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The Manager's Path: A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change Paperback – April 11, 2017
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From the Publisher
How to Read This Book
This book is separated into chapters that cover increasing levels of management complexity. The first chapter describes the basics of how to be managed, and what to expect from a manager. The next two chapters cover mentoring and being a tech lead, which are both critical steps on the management path. For the experienced manager, these chapters have some notes on how you might approach managing people in these roles. The following four chapters talk about people management, team management, management of multiple teams, and managing managers. The last chapter on the management path, Chapter 8, is all about senior leadership.
For the beginning manager, it may be enough to read the first three or four chapters for now and skim the rest, returning when you start to face those challenges. For the experienced manager, you may prefer to focus on the chapters around the level that you’re currently struggling with. Interspersed throughout are sections with three recurring themes:
Ask the CTO
These are brief interludes to discuss a specific issue that tends to come up at each of the various levels.
Good Manager, Bad Manager
These sections cover common dysfunctions of engineering managers, and provide some strategies for identifying these bad habits and overcoming them. Each section is placed in the chapter/level that is most likely to correspond to the dysfunction, but these dysfunctions are often seen at every level of experience.
Starting in Chapter 4, I take some time to discuss challenging situations that might come up. Again, while these are roughly placed with the level that is most appropriate, you may find useful information in them regardless of your current level.
Chapter 9 is a bit of a wildcard, aimed at those trying to set up, change, or improve the culture of their team. While it was written from a perspective of a startup leader, I think that much of it will apply to those coming into new companies or running teams that need an uplift in their culture and processes.
More than an inspirational leadership book for a general-purpose audience, I wanted to write something worthy of the O’Reilly imprint, something you can refer back to over time in the same way you might refer to Programming Perl. Think of this book as a reference manual for engineering managers, a book focused on practical tips that I hope will be useful to you throughout your management career.
About the Author
Camille Fournier is an experienced leader with the unique combination of deep technical expertise, executive leadership, and engineering management.
- Item Weight : 13.1 ounces
- Paperback : 244 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1491973897
- ISBN-13 : 978-1491973899
- Product Dimensions : 6 x 0.6 x 8.9 inches
- Publisher : O'Reilly Media; 1st Edition (April 11, 2017)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #8,565 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Previous contenders have included Peopleware, High-Output Management, The Mythical Man-Month, Good To Great, and others you've probably heard of. They are fine books, but they are either somewhat out of date, overly general, or a combination of both. This book is different. Fournier's book is a comprehensive overview of all the roles on the career path of modern technical management (starting from "senior engineer mentoring an intern" all the way up to CTO) and how to deal with the challenges at every step of the way.
What sets this book apart, other than being comprehensive, is that it is the product of direct and highly relevant experience. Fournier has worked at huge companies, small startups, and medium-sized companies, all in hyper-competitive industry settings. You've probably read other management books and it always goes like this: they give you a piece of general advice about how to deal with an issue. You try it (assuming it is even specific enough to put into action and isn't just a feel-good HR platitude), you run into a snag, and now the advice is useless because the rosy assurances in the book about how employees were going to act reasonably didn't really work. You throw the book away and think there is something wrong with you because everyone keeps on talking about how the book is great and it's just your fault that you couldn't make this great advice work.
Fournier's advice is not like that.
She starts with the general outlines of the strategy, but then tells you about times when she had to confront the issue herself, how she tried to apply the strategy and screwed up (there are instances in the book where she openly admits "The first time I tried this I fell flat on my face"), what kinds of problems kept the strategy from working, how she modified the strategy and overcame the problems, and finally and most importantly, wraps up with a summary about how context and trade-offs affect how you apply the advice. Acknowledging and explaining how common variations and implementation details determine how a general strategy will play out is what makes this book unusually useful and relevant.
Because everyone's job and situation are a little bit different, Fournier does an excellent job of breaking down broad strategies into their core principles, while separating out which details you can change based on individual situations, so that you can choose between trade-offs when you apply the strategy to the specific challenge you are confronting.
Lastly, this book will give you confidence. Confidence that you're not alone, that others have faced the same problems and surmounted them, that you can do it too. Confidence that you can screw something up but still pick up the pieces and try again, that you'll still get it right the second or third time, and that you are going to get to where you want to go.
This book is the product of years of tough lessons and hard-won success. Buy it. You won't regret it.
Camille provides a great, unvarnished and hands-on tour of her own career from an engineer to a tech lead, to manager (lead and manager are often confused and conflated, but are very different roles), to manager of managers (a MoM :)), to executive leader responsible for aligning product and technical execution. As you would expect, the story is a rollercoaster with many wins and just as many setbacks and lessons along the way. The good news is, we can all learn from Camille's experience without repeating all (or some, at least) the same mistakes.
The strength of this book is that it takes you all the way from engineer to CTO, with hands-on illustrations in major role and expectation (both the good and the bad) shifts along the way: we all know that Director or VP that clings on to writing code at a detriment to their team; a TL that hordes decision making; a MoM that lost touch with technical foundation of the product; etc. This book will help you avoid these traps, both in your own career and on your team.
In short, a modern hands-on manual for both the aspiring and existing technical leaders, and a sound time investment — read it.
While a junior engineer might not get this book, this book is for the mid level engineer all the way to the CTO.
I'm an engineer turned tech lead, and the chapter I'm reading right now is titled "Tech Lead". So far in the book, there's been at least once sentence per page I've underlined and just stared at and thought about. I've read a _lot_ of management books and Individual Contributor Turned Manager books, but this is the first time I feel like someone is writing directly for me.
Don't be worried that this paperback appears thin when you receive it -- it's full of outlines, examples, and actionable advice to help you digest what's going on in the team around you, and begin making some positive recommendations. Written conversationally with each chapter divided into short sections, it's easy to pick up, put down, and come back to when you have time. One of my favorite features about this book: every chapter ends with a page or so of targeted questions based on that chapter's content to help you think critically about your own role.
Top reviews from other countries
It focuses very specifically on the challenges of combining technical focus with leadership and/ or management, and steps through roles from hands-on development, through mentoring, tech lead and various levels of engineering manager all the way up to CTO. Along the way, it gives a realistic and well-thought-out sense of what these roles are (and are not), how they differ from lower roles and from subtly different roles at a similar level, and how to succeed at them.
The most interesting thing I took from it though was that the understanding you can gain about the hierarchy of technical leadership roles is useful at all levels, including what we would call "individual contributor" roles (i.e. doing technical work with no direct reports). Engineers at a relatively early stage in their careers can benefit from the first few chapters, which cover what to expect from your own manager, how to start mentoring and how to consider whether long-term you are more interested in management or technical tracks. Equally, having done some low-level management over the last couple of years and now seeking to return to more of a senior technical/ architecture role, I still found the later chapters (about senior tech management roles) fascinating, because I know that even if I never take on those exact roles, understanding the responsibilities and thought processes of those who have them will make me much more effective in working with them and advancing my own ideas.
It is a map of non engineering career moves in an engineering career.
It moves through many stages, however uncomfortable, an engineer may find themselves in. How to seek out more responsibility, how to just quietly test the water, or jump head first into a more senior role.
Too many engineers seem to move in senior positions now that simply haven't put the time in to understand the nuances of business, of people, and of social interaction on all levels. Just because you're an amazing python programmer shouldn't be a promotion to looking after the team.
All management should make their engineers read this who aspire to lead, no matter if in projects or with people.
The way it was written was also very inclusive and engaging.
If you are a new technical manager or an old hand I think there is something for you here.