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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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How to give difficult feedback

Giving difficult feedback is a critical part of being a manager, and often the part that comes hardest to many. This post covers some strategies for handling that, and dealing with underperformance.

The vast majority of this material (or the good parts, at least) came directly from a great talk by Claire Lew at Know Your Team, and you can find a related post from her in this 4 tips to give tough feedback post. I recently signed up to the Know Your Team annual plan and it has been well worth it.




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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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Engineering Growth Framework from Medium

I recently started a new role, and one of the first things I’ve been looking at is career ladders (aka job rubrics), org structure, and performance reviews (a.k.a. talent reviews or growth frameworks).

In that vein, the Medium Engineering team’s “Growth Framework” was recommended to me, so this is a quick summary of it.

TLDR; Medium have a “Growth Framework” for recognizing and developing their team that uses 4 categories (Building, Executing, Supporting, Strengthening) each with 4 tracks. Each track has 5 increasingly difficult to achieve milestones, and each level of milestone has points associated with it. The more points you have, the higher your level, which translates into job titles. Whew! It is a complex system, and while perhaps more complex than many (especially smaller) organizations need, it is none a very interesting framework which many might use as a reference. The tracks, milestones and examples in particular can be useful inspiration when putting together your own career guides.


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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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What is a Development Manager?

In a previous posting on Agile, I discussed the 3 main roles in Scrum: Scrum Master, Product Owner and the dev team. However, there is also an additional role that is not always considered core, but which is increasingly an integral part of Agile, and that is the Development Manager.


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