Internal training for new engineering managers


A guide to train new engineering managers

In an informal survey, David Loftesness, Twitter’s former Director of Engineering, found that only one out of every 15 engineering managers received formal management training before becoming a manager. When asked which methods had been most helpful for learning to manage effectively, nearly 75% reported “trial and error,” half cited feedback from direct reports, and 40% said observing peer managers.

While it’s always helpful to set up management training with an outside firm (like me 😁), leaders often don’t have the time or the budget to do so. To help leaders ramp up new managers in their time, I’m sharing the below program from Monica Giambitto, Engineering Manager at Freeletics.

1/ Set up weekly 1:1s workshop-like with the new manager on the following topics:

  • Role and difference from being an IC
  • Glue Work
  • Managing Up/Across + First Team
  • Main Responsibilities
  • People Development
  • Taking Decisions
  • Enabling Team by Giving Clarity (strategy, values)
  • People Management & Development Deep Dive
  • Managing vs Coaching
  • 1:1s & Staff Meetings
  • Delegation
  • Feedback, Performance, Career Plan
  • Hiring & Staffing
  • Performance of the team
  • Metrics & Productivity
  • Mood & Relationships
  • Staffing & Development
  • Management Philosophy & Style
  • Decision-making Frameworks (for prioritisation & risk de-escalation)
  • Taking Care of Your Growth & Well Being

2/ Have the new manager set up 1:1s with new reports so that they alternate with those with the manager

3/ Pair the new manager with another manager (a mentor), so they attend the same meetings & team ceremonies:

  • Before the meetings: spend time with them to review documents & resources, provide insights in decision-making, answer questions they might not be comfortable asking in public.
  • After the meetings or at the end of the day: review the new manager’s behaviour.
  • Help them build the habit of having a journal/notes to reflect.
  • Phase 1: the mentor manager is still in the driving seat
  • Phase 2: the mentor manager stays silent in public; it’s the new manager that speaks. Communication might happen behind the scenes via private chat. The manager actively redirects questions to the new manager.

4/ Provide the new manager with templates and tools for reviews, handoffs, goal settings. Do dry runs with them.

5/ Help them find their pillars & values to give them a compass to make decisions.

6/ Ask questions instead of giving advice immediately (coaching).

7/ Network them in the organisation by putting them in contact with others (draw a map of their connections in the org chart, find gaps).

8/ Select three books, three podcasts, a few articles to start building their library.

9/ Build a map of mentors and people the person can ask help to.

I hope this curriculum will inspire you to do a similar one internally!

To go further

Google’s new manager training

GitLab’s Manager Challenge

This 90-Day Plan Turns Engineers into Remarkable Managers - David Loftesness (via First Round Review)

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