This is the beginning of a series of articles from the retired The Dev Manager website. It was called The Dev Manager Crash Course.
Welcome to the New Dev Manager Crash Course! Whether this is your first time managing a group of developers, or you’ve run the gamut a few times, I’m happy you’re here. My goal is to give you some useful tips and direction from my experience managing multiple development teams. I learned a lot of this the hard way, but hopefully you won’t have to!
Ok let’s get started. How’s your library?
Three Books How Fast?
To read 3 books in a quarter can take some dedication. Yup, that’s 1 book a month, but I know you can do it. This is an investment in you, your career, your management and your life. This is where we start.
Each of these books has made a profound impact on the way I manage my teams and develop my career. Get your Kindle or iPad out, go to the Library, or keep your local UPS delivery team in business with a physical book delivery: its time to build your management library!
What can a Navy SEAL teach you about managing developers? Turns out a whole hell of a lot. In the book Extreme Ownership: How US Navy SEALs Lead and Win, 2 former SEALs share stories from their time in Ramadi, Iraq. When they returned home and retired from active service, they formed a consultancy based on leadership lessons they picked up during their tours.
Why this book? The juxtaposition of military and business made for an interesting read. As you can probably tell from the title, this book focuses a lot on personal ownership. Good leaders forward praise and absorb blame. The only meaningful measure of a leader is whether the team succeeds or fails. Beyond this, they stress the need for you to respectfully question direction if you don’t get it. Analyze the mission to understand the reason, then it’s easier to buy in. If you don’t believe, you won’t take risks to overcome.
Get the book: Extreme Ownership: How US Navy SEALs Lead and Win
Netscape, Symantec, Borland, and Apple. These are just some of the companies where Michael Lopp managed developers, programmers and technical engineers. Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager is quite an entertaining look back at the lessons Lopp learned over his career.
Why this book? Two words: humorous and directness. While the tales he tells are humorous, the meat of the lesson is very simple and direct. From Meeting Creatures (caricatures of people in every meeting, what they want, why and how to handle them) to how to plant seeds for change and growth (The Soak) and an analysis of most software engineer’s most dreaded word (offshoring), I wasn’t able to put this book down. Oh, also, it’s under 200 pages.
Get the book: Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager
Lopp strikes again. In Being Geek: The Software Developer’s Career Handbook he talks through your entire career path as a developer. From when you first joined the team, becoming a senior dev, the manager you are now, and when it’s time to move on.
Why this book? I have asked myself many times “what do I need to learn from this - or is it time to leave?” After many challenges where I learned a considerable amount, I finally left one of my toughest management gigs. This book helped me understand how to measure whether it really is time to leave, or if you’re just stressed out.
Get the book: Being Geek: The Software Developer’s Career Handbook
Now, stop reading all your spammy emails like this one and get out one of these books! A quote from Margaret Fuller (or maybe it was W. Fusselman?) sums up today’s lesson:
“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.”