, need to make the call however. Why?

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What is an Engineering Manager?

The role of an Engineering Manager (aka Development Manager) will vary from company to company, but this post covers what, in my humble opinion, the core expectations, duties and deliverables of an EM are.

It is intended primarily as a guide to engineers who are starting down the path of Engineering Management.

At its essence, the role of an EM is about:

Building, leading and retaining high performance teams that regularly ship software to meet business requirements.

 

Let’s break that down into 5 key areas…

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Blog post summary: What is an Engineering Manager?

I liked the short What is an Engineering Manager? post on the AWS blog (from David Ives @ Pusher). This is a summary, but the original is worth reading and not much longer…

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Preparing for 1-1s as a manager

1-1s are likely to be some of the most important meetings on your calendar. This post discusses how to prepare and run these in a way that makes them useful for both you and your team member, and helps keep both of you accountable.

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So you want to be a Manager?

Despite how satisfying and fun designing and writing software can be, building high performing teams can be even more so. The highs are higher and the lows are lower, but overall it can be an incredibly rewarding career and developing future leaders on your team is a key responsibility.

So, as a manager, how do you handle an individual contributor (IC) engineer on your team expressing interest in becoming a manager?

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OSCON Day3 – The Joys of Engineering Leadership

The first talk of Day 3 at OSCON was “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People: The Joys of Engineering Leadership” by Brian ‘Fitz’ Fitzpatrick and Ben Collins-Sussman, both from Google.

What is an engineering leader?

  • Serves the team
  • Eliminates roadblocks
  • Provides advice, guidance and helps get job done
  • Mutual respect/Mutual trust
  • Promotes technical and social health
  • Leadership is not a waste of time…
  • Being a team leader is a way of scaling yourself

The speakers broke their talk on how to be a good leader down in to two sections, which were (in good coding tradition) patterns and anti-patterns…

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