Software Executive Magazine

December 2017

Software Executive magazine helps software executives grow their businesses by showcasing the business best practices of our readers, executives from established and innovative software companies.

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How Good Engineering Managers Become Great Engineering Leaders A structured mentoring program can help with recruitment, retention, and development of engineering superstars. Q U A N G H O A N G Cofounder and CEO, Plato the skillset needed to be great managers, but with the right tools, they can learn. THE PATH TO GREAT ENGINEERING LEADERSHIP So what is the best path to turn good engineers into great engineering managers? When you want to en- courage your employees to learn on the job, there are often these three options: 1. Let them learn by doing (trial and error) 2. Let them learn with others (provide mentors/ coaches to help them) 3. Let them learn with resources (books, videos, etc.). Which one of these approaches is best? The short answer: There is no silver bullet. Most of the time, it's some combination of all three things — and it really depends on the person. The trick is to find the right balance for each of your managers. As a leader, you can help the most by providing structure with men- toring or coaching. 3 REASONS TO OFFER STRUCTURED MENTORSHIP TO ENGINEERING MANAGERS Introducing a structured mentoring program has the potential to create the biggest impact on engineering managers, but its benefits extend beyond them to their o why is this so common, and what can you do about it? For engineers, everything needs to be cleanly structured. There's a process; you know which results to expect; things are documented and clear. There's a direct relationship between input and output: you know how much and which type of work it takes to achieve specific results. Want to improve a certain feature or have an inefficien- cy? You have a scientific, methodical approach to im- proving it. This is the environment engineers have be- come accustomed to, and this world is structured and somehow predictable. STRADDLING TWO WORLDS: THE CHALLENGE OF ENGINEER MANAGERS When you become a people manager, you cross over into a completely different sphere. In contrast to the structured, predictable world of engineering, people (and their feelings) are messy and unpredictable — and more data won't always help you solve the problem. In order to be a good engineering manager, you must learn to navigate and bridge both worlds — the technical, structured, predictable world of engineering and the unstructured, messy, unpredictable world of people. Management, as we know, requires an entirely differ- ent set of skills. It's not a given that great engineers have S We've all observed a situation like this: You have a promising engineer on your team who thrives as an individual contributor. But when they get promoted to a "people" manager, they lose confidence, have a hard time making the transition from individual contributor, and struggle to lead the team effectively. It happens in all disciplines, but when it happens in engineering, it can be detrimental to the success of your company. DEVELOPER RESOURCES Framework By Q. Hoang HOW GOOD ENGINEERING MANAGERS BECOME GREAT ENGINEERING LEADERS SOFTWAREEXECUTIVEMAG.COM DECEMBER 2017 34

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