Kevin Plattret
Engineering Management for the Rest of Us, by Sarah Drasner

Engineering Management for the Rest of Us

Sarah Drasner

I've been in my software engineering manager role for a couple of years only, yet it feels like it's been much, much longer than that. Part of the job I learned from my peers, part of it from books I read over the years, but most of the time I improvised as I went, inspired by former managers I admire the most and guided by my very own idea of what good management looks like.

Of course I got some bits wrong along the way, while others went surprisingly well. So many challenges and learnings that helped me grow a tonne in that seemingly short period of time. I think it is in the nature of this type of role, to be tricky to learn from others, ahead of time and out of context, because it largely depends on the environment you work in and the team you work with, the mission you work on, your personality and many other things in between.

Having said that, feeling well prepared and equipped to become a manager will go a long way, and Sarah Drasner proves to be an outstanding guide for this sinuous journey. In Engineering Management for the Rest of Us, she gives us a plethora of stories, through which she explores challenges and outlines processes that have worked time and again for her and her teams. She invites us to self-reflect on how we want to lead and support our team(s), in a healthy and sustainable fashion, while keeping our sanity. She does so with a lot of openness and humility.

The first part of building healthy teams is admitting you won't know everything, and this may be a time where you need to listen more than you talk.

ā€” Sarah Drasner, Engineering Management for the Rest of Us

It took me an incredibly long time to finish this book. I read it slowly but with great attention, took lots of notes and pondered over it, went back and forth, reread specific sections when they were particularly relevant to me. All in all, this work is packed with tangible advice and tools to manage software engineering teams in this day and age. It's the book I wish I had read before jumping into the role; the one I'd recommend to anyone considering this career move. You can never be prepared enough for managing and leading people, but if you give it a good try, you'll be one step ahead of yourself. In Sarah's own words, "we owe our teams thoughtful leadership".

I'll never be done learning and growing, as well as helping others grow. That is a very humbling thought, and an exciting one too.