Good Engineering Managers are Hard to Find – Like a Bigfoot
Good engineering managers are practically impossible to find. The implicit aim of most functions in a company is to get further up the hierarchy. However, good engineers don’t want to move up. This means that the people who want the engineering manager role are unlikely to be very good at it; becoming an engineering manager means that you now work for your engineers — not the other way around.
There are a lot of managers…. particularly in big organizations, who become managers for the wrong reasons. They tend to be weaker technically, and have a condescending way of referring to the engineers they “manage.”
Within the other group of the rest of the engineers hides a breed of engineers that has the potential to be great engineering managers. They tend to be very technically competent. They exert their leadership almost unconsciously through code, through conversations, and by helping others in the team. More than managers, they’re leaders.
They have very little motivation to want to move up in an organization. Taking on the role of a manager means giving up time doing what they love — solving challenging technical problems — in exchange for what they see as taking out the trash every night.
Juan Pablo Dellarroquelle is the vice president of engineering at Medallia.