akshay deo

Engineering Management

Engineering Management is a tough job; the more so because of no formal training for most of us. Let it be external or internal hires; most of the first time EMs learn things on the job. In my first stint, which was my startup, I sucked big time. I was a lousy manager, a horrible team member, and an ineffective CTO.

When I moved back to an IC role, I realized that It’s not just the EM, but his team, product, and customers suffer because of his mistakes. Some great engineering managers like Will Larson, Michael Lopp are quite vocal about the common errors and possible ways to improve our management styles. When it comes to books, An Elegant Puzzle, Managing Humans, The first 90 Days are a few of the fantastic books that could help us become a better Engineering manager.

An Elegant Puzzle
by Will Larson
Managing Humans
by Michael Lopp
The first 90 Days
by Michael Watkins

When I was preparing for my Engineering Manager role at Postman, I realized that these sources provide an excellent context on probable solutions, but comes with very little information about the implementation. Though this is the last step in the process, it’s a tricky one. When I was experimenting, I came across many possible components that may help me implement effective engineering management processes.

Then I evaluated apps like Friday, Know your team, which implement processes like 1-1’s, Standups, Weekly checks. These apps provide limited integrations with Slack but not adequate to allow teams to interact with them from Slack itself. Asking to switch context is a big issue. I think tools like Slack (and Teams πŸ™„) are the best places to integrate engineering management flows, no redirections, no third party UX, no context switches!

I am not disregarding the usefulness of any of these tools mentioned in the above paragraph. It’s just that I found it challenging to integrate these tools with Slack without making my team switching the context for engineering management workflows.

Hence Signals; a blog/notes series, and a rock-solid implementation of these engineering management processes with least friction and maximum visibility. Signals is going to be an iterative process. At a particular stage, I plan to make these tools open source, so everyone can contribute and elevate the quality of the product.

This is not an expert blog series or silver bullet for all the engineering managers. But this is my attempt to discuss and improve my engineering management processes in the open. ✌️


πŸ™ Principles

2020 09 25 Slack

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