Book – Engineering Management for the Rest of Us

Rating: 4,5/5
Would recommend: yes
Would read again: yes

Review and takeaway

After reading this book, I reminded myself to be more open, be more human. I was often acting like a machine in the last month, doing good work, but missing the human part, the important part of working.

It also reminded me to say No more often, to trust others.

It's also a good reminder how important communication is, to build trust, to document.

I can recommend this book for everyone thinking about changing to management, but also for everybody else working as a developer or with developers, or really anyone working in a team.

Summary and remarks

Values – individual, company, and team values.

  • Clarity is key
  • Understand each other
  • Set boundaries

Remark: As a freelancer, I have worked with lots of companies. Companies communicating their values, and practicing them, are a joy to work with.

Trust and vulnerability.

  • Trust takes time
  • Trust is crucial.

Remark: If I can't trust my team colleagues, it makes working with them very hard.

Your team is not them, your team is we.

  • Boost morale
  • Explain reason behind decisions
  • Clarify mistakes

Remark: It's really important to communicate with the team, and be transparent.

Happiness and drive

  • Create space where people feel like they're getting their best work done
  • Provide an environment where flow state can happen

Remark: Everyone works different. If the team provides me the option to work the way I prefer, I will do my best work.

Long-term care of employees

  • Set your team up for success
  • Understand how to delegate
  • Trust is inclusion
  • We all have bias
  • Talk about employee goals

Remark: Having managers who care is fundamental. I worked with fantastic managers, again, the best communicate very well, build trust, and understand the needs of employees.

Career laddering

  • Senior: best you
  • Staff: beyond yourself, teach people
  • Principal: help people where they are

Remark: The further you are into your career, the more it's about helping other people. Care about people in every stage of your career.

1:1s are critical

  • Provide clarity
  • Place to talk freely
  • Come prepared to 1:1s

Remark: In the past, I considered 1:1s as not important. I was wrong there. Once I took the 1:1s seriously, they made a lot of sense, and I look forward to having them.

Communicating as a manager

  • Teach people to fish
  • Address the goals, mission
  • Format things clearly
  • All about transparency

Remark: I have worked with many companies who have no clear mission, this is unsatisfying in the long-term. If you don't know why you do something, it makes no sense.

Change management

  • More to lose by staying still
  • Connect people to the why

Remark: Again, it's all about communicating.

Giving and receiving feedback

  • Ask about feedback preference
  • Give guidance for the future
  • It's necessary, thoughtful, helps them improve at work
  • Praise in public, feedback in private

Remark: I personally started to request feedback, and it really helps me to see where I could do better, what I do well.

Prioritizing your teams work

  • know / communicate what's most important
  • have focus

Objectives and key results (OKR)

  • 70% rule (fine to establish 70%)
  • Look forward and look back
  • Quarterly planning

Remark: Take them seriously, but not too seriously. OKRs should be in line with the overall mission.

Scope down PRs

  • Easier to review
  • Easier to test

Remark: Feature flags, as mentioned in the book, really helps to achieve this. With feature flags, you can do changes / features step by step without risking anything.

Speed of execution

  • Set direction first
  • Assess motivation
  • Assess psychological safety
  • Assess tech stack

Remark: What I learned after many years, preparation is key. Be open to changes, don't fixate on a tech stack, think about users first.

Split time between product and engineering work

  • Technical debt
  • Innovative projects
  • Slow, ongoing work (internal documentation, ...)
  • Migrations (As much research as possible, Clear decision makers, Document, high and low level, Maintenance and ownership)

Remark: Having a lot of technical debts can be frustrating. When doing migrations / refactoring, spend a lot of time with research, documentation to avoid more technical debts.


  • Schedule breaks and focus time
  • Create systems
  • Add accomplished stuff in the to-do list

Remark: For me, it is often hard to prioritize. What helps me is having some tasks I know I can finish in a short amount of time on my daily to-do, along with the more time-consuming tasks. Finishing the less time-consuming tasks shows me I did something.


  • Say no more often
  • Too many meetings
  • Forgive myself

Remark: Saying no is really hard for me, I want to help. But, I need to get better at saying no, as often it's better someone else takes over or something is not done. I am also very strict with myself, I need to accept that I am not perfect (like anybody else) and it's okay to make mistakes.

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