My current role is a mixture of engineering manager and senior engineer. Since it was my first foray into engineering management I was nervous. If you make a mistake as a software engineer, generally, the consequences aren’t significant. Perhaps some users are affected, perhaps the company loses some money. If you do a poor job as a manager it affects people directly. Who hasn’t heard a tale of someone who had a manager who made their life miserable? This was sufficient motivation for me to do a good job. I didn’t want to be one of those managers.


There are many books you could read about management. The three below were recommended by colleagues. They gave me the confidence to go into the role feeling somewhat prepared.

The Manager’s Path: A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change by Camille Fournier.

This book is great for new engineering managers. It’s a succinct overview of the skills required to be a manager. It covers topics like 1:1s, feedback, mentoring, communication styles and managing teams. The last few chapters cover the path after software engineering manager. Managing multiple teams, managing managers and beyond. This is useful, if like me, you have zero experience of this.

Become an Effective Software Engineering Manager by James Stanier

For me this book is essential reading for new software engineering managers or anyone considering going down the management path. Sometimes a book just clicks. The reader and the author are on the same wavelength. This was my experience.

While it’s impossible to cover every subject a software engineering manager needs to know, this book is pretty comprehensive. It’s a book I will refer to a lot in the future. Some of the topics include organising yourself, communication, 1:1s, motivation, performance reviews, hiring, coaching, project management, politics and career progression.

The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier

As a beginner in the skill of coaching I found this book really useful. It’s very succinct, only taking a few hours to read. Those few hours provide a simple framework for having a useful conversation with somebody. Useful to them, that is, not yourself. Even if you aren’t a manager and coaching isn’t something that is expected of you, this book is still worth reading. I found the advice applicable to many situations inside and outside of work. Tame your Advise Monster :-)

Other resources

Here are a few more resources which have helped me transition to engineering manager. The books above gave me an overview of the role. I dug more into areas which I thought would be particularly important when building relationships with engineers.

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