Managing Humans: How a Software Engineering Manager Learned to Laugh and Lead
Download book Managing Humans : Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager by Micha
If you are a manager, or aspire to be one, or just wonder what the heck a manager does all day, you should read this book. Managing Humans is a collection of hilarious stories with serious lessons that Michael Lopp extracts from his varied and sometimes bizarre experiences as a manager at Apple, Pinterest, Palantir, Netscape, Symantec, Slack, and Borland. The book is divided into three sections, each covering a different aspect of managing humans: The Management Quiver, The Process Is the Product, and Versions of You. In this article, we will give you a brief overview of each section and its chapters, as well as some reasons why you should download this book today.
Download book Managing Humans : Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager by Micha
The Management Quiver
The first section of the book covers management skills and techniques that you can use to lead engineers, handle conflict, hire well, motivate employees, manage your boss, and more. Here are some of the chapters in this section:
Dont Be a Prick
This chapter explains how to avoid being a jerk as a manager. Lopp argues that being a prick is not only unethical, but also ineffective. He gives some examples of how being a prick can backfire on you, such as losing trust, respect, loyalty, and talent. He also offers some tips on how to be firm but fair, such as setting clear expectations, giving honest feedback, admitting mistakes, and apologizing when necessary.
Managers Are Not Evil
This chapter deals with the perception that managers are bad people who don't care about their employees or their work. Lopp acknowledges that there are some bad managers out there, but he also points out that there are many good ones who are trying their best to do their job well. He suggests some ways to deal with bad managers, such as communicating openly, finding allies, documenting everything, and escalating issues when needed. He also advises managers to avoid becoming evil themselves by staying connected to their team, listening to feedback, learning from others, and having fun.
How to Run a Meeting
This chapter teaches you how to make meetings productive and efficient. Lopp argues that meetings are necessary evils that can either be useful or wasteful depending on how they are run. He gives some guidelines on how to run a good meeting, such as having a clear agenda, inviting the right people, starting on time, keeping it short, staying on topic, encouraging participation, summarizing action items, and following up. He also warns against some common meeting pitfalls, such as having too many meetings, inviting too many people, having no agenda, having no leader, having no outcome, having no follow-up.
Dissecting the Mandate
This chapter examines how to deal with top-down directives from your boss or your company. Lopp defines a mandate as "a command or instruction that must be obeyed". He argues that mandates are inevitable and sometimes necessary in any organization, but they can also be frustrating and demoralizing for managers and their teams. He suggests some ways to deal with mandates, such as understanding the context, asking for clarification, negotiating the scope, communicating the impact, executing the plan, and measuring the results.
This chapter warns against being left out of the loop as a manager. Lopp claims that information is power and that managers need to have access to relevant and timely information to do their job well. He explains that information starvation can happen for various reasons, such as organizational silos, political games, poor communication, or lack of trust. He advises managers to avoid information starvation by building relationships, asking questions, sharing information, and creating feedback loops.
Subtlety, Subterfuge, and Silence
This chapter teaches you how to use non-verbal cues and silence as management tools. Lopp argues that words are not the only way to communicate and that sometimes actions speak louder than words. He explains that subtlety is the art of conveying a message without saying it explicitly, subterfuge is the act of deceiving or manipulating someone for a purpose, and silence is the absence of sound or speech. He gives some examples of how to use each of these tools effectively, such as using body language, facial expressions, gestures, pauses, eye contact, and tone of voice.
This chapter cautions you against using jargon and buzzwords as a manager. Lopp defines managementese as "a language used by managers that is intended to impress or confuse others". He argues that managementese is not only annoying but also ineffective. He explains that managementese can have negative consequences, such as alienating your audience, obscuring your message, creating confusion, and losing credibility. He advises managers to avoid managementese by using simple and clear language, avoiding acronyms and abbreviations, explaining technical terms, and giving examples.
Youre Not Listening
Fred Hates the Off-Site
This chapter tells you how to run an effective off-site meeting with your team. Lopp defines an off-site as "a meeting that takes place away from the normal work environment". He argues that off-sites are valuable and necessary for teams to bond, brainstorm, and align. He introduces Fred, a fictional engineer who hates off-sites and represents the typical objections and challenges that managers face when planning and running an off-site. He gives some suggestions on how to overcome Fred's resistance and make the off-site a success, such as choosing a good location, setting a clear agenda, inviting the right people, facilitating the discussion, having fun, and following up.
The Process Is the Product
The second section of the book covers how process affects product development. Lopp argues that people who create products often hate process, but they also need it to avoid screw-ups and deliver quality. He explains that process is not a fixed set of rules, but a dynamic and evolving system that adapts to the needs and goals of the project. He also explains that process is not only about what you do, but also how you do it and who you do it with. Here are some of the chapters in this section:
Why Engineers Seem to Hate Process
This chapter explores the mindset of engineers who resist process. Lopp claims that engineers are creative problem-solvers who value autonomy, efficiency, and innovation. He explains that engineers tend to hate process because they see it as a constraint, a waste of time, or a threat to their freedom. He suggests some ways to make process more appealing to engineers, such as involving them in the design, making it simple and flexible, showing them the benefits, and rewarding them for following it.
How to Get Started
This chapter teaches you how to initiate a project with a clear pitch, people, process, and product. Lopp argues that getting started is one of the hardest parts of any project because it involves making many decisions and assumptions with limited information and resources. He explains that getting started requires four elements: a pitch, which is a concise and compelling statement of what you want to do and why; people, which are the roles and responsibilities of those who will work on the project; process, which is the plan and methodology of how you will do it; and product, which is the vision and scope of what you will deliver.
1.0: Pitch, People, Process, and Product
This chapter elaborates on how to define the four elements of a successful project launch: pitch, people, process, and product. Lopp gives some examples of how he used these elements to start various projects at different companies. He also gives some tips on how to refine and communicate these elements effectively, such as using stories, diagrams, prototypes, demos, and feedback.
How to Take Time and Think (Instead of React)
missing opportunities, or damaging relationships. He suggests some ways to think instead of react, such as taking a pause, asking questions, gathering data, evaluating options, and consulting others.
Hacking as a Means of Encouraging Disruption
This chapter encourages you to foster innovation and creativity by allowing hacking time for your team. Lopp defines hacking as "the act of creating something new or different by using existing resources in unconventional ways". He argues that hacking is a valuable and necessary activity for product development because it allows engineers to experiment, learn, and discover new possibilities. He gives some examples of how hacking led to breakthroughs and improvements in various products. He also gives some guidelines on how to enable and support hacking in your team, such as setting aside time, providing resources, defining goals, and celebrating outcomes.
How to Let Ideas "Soak" for Creativity
This chapter explains how to incubate ideas by giving them time and space. Lopp claims that creativity is not a linear process, but a cyclical one that involves alternating periods of focus and distraction. He explains that ideas need to soak in your subconscious mind for a while before they can emerge as fully formed solutions. He gives some examples of how he used soaking to generate creative ideas for his projects. He also gives some tips on how to let ideas soak effectively, such as writing them down, sleeping on them, switching tasks, taking breaks, and exposing yourself to different stimuli.
Managers Are Chaos-Destroying Machines
This chapter explores how to balance order and chaos as a manager. Lopp asserts that managers are chaos-destroying machines who try to create order and structure in their teams and projects. He explains that order is necessary and beneficial for efficiency, quality, and predictability. However, he also warns that too much order can stifle creativity, diversity, and innovation. He advises managers to embrace some chaos in their work environment by allowing uncertainty, ambiguity, and risk. He gives some examples of how he used chaos to create opportunities and advantages for his team.
How to Deal with the Sky Falling (Crises)
analyzing options, making decisions, taking actions, and communicating results.
Versions of You
The third section of the book covers different aspects of people and teams that you need to understand and manage as a manager. Lopp argues that people are complex and diverse, and that managers need to appreciate and leverage their differences and similarities. He explains that people can be categorized into various types based on their skills, personalities, preferences, roles, and behaviors. He also explains that people can change and evolve over time based on their experiences, goals, and feedback. Here are some of the chapters in this section:
Bellwethers for Your Interviewing Process
This chapter teaches you how to identify and leverage the key influencers in your hiring process. Lopp defines a bellwether as "a person who leads or indicates trends". He argues that bellwethers are crucial for attracting and retaining talent in your team or organization. He explains that bellwethers can be internal or external, and that they can have positive or negative effects on your hiring process. He gives some examples of how he used bellwethers to improve his hiring process. He also gives some tips on how to find and use bellwethers effectively, such as asking for referrals, building relationships, soliciting feedback, and rewarding contributions.
How to Detect/Fix Boredom Before Someone Quits
This chapter shows you how to spot and prevent boredom among your team members. Lopp claims that boredom is one of the main reasons why people quit their jobs. He explains that boredom can manifest in various ways, such as lack of motivation, engagement, challenge, or growth. He suggests some ways to detect boredom in your team, such as observing behavior, performance, and attitude, asking questions, listening carefully, and conducting surveys. He also suggests some ways to fix boredom in your team, such as giving feedback, offering opportunities, assigning projects, changing roles, or letting go.
NADD: Nerd Attention Deficiency Disorder
such as setting priorities, limiting distractions, focusing on one thing at a time, and taking breaks.
How to Manage Your First 90 Days at a New Company
This chapter guides you on how to make a good impression and establish yourself in a new role. Lopp admits that he has changed jobs many times in his career and that he has learned some lessons from his successes and failures. He explains that the first 90 days at a new company are critical for your reputation and performance. He gives some steps on how to manage your first 90 days successfully, such as doing your homework, meeting people, learning the culture, setting expectations, delivering results, and asking for feedback.
The Purpose of a "Nerd Cave"
This chapter explains the need for privacy and focus among nerds. Lopp defines a nerd as "a person who is passionate about a specific subject or activity". He argues that nerds need a place where they can work without interruptions or distractions. He calls this place a nerd cave, which is "a physical or virtual space where a nerd can be alone with their thoughts". He gives some examples of how he created and used nerd caves for himself and his team. He also gives some tips on how to respect and support the nerd cave of others, such as knocking before entering, avoiding small talk, giving space, and providing tools.
How to Manage Your Nerds (i.e., Those Who Build)
This chapter tells you how to motivate, empower, and lead your engineers effectively. Lopp claims that engineers are the ones who build the products that make your company successful. He explains that engineers have different needs and wants than other employees. He gives some suggestions on how to manage your nerds well, such as understanding their motivations, giving them autonomy, providing them with challenges, rewarding them with recognition, and protecting them from interference.
The 8 "Creatures" You'll Find in Meetings
This chapter introduces you to eight types of meeting participants that you will encounter in your work. Lopp describes each type with a humorous name and a brief description. He also gives some advice on how to deal with each type effectively. Here are the eight types:
The Dominator: The person who talks too much and tries to control the meeting.
The Naysayer: The person who shoots down every idea and offers no alternatives.
The Rambler: The person who goes off-topic and wastes time with irrelevant stories.
The Quiet One: The person who says nothing and contributes nothing.
The Interrupter: The person who cuts off others and disrupts the flow of the meeting.
The Know-It-All: The person who acts like an expert on everything and corrects others.
The Jester: The person who makes jokes and tries to lighten the mood.
The Leader: The person who sets the agenda, facilitates the discussion, and drives the outcome.
How to Feed and Care for the Highly Productive
This chapter shows you how to nurture and retain your star performers. Lopp defines a highly productive person as "someone who consistently delivers high-quality work in a timely manner". He argues that highly productive people are rare and valuable assets for your team and organization. He explains that highly productive people have different characteristics and needs than average performers. He gives some suggestions on how to feed and care for the highly productive, such as giving them clear goals, challenging them with hard problems, supporting them with resources, trusting them with autonomy, rewarding them with praise, and shielding them from politics.
Incrementalists and Completionists
This chapter explains how to understand and manage different types of engineers based on their approach to tasks. Lopp identifies two types of engineers: incrementalists and completionists. Incrementalists are engineers who prefer to work on small and frequent tasks that can be completed quickly and easily. Completionists are engineers who prefer to work on large and complex tasks that require more time and effort. He gives some examples of how he worked with both types of engineers in his projects. He also gives some tips on how to balance and leverage the strengths and weaknesses of each type.
How to Handle a Re-Organization
This chapter teaches you how to navigate and survive a re-organization. Lopp defines a re-organization as "a change in the structure or hierarchy of an organization". He argues that re-organizations are inevitable and sometimes necessary in any growing or changing organization. He explains that re-organizations can have positive or negative effects on your team and yourself. He gives some steps on how to handle a re-organization successfully, such as understanding the reasons, communicating the changes, adapting to the new situation, resolving conflicts, and seizing opportunities.
Organics and Mechanics
such as understanding their preferences, assigning them appropriate tasks, facilitating their collaboration, and respecting their differences.
How to Manage Levels of Skill and Will
This chapter shows you how to adapt your management style based on the skill and will level of your team members. Lopp uses a matrix to classify team members into four categories based on their skill (high or low) and will (high or low). He argues that each category requires a different type of management style. He gives some examples of how he used different management styles for different categories. He also gives some tips on how to improve the skill and will level of your team members, such as providing training, coaching, feedback, and motivation.
Leadership Flavors: Inwards, Outwards, Holistics
This chapter helps you identify and develop your own leadership style based on your focus and perspective. Lopp describes three types of leadership styles: inwards, outwards, and holistics. Inwards leaders are leaders who focus on themselves and their own development. Outwards leaders are leaders who focus on others and their development. Holistics leaders are leaders who focus on the big picture and the overall vision. He gives some examples of how he used different leadership styles in his work. He also gives some advice on how to balance and integrate the three leadership styles.
How to Structure (and Read) a Resume
This chapter teaches you how to write and review resumes effectively. Lopp argues that resumes are important and useful tools for hiring and job-seeking. He explains that resumes are not only about listing your skills and experiences, but also about telling your story and showing your personality. He gives some guidelines on how to structure and write a good resume, such as using a simple and clear format, highlighting your achievements, customizing your content, proofreading your grammar, and updating your information. He also gives some guidelines on how to read and evaluate a resume, such as looking for keywords, patterns, gaps, red flags, and potential.
The Wolf Engineer
such as giving them challenging problems, trusting them with autonomy, supporting them with resources, r