Choosing the Management Track. Notes on Becoming a Tech Lead

Thoughts and resources for new managers.

Tech Lead #

I've changed my role to a Tech Lead in October 2020. It means that for the first time in my career, I'm moving into the management track.

Looking back at my interests in the last couple of years, I realize that it was all connected to management. But, after one month on the job, I've learned more in practice than I would ever imagine. If you're thinking about the move, do it as soon as possible. Even if you fail, you will have a much better context for learning more.

I hope that putting them together can help others make sense of the transition.

I've borrowed part of the title from a great post by Dan NaChoosing the Management Track. #

It made me put into words what I've started noticing for the last month in the role. It would be great if I stumbled it before I've switched to the new position. I want to keep the friendships I've established with my coworkers, but it doesn't seem so easy to do in practice now.

It can be hard to manage friends.

The foundations of friendship are things like equality, honesty, and transparency, principles which don't always jive with a management relationship. Management is a power hierarchy (!equality), and sometimes you'll have to disagree and commit or toe the party line (!honesty / !transparency).

The alternative is special treatment for your friends, which is a management failure because nepotism undermines your credibility as a leader. And in the worst case, you are in the unenviable position of having to terminate a friend's employment. That too is part of the job.

Become an Effective Software Engineering Manager: How to Be the Leader Your Development Team Needs by James Stanier. #

I'm still reading the book as it's pretty comprehensive. Cedric Chin calls those 🌳 tree books. You have an entire field in one book. Commonly they have the disadvantage of not being too practical, but the first part of the book is a comprehensive list of things a new manager needs to do so

  1. It helps you orient yourself in the new role.
  2. Gives you the tree of knowledge ahead of you.
  3. Recommends books to learn more about each particular topic.

Interview with Daniel Ek, Founder and CEO of Spotify #

Especially the section On Good Meetings

A great meeting has three key elements:
the desired outcome of the meeting is clear ahead of time;
the various options are clear, ideally ahead of time;
and the roles of the participants are clear at the time.



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