Becoming an engineering manager

The following is a README I give to all of my new managers. Think of it like a step-by-step guide to the broader 90-day plan you would offer your manager when you start in a new role.


Your first few months as a manager here at Indigo are crucial to your success, and we’re here to support you!

This new manager issue is a launchpad, and it connects you with crucial information about being a manager at Indigo. It has been designed to ensure you start your journey as a manager with all the resources and training available.

Items on this issue are identified as either required (in bold) or optional (in italics). Optional items may not be applicable to your style or team dynamic. Experiment with them for a few days or weeks. If you discover a useful practice or resources outside of this list, please feel free to leave a comment or edit this file.

Your First Week

  • Schedule a handover meeting with the current team manager. Items covered should include recent feedback, projects, individual goals, and any shared documents or performance reviews most recently given.
  • Schedule 1:1 meetings with team members (Template) (First 1-1 Questions)
  • Update your team and organization wiki pages to reflect the new reporting structure
  • Request access to any team chat channels you should be in
  • Create a README of how you work
  • Read Transitioning to management as a Technical Lead Manager

Your First Month

  • Focus on 1-1s: ask questions, build rapport, and discuss career development plans with each direct report (Questions Reference)
  • Review your hiring process
  • Define or review measurable goals for your management role with your manager in a 1-1
  • Modify this document to incorporate learnings you’ve had as a new engineering manager
  • The Effective Manager by Mark Horstman (and the accompanying Manager Tools podcast)
  • Resilient Management by Lara Hogan
  • High Output Management by Andy Grove
  • The 27 Challenges Managers Face by Bruce Tulgan (particularly for conflict resolution)
  • Accelerate by Nicole Forsgren, Jez Humble, and Gene Kim
  • An Elegant Puzzle by Will Larson
  • Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink (and his Jocko Podcast)
  • The Making of a Manager by Julie Zhuo
  • The Manager’s Path by Camille Fournier
  • The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle

Days 31-60

Days 61-90

  • Begin incorporating coaching & delegation into your 1-1s (podcast on coaching & delegation)
  • Work with your manager on decision-making techniques to effectively delegate work and get more out of your direct reports (Template)

3 Months and Beyond

  • For Technical Lead or Interim Managers: Decide with your manager if you want to continue down technical leadership (e.g. Staff engineer, Principal engineer) or transition to professional leadership (e.g. Engineering Manager)
  • Walk through your first quarterly goal setting for your directs with your manager (Template)
  • Learn about the performance review process at your company in your manager 1-1

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