Becoming an Engineering Manager: Manage a Team

Becoming an Engineering Manager: Manage a Team

In our second article on Agile Management Philosophy, we outlined three evaluation criteria:

  • Manage Yourself
  • Manage Your Client
  • Manage Your Team

With personal and client responsibilities mastered, you are now ready to manage a team of developers. This brings an entire new set of skills that you will learn over time. Let’s get to it! 

The weekly agenda for this step is the following:

  • Review and introspection on previous week
  • Pillar #3: Transparency
  • Best Practices in Team Management
  • Emotional IQ: The Team
  • Role Playing

Best Practices

Weekly Activities

As a manager, it is now your responsibility to set the direction and goals for your team on a week-to-week basis. Some elements you need to cover include

  • Assign tasks, responsibilities, and due dates to each team member
  • Lead weekly scrum meetings setting goals and addressing issues & conflicts
  • Keeping a positive attitude among the team is an important soft skills used on the daily
  • Hold one-on-one meetings with each individual member

Not only do you need to set direction, but it is also your responsibility to make sure that your developers feel comfortable with the direction and their tasks. We cover these skills in more depth in PSM1. 

Reviewing Dev Output

You are responsible for the final code that gets pushed, which means you need to create a system to review code to ensure quality. 

  • Review code produced by the developer to ensure there are no conflicts and that all parts of the ticket were tackled
  • Opportunity to identify any recurring issues in order to work on those weaknesses with the developer 

Identifying Struggling Developers & Help Them Grow

Most likely, you’re not going to be managing a team of all stars, which means you’ll have junior and inexperienced developers on your team. You’ll need to put up guardrails in order to identify and correct any potential issues before they become a serious problem. 

This will be the most challenging part of your new role, but it is also the most rewarding. The best bosses, coaches, and mentors are able to take struggling talent and turn them into highly-productive team members. Here are some clues to lookout for that indicate developers are struggling:

  • Consistently missing deadlines
  • Performance has noticeably decreased
  • Excessive delay with simple tasks
  • Uncommunicative
  • Don't follow tasks requirements

Developer setbacks can occur for many reasons: the personal life of an employee is interfering with their performance or they fall into consecutive mistakes and they forget their strengths and get kinda lost.  These cycles are tough to break. Identifying struggling developers is key to pulling them out of that cycle, to avoiding greater struggles, and it is one of the main reasons for the Emotional Intelligence training in our program.  

Emotional IQ: The Team 

Of the three EIQ sessions, this one is the most important. One of the hardest things for new managers to do is identify a difficult situation (poorly performing developer), address them in a respectable way (nobody likes confrontation), and provide direction and advice to correct behavior (change is hard). Here are some tips to work through these situations:

  • Don't jump to conclusions, check your thoughts, looking at issues from different perspectives. Ask questions to understand the situation better.
  • Empathy, empathy, empathy! You’ve got to put yourselves in their shoes. Empathy is a daily habit you need to start building. 
  • Always explain your actions and decisions making sure to provide the ‘whys’ behind them.
  • Create a safe environment in which your team can voice their opinion, always try to end the conversation on a positive note

Role Playing

The final role playing scenarios will really put your soft skills to the test. These scenarios are designed to be uncomfortable to provide exposure to some of the conversations and events that will happen when you lead a team and are responsible with a client:

  • You have a challenging client and your team is growing more and more frustrated. What do you do to prevent a big mistake? 
  • One of your developers is underperforming but acts like they know it all. How do you handle this?
  • One of your developers has personal issues. How do you handle it? 
  • One of your developers has skill issue. What do you do to address the situation? 
  • Developer is not a fit for account
  • You’ve constantly given feedback to a developer but they just aren’t getting it. And worse, they get defensive and put up walls. How do you handle this situation? 
  • Your project has some dependencies and overlap with an internal (or external) development team. They are not cooperating making it hard to do quality work and meet deadlines. What do you do to get your project back on track? 


Click to download this scorecard to evaluate how well you are managing your team.

Now that you’ve successfully managed your time, deliverables, and your client, you are ready to take on a team. Congratulations!

Over the years, we’ve trained dozens of Admios developers through this process. We take great pride in our professional development paths and we have engineers that have gone on to lead teams and very successful projects for clients. With a plan and focus, you can create a robust professional development program to increase retention and turn engineers into managers on your team. 

Here are links to all posts in this series:

Becoming an Engineering Manager: Manage Your Client
Becoming an Engineering Manager: Agile Philosophy

Suscribe to our newsletter

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.