When you start as an engineering manager, you need to be quick on your feet. A ton of new and terrifying things get thrown at you. And everyone is looking at you. I was at that place when I started as an Engineering manager 1.5 years ago. In this blog post, I will share the 3 books for new engineering managers that I wish I had read when I started (and not months later).

The Making Of A Manager – Julie Zhou

The making of a manager review

In The Making of a Manager, Julie shares her transition from a designer at Facebook, to being a manager. She starts from a point where she was promoted with no management experience, to gain all that experience. And takes you along on that journey.

Great managers are made, not born

Julie Zhou

The philosophy of Julie is that great managers are made, not born. Being an engineering manager involves a subset of specific skills, mindsets, and attitudes that are almost impossible to have when you start. The upside? This means you can be made a great manager as well!

The thing I like the most about the making of a manager is the fact that Julie writes from her point of view as a freshly promoted manager. In most management books, you read from the perspective of a big CEO which I cannot relate to. But Julie writes about the struggles I’m currently having, making this one of the best books for new engineering managers.

Interested in a more in-depth review? Read my full review of The Making Of A Manager

Engineering Management For The Rest Of Us – Sarah Drasner

This book isn’t for the “born leaders”.This book is for the rest of us.

Sarah Drasner

Similar to the first book Sarah states that there are a lot of things she wished someone told her when she started. And Sarah is absolutely someone you want to listen to! She is currently a Director of Engineering at Google and has been at Netlify, Microsoft, and Zillow before that.

While the book has some great chapters on your team, feedback, and collaboration there is one thing that stood out to me that other books don’t have. Sarah also focuses on you as the manager, and maybe more important as a person. I can recommend all new engineering managers to read the chapters on setting boundaries, filling your cup, and believing in yourself.

You can get a free chapter at engmanagement.dev

The Manager’s Path – Camille Fournier

The Manager’s Path is a blueprint for any role in engineering management and above. It will give you a very clear picture of all roles, and how to get the most out of that role. It goes from Engineering Manager to VP of Engineering or CTO. Going from managing teams to managing managers.

“Regular 1-1s are like oil changes; if you skip them, plan to get stranded on the side of the highway at the worst possible time.”

Marc Hedlund

Besides the clear blueprint for all management roles, several chapters are dedicated to the core management tasks. After reading this book you have a good idea of how you can run meetings like 1:1’s, performance feedback, and having to let someone go.

The Manager’s Path is a great book for new engineering managers as well as more experienced engineering managers who aim to become a VP or CTO themselves.

Conclusion: 3 books for New Engineering Managers

All these 3 books for new engineering managers have one thing in common. They are riddled with notes, and post-its, and specific chapters are re-read when needed.

I hope you will learn as much as I did from these 3 books for new engineering managers. Do you have any other books that are a must-read? I’d love to hear from you!

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