Looking for books, articles, and advice on managing software engineers
September 6, 2016 9:47 AM   Subscribe

Yaaaay! I just got a new job managing a team of software engineers! Looking for books, articles, and advice on how to be most effective in my new role. I'm particularly interested in the "people skills" side of the job.

I've been in the industry for about 13 years. In that time, I've been a developer, a technical lead, and a manager. Although I've managed teams before, they were small teams, and I was still spending about 85% of my time doing hands-on development work. At my new role, I'll only be spending about 40% of my time doing hands-on development work, and about 60% of my time doing "people managing" work.

In my career, I've learned a lot about how to manage a team, but it's mostly been from trial and error. I would like to learn some management "best practices", if there are any, with an emphasis on "people skills". I wish I could be more specific than that. Basically, I'm interested in learning the subtleties of how to behave and communicate most effectively in my new role. Things like : how best to communicate with developers and upper management, how to help people stay motivated, how to create an environment where developers feel comfortable and appreciated, how to guide meetings and technical discussions, how to set goals and expectations for my team, how best to interact with product managers and project managers, and just how to conduct myself in general.

I have about a week until I start my new job. If you would recommend one book, what would it be? Likewise, are there any articles you would recommend? Or do you have any advice to offer from your own experience? Any help at all is appreciated. I'm super super excited about my new job, and I want to be the best manager I can possibly be.
posted by when it rains it snows to Work & Money (8 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Congrats. My two favorite books on tech management are Slack and Peopleware. They ground the philosophy of how I manage. From there, I really focus on how can I talk to this person in a real and authentic way that shows that they are heard and I care about their success?
posted by advicepig at 10:20 AM on September 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

So this one is so basic to the industry I'm a little embarrassed to bring it up, because I'm sure you've probably heard of it. But maybe some other people reading this thread haven't and it is a sort of foundational text. "The Mythical Man Month."
posted by seasparrow at 10:38 AM on September 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

Another classic is Gerald Weinberg's The Psychology of Computer Programming. Weinberg based it on work he did during the punch-card and paper-tape era, but the insights into what programmers want and how to manage them are still valuable, and there is plenty of humor. Some of his stories, like the one about a programmer claiming his product may have been completely broken, but it performed much better than the one that worked, and the one about the group of programmers who were all late, but were afraid to mention it, will never be obsolete.
posted by ubiquity at 10:52 AM on September 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

+1 for Peopleware. I also like Rands and his book Managing Humans. Scott Berkun's Making Things Happen is more process oriented to managing projects, but it also has some good stuff about human interaction.
posted by crocomancer at 12:09 PM on September 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

Nthing Rands and Scott Berkun.
posted by infinitewindow at 12:24 PM on September 6, 2016

Not software specific, but I've found the Manager Tools podcast to be invaluable for this kind of thing. Much of their audience is in the tech industry I believe.
posted by peacheater at 1:19 PM on September 6, 2016

Manager Tools started for tech industry, as peacheater says. They provide detailed instructions on the people side of management. Start with the "trinity" (one-on-ones, feedback, and coaching, if I remember right).
posted by Frenchy67 at 6:14 PM on September 6, 2016

It hasn't been updated much recently, but Joel on Software has a lot of good articles on the software industry. The main page has a list of the most popular articles.

The Harvard Business Review has a lot of good articles on managing people in general. One that was recommended to me and that I found very helpful was "Who's got the Monkey". It talks about the importance of delegation, and how easy it is to accidentally assume responsibility for the work of the people you are managing.
posted by nalyd at 7:03 PM on September 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

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