A manager’s manager

 Are you a new group manager? Many folks become group managers in the late fall. If you’ve never managed managers before, it can be a disorienting experience. You’d think it wouldn’t be that much different than being a lead. Wrong. It’s a dramatic departure. When you’re a lead, your group manager is there to cover…


Never been manager

 It’s September, a period of transition for many people, which means some folks will become managers for the first time. I’ve written extensively about being a good manager, starting with “I can manage” from chapter 9 of my book (a chapter dedicated to humane handling of humans). However, before you set off to become a…


Is it safe?

 Ten years ago, I wrote “I can manage” (in chapter 9), which captures how to be a good manager in four pages. Some recent articles and situations got me reflecting on one of the points: “There is nothing more critical, more essential than ensuring everyone is given an opportunity to work in a safe environment.”…


Permissible poaching—internal recruiting

 Review discussions are happening now, which means that the Microsoft internal transfer market is heating up. Some people want to move because they’ve stagnated. Some want to move because they need to find a better fit for their talents, temperament, or blood pressure. Regardless, now is a great time for managers to fill open positions….


Taking over

 There are many books and lecture series about creating high-performing teams that work well together, work hard for each other, and produce tremendous results. That’s nice. In real life, you, the manager, don’t get to create high-performing teams. You inherit low- to average-performing teams and are expected to transform them while delivering everything your predecessors…


Out of calibration

 It’s calibration time at Microsoft. Time for managers to rank everyone in your peer group (same discipline, same career stage, same division) into five (and a half) ranges: the top 20 percent (and top 5 percent), the near top 20 percent, the middle 40 percent, the lower 13 percent, and the bottom 7 percent. Calibration…


Making the big time

 Review time is almost over. Maybe you got promoted. Maybe your head is filled with thoughts of making it to the big time—calling the shots, getting paid, and having everyone hang on your every word. For entry and independent ICs, that means being a senior or principal engineer (manager or architect). For senior ICs and…


One to one and many to many

Does the prospect of a one-on-one with your manager make you energized or anxious? Are your morale events packed with peers or attended only by slackers and scandal spreaders? Chances are one-on-ones are at best bearable for you and morale events are rare, wasteful, or both. Wasting one-on-one time and morale events is inexcusable. It…


Spontaneous combustion of rancid management

What’s good for you isn’t always good for your group. Obvious, right? You can call it local versus global optimization. You can get geek philosophical about it and say, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few…or the one.” Or you can simply notice the difference you feel between zany ideas from…


Hire’s remorse

Looking for that perfect candidate to fill a role? Good, that means you’ll never steal a great candidate away from me. I love it when industrial-strength stupidity renders my competition comatose. You can’t hire the perfect candidate, but please keep trying. Maybe after six months I’ll even get your open headcount. This isn’t a case…