Transcript from the "Introduction" Lesson
>> To practical engineering management. This is Practical Engineering Management 102. I'm Ryan Burgess, I'm a software engineering manager currently at Netflix. I've been a manager for now I think it's just over ten years now it's gone by pretty quickly. I'm what you would call thrown in as an accidental manager.
[00:00:22] I was at a startup called Evernote. I was a lead front end engineer walked in one day and they're like, you are now managing the team. I didn't hate it, I was definitely up for the challenge. I had been doing a lot of somewhat leadership on the technical side of mentoring and things like that throughout my career at various points.
[00:00:41] I worked at agencies where I was working with clients. So I did really enjoy a lot of the people side of things. So it was I was up for it, I was up excited about the challenge, and I stuck with it. When I joined Netflix, I lead UI engineering team.
[00:00:58] That was called it our Acquisition UI team, which was building a lot of the sign-up flows for iOS, Android, web, and TV. We did a ton of AB testing to optimize, make sure that it was really great user experience. And then most recently, I'm in what we call our Productivity Engineering Org, and that's where I focus on trying to make more centralized tooling and infrastructure to make other engineers across the company more productive.
[00:01:28] So it's really just making their lives easier to ship production, our product code out to what our consumers are now using on Netflix. You can find me on Twitter it is Twitter, just just wanna say that @burgessdyan. I am on LinkedIn at Ryan Burgess. So yes connect with me on either platform.
[00:01:50] I still I'm not on Twitter as much lately but I still go there. I'm also on a podcast, mentioned Jem Young teaching. I'm the practical engineering manager 101, him and I are both on this podcast it's been long running, how many of you have heard of it before show of hands?
[00:02:09] All right, quite a few hands awesome let's get to here, for those of you who haven't listened it's really a casual podcast with a group of panelists. We have guests and regular panelists where we're talking about various technologies, career development. It's not just front end, we've kind of covered a variety of topics and we're continuing to do that.
[00:02:32] So if you haven't checked it out, please do. All right, so hopefully some of you have watched Practical Engineering Management 101. Jem Young, which I've mentioned, he covers that topic really well. He is also at Netflix as a software engineering manager, and he's on Twitter @Jimyoung so follow him there.
[00:02:58] What Jim covered in 101 is really what I like to think about is their very early stages you may not even be a manager it's like really just like thinking about what is management? Do I wanna do that? Is that something that I could see myself doing? And so he does a really good job covering the path to leadership.
[00:03:20] Thinking about it, what does that entail? Why might you wanna do it? And maybe why you might not want to do it. He does a very good job going through that. And then really just understanding the role. What does it mean to be an engineering manager? What are things that you need to think about?
[00:03:37] And then really thinking about interviewing. How do you get that first job? And then you're in that first job, what does that look like? What's that first 30 days? How do you prepare yourself for just diving deep into management? So he really set you up on a path to that early days and in 102, I kind of wanna pick up from there, as like you've been in the role a bit, you've started to get a little bit of footing.
[00:04:02] And so I wanna cover things like, all right, you have a lay of the land you somewhat understand what you're doing, what your team's doing. And so how do you help set your team up for success? So we'll go into that and thinking about ways in which you can help your team out.
[00:04:18] And then we'll go really deep on hiring. Hiring I think is one of the most important things as a manager. You got to build a team. You wanna have a strong team that's able to deliver. That's what you wanna be doing, and you may not hire right away, sometimes you do.
[00:04:34] I like when you do hire early in your career because you're taking over a team, it's like you wanna be able to understand what the makeup of the team is and hire someone. But at some point in time, you will be hiring. I guarantee it, someone will leave the team or your team needs to grow.
[00:04:50] You take on some new initiative. It's gonna happen. Then another point that I wanna cover is partnerships. You need to really think about building strong partnerships with other teams, partners on efforts that you're working on, you are trying to connect a lot of the dots for your team, so building strong partnerships is really important.
[00:05:11] I think one of the most important things when you're managing a team is being able to give feedback. There's lot of different types of feedback and how you're delivering that with your team. But also, how do you receive feedback? I think that's an important aspect, too, is being able to effectively receive feedback and inviting your team to give you feedback is really important.
[00:05:34] And then we'll dive into change management and what that's like. I think that's one thing that I personally didn't feel like I was prepared for before diving into management and so I'm kind of hoping that we can give some insights into that. So who's this course for? I don't think it's just for engineering managers.
[00:05:55] I see this as a course for an engineer who just wants to have more insights into what management is doing, there's a lot of valuable skills like giving feedback, I hope you're giving feedback to your peers or your manager. There's a lot great tips and that's what I wanna cover.
[00:06:11] It could be like I said, an engineer thinking about management that should help them. It could be for tech leads and of course the engineering manager. So my goals here for the course is I wanna try and help provide some strategies for navigating challenging situations, help prepare for things that you may have not thought about.
[00:06:35] And equip you with effective tools and things to just make your life a little bit easier as a manager. And then I'll share some valuable perspectives on my thoughts on management. We'll cover some scenarios where how I might approach it. I'm gonna call on Jem for his perspectives as well.
[00:06:56] And throughout the course, I don't wanna stand up here and talk all day, so we're gonna do various things to try and give you more different perspectives on management. So we'll have some exercises and we'll cover some things in an exercise. But also go through some scenarios which I had mentioned, like maybe it's how to give feedback and this is where I'll rely on Jem.
[00:07:16] Him and I will go doing some back and forth and go through some conversations. So you're getting some insights into what some of those conversations might actually look like. And then I will have another part where I will call on ask a manager. I'll definitely be leaning on Jem.
[00:07:33] But I'm also leaning on you all in the audience. I wanna hear your thoughts. I think it's really important to lean on others as a manager, there's no right way to do something. There's wrong ways. But there are definitely ways in which you wanna get other people's perspectives.
[00:07:50] And I often do this where, hey, I'm dealing with the situation, how have you thought about that? How would you approach the situation? And so I think that's really valuable as a manager to think about that. You can definitely read books and gain a lot of insights that way, but sometimes it's also just asking your peers and getting insights.
[00:08:09] So that's what I wanna try and leverage in this course. All right, before we go into setting your team up for success, I wanna set why management is difficult. I mean, it's very rewarding. It's exciting, I enjoy it. I love the challenges, but it's a lot different compared to being a software engineer and it's a lot less tangible.
[00:08:33] And so even teaching a course on it, it's not like I can give you an exercise like code this thing and you can see if it works or it doesn't. Like I said, it's not as tangible. Every situation is different. I've dealt with many times where even hiring someone or giving someone feedback even for the same exact thing, it's so unique and different every time.
[00:08:57] There's always some sort of nuance, and so that is very different from even software engineering. I know there's nuances, but with management it's a lot different that way. It requires many skills, oftentimes people will say you wear many hats, it's true. There's times where you are a recruiter, you're looking for someone to join the team there's times where you're a project management.
[00:09:23] You're leading a project or maybe you're even playing the role of product manager where you're trying to think about the strategy of a project or a product and what your team should be focused on. Maybe you're even a therapist, listen to someone, vent about a problem that they're having or helping coach someone.
[00:09:42] There's just a lot of different hats that you wear as a manager. And those hats aren't given to you for a week long or a day long thing, it could happen every other hour. You are constantly context switching, which can be difficult. It's not the same as being heads down coding something.
[00:10:02] You are context switching a lot more as a manager. You also need to be adaptable, flexible. There's a lot of things that are changing. There might be new technologies that your team needs to adapt. Maybe there's new challenges, maybe the business is changing. Maybe you have to like completely pivot on some priorities.
[00:10:25] If you need to be flexible and be able to help your team deal with those changes. You're also dealing with people, right, we're not dealing with code, we're dealing with people. So there's definitely interpersonal challenges that come along with that. I personally love that part of it. I think that's what probably brings me the most joy as being a manager is dealing with people.
[00:10:49] And it's different, it's definitely a challenge each and every time, Mark.
>> From the developer's side, management work seemed very easy, but after going through Jem's 101 course, I've changed my perspective.
>> That is a really good insight. I'm glad that they took that away too because Jem and I've joked about that times too.
[00:11:11] As Jem actually reported to me for a while before moving into management. And he so jokingly, nicely, put it he's like, he didn't know what I did. And it's true, it's like does he really do anything as a manager? And it's like, he's in meetings. I talk to him on a one-on-one.
[00:11:31] Maybe see him leading a project or something, but what does a manager do? And it's hard to really know that. And so I'm actually really happy that that was a takeaway in the 101 course. It's given you a little more insights into that. It often requires experience, and I don't want this to shy someone away as that you need to have experience as a manager, to be a manager, because clearly in Jem's course on 101, we talk about how do you actually become a manager?
[00:12:03] And so Jem even talked about speaking to some of the experiences that you have as an engineer or life experiences. It requires pulling from those experiences. And even as a manager, I'm constantly gaining more experiences over my ten years that I am constantly leveraging. So that's what I really mean by experience is it definitely helps you.
[00:12:24] It could be maybe as an engineer, you're leading a project. Maybe you're helping with interviews, that's experience and that is helpful. I hope you're giving feedback to people, that's experience. And you learn all these things and it definitely helps you as a manager. It's hard to measure, like I said, Gem didn't know what I did.
[00:12:44] He's like, what is he doing? And it's true, it's when I think of myself as an engineer, I might work on a feature. I ship it, hopefully there was no bugs. People are happy with it, they're using it. You can even get nice data on how it's performing, how quick it's loading, or how many people are using it.
[00:13:05] That's awesome. There's a lot more tangible metrics on that. As a manager, there's days, I don't even know what I did. I'm like, cool, my team shipped that. I'm excited for them. What did I do? I know I helped in some way, but it's hard, it's not as tangible.
[00:13:18] So hopefully I didn't scare you away. All these challenges, they're hard but they're good, I love them. And that's why I've continually been a manager.