Skip to main content

So you want to be the boss?


Nowadays a lot of people feel like they need to move up in order to claim “growth” in their professional life.  Once they master something they think that the next natural thing is having a few folks “underneath them”

I think at the core of this is a failure in American corporate culture. The fact that you are a director actually does not mean that you are smarter than all of the people who report to you.  In the position of a director you are concentrating on different things.

If you are a good engineer you should actually continue being an engineer because if you become a director you are probably not going to engineer anything.  If you are a director that still writes code you are probably missing some other important responsibilities.

What are the issues you are going to deal with as a director?
1) recruiting and talent retention
2) defending your team from external interruptions
3) being an external and internal champion for your project
4) dealing with under performers
5) stroking peoples egos
6) conflict resolution
I am not suggesting that as a director you should be completely oblivious to the details of how things are done, but most of your time is actually spent selling and using other “soft skills.”  You are selling the opportunity to candidates, selling the fruits of your team’s labor to your sales/marketing team and so on.  If you are an engineer and dealing with dense people irritates you, or you take rejection personally, or if you like getting deep into technical problems – you are probably not going to be happy being “the boss.”

How do we keep engineers happy at engineering so they don’t desire to be promoted to the maximum level of incompetency?   Simple – recognize that products are really their creation.  For example a couple of guys on my team just shipped a product.  I made sure that they were the ones who were mentioned in the internal announcement – not “the team,” not “my team,” but Dave and Mike.

-mb

PS: I picked engineers here because I am familiar with this topic, but the same thing goes for marketers, sales people, artists and all other individual superstars.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Quality of Code is Quality of Life

About 20 years ago when I started working in technology companies I remember “the best” engineers had similar patterns:
-They worked crazy hours
-They knew the systems no one else knew
-They could react and deliver something faster than anyone else
You could always hear other employees say: “Bob is really smart, no one knows how to get anything done in system X besides him!”

This reinforced optimization around being the only person who knew how to do something in some part of the code.  That in turn reinforced job security and bargaining for those engineers, but also chained them to a particular system.  We had big code bases of C++ or Java code where some “Bob” hacked up features as soon as he possibly could.  “Bob” would have occasional nuclear disasters where he’d sleep in the office or through the weekend and then everyone would thank him for how he “saved the day.”  “Bob” sacrificed his quality of life to get praise when he hacked stuff up quickly and then the second time when n…

SDET / QA Engineer Interview Checklist

After interviewing and hiring hundreds of engineers over the past 12+  years I have come up with a few checklists.  I wanted to share one of those with you so you could conduct comprehensive interviews of QA Engineers for your team.

I use this checklist when I review incoming resumes and during the interview.  It keeps me from missing areas that ensure a good team and technology fit.  I hope you make good use of them.  If you think there are good questions or topics that I have missed - get in touch with me!


SDE/T or QA Engineer interview checklist from Mike Borozdin
If you like this checklist you might want to check out these posts:
Emotional Intelligence in Software Teams  and Good-bye manual tester, hello crowdsourcing!

Code versus Configuration

At Ethos we are building a distributed mortgage origination system and in mortgage there is a lot of
different user types with processes that vary depending on geography.  One of our ongoing discussions is about how much of the logic resides in code vs. being in a workflow system or configuration.  After researching this topic for a bit, I have arrived at a conclusion that the logic should live outside of code very infrequently, which might come as a surprise to a lot of enterprise software engineers.

Costs of configuration files and workflow engines First thing that I assume is true is that having any logic outside of the code has costs associated with it.  Debugging highly configurable system involves not only getting the appropriate branch from source control, you also need to make sure that the right configuration values or the database.  In most cases this is harder for programmers to deal with.  In many FinTech companies where the production data is not made readily accessible…