Books for new managers…

As part of building a new team, I am spending sometime thinking about what makes a good manager... In particular, I have a couple of brave souls on my team that are taking the big step to managing people for the first time. 


In the process, I have been thinking about the books that I have read that have directly or indirectly influence my management philosophy... It is a bit of an odd list I know, but my general philosophy is that the core issue with management is about understanding people...  


Here is my quick list in no particular order..


Getting to Yes There is certainly an art to negotiations and I have found the principle based approach is easily applicable. 

Jack: Straight from the Gut This is great for the war stories...

Freakonomics At its heart, economics is about people, specifically, how people deal with scarcity. Living up to its name, this book looks at some common problems in a new way... great for getting insight into people.

Blink Another good way to understand people.. :

Good to Great The case studies here are the best it does bring home the point about finding what you love doing, that there is a market for, and that you can be the best at and doing just that.. I think it applies to individuals as much as companies.  A great manager can help people find how these intersect.

The Design of Everyday Things If you have read this and the Framework Design Guidelines, I hope you see that it is effected my technical work.  But I have found that it does given a deeper understanding of people as well.


I am sure a missed a bunch.  These are just the ones off the top of my head...


what else would you recommend?


2-01: fixed some formatting issues

Comments (17)

  1. Dave says:

    Peopleware, 2nd edition (DeMarco and Lister)

  2. Fox says:

    I would reccomend a couple.

    The first 90 days – great for hit the ground running

    Never eat alone – another perspective on building a netowrk of contacts and managing it

    Bill’s Swanson 25 unwritten rules of management

    that’s my top3 at the moment 😉

    Enjoy !

  3. I recently picked up a copy of Johanna Rothman and Esther Derby’s "Behind Closed Doors – Secrets of Great Management" book, and found it quite easy to read and very understandable, and full of great little tips. It helps that it is quite based on software development projects and has tons of examples 🙂

  4. Portman says:

    For your managers in particular, I would recommend

    "The E-Myth Revisited" by Michael E. Gerber. This is an old book, and the subject is small businesses, but Gerber’s thesis — that technicians make poor managers — is very relevant to devs or PMs who get promoted into management.

  5. Jose Lema says:

    Peopleware by Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister is a must read. I also enjoyed First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman. Finally, I recently read The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni and really enjoyed the fable-style.

  6. Tobek says:

    I also found Johanna Rothman’s book good, and have just passed it to a colleague who’s been "moved up the food chain". Lest a newly minted manager start to believe their own press releases, I’d also recommend The Dilbert Principle to stop them from taking it all to seriously, and give them a reality check on why it was they got promoted.

  7. RobertWrayUK says:

    "Fish!" (Lundin, Paul and Christensen) – to quote from the blurb on the back, "A powerful parable that will help you love the work you do – even if you can’t always do work that you love."

    I recently moved up the chain, "from minion to manager", and a very wise man gave me a copy of this book. I can’t really say much more, other than that it should be required reading!

  8. Joe says:

    Turn back before it’s too late! 😉

  9. I like Getting To Yes and Freakonomics.

    I’d add Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. The title makes it sound shallow, but it’s not. I think the book has some good observations.

    For a technical project, I think The Mythical Man-Month is good for perspective. If these were troubling problems 20 years ago and they’re still with us today… the only constant from then and now is people. If the problems persisted so long, they’re probably important.

    Read many of these books (the good ones). They all deal with people, but usually focus on a particular aspect. Reading a few is enough to establish a superficial style of dealing with people, but many makes for better comprehension; useful for the "undocumented" cases or to really change your mindset. 🙂

  10. I love "Peopleware"! I also second ScottW on "Think Big, Act Small"—a great book.

    I can also recommend "Slack" (again, came via ScottW) by Tom DeMarco, "Less is More" by Jennings, "First Break All The Rules" by Marcus Buckingham.

    A phenomenal read for both a manager or a parent  is "Punished by Rewards" by Alfie Kohn.

    I wasn’t fascinated by "The Mythical Man-Month." I think Peopleware put it out of commission for good.

    (ScottW, I hate you for hooking me up on reading these books. Just kidding)

  11. Edward Dinovo says:

    Bob Colwell’s book <a href=""&gt;

    The Pentium Chronicles: The People, Passion, and Politics Behind Intel’s Landmark Chips</a> is quickly becoming required reading for lead engineers and project managers.

  12. I would recommend "Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths and Total Nonsense" by Pfeffer and Sutton. Too much management myth and legend still inform business decisions.

  13. Eldar says:

    From Tuesday, March 14th, 2006: A friend of mine asked me recently if I had any good books on .NET internals…

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