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Separating People And Technical Management

Han Rusman

Head of Product at Sensorfact

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Problem

"To make things simple, Endouble put one leader per team in place, to take care of both people management and technical management. However, by doing that we ended up with people who were very skilled technically who were spending too much time on people management and we were losing technical capacity. In addition, some of the technical people were unhappy. If you put technical people in people management positions and they don't enjoy it, they will drag their feet about doing the work, even if they are good managers."

Actions taken

"As our teams grew, the problem became increasingly apparent, as the leaders' management responsibilities were also piling up. That's when we decided to look into other options. We started out by speaking with a lot of other companies to find out how they structured their leadership, and in the end, we decided to completely split people management and technical management. Before this change, our CTO had some technical people who were reporting to him, but he also needed to do their appraisals, evaluations, and one-on-ones. He was spending more and more time in meetings, and he was unhappy. Now, the CTO just reports to me, and he doesn't have any other reporting responsibilities, so he can focus completely on technical issues. We did the same with the teams. Endouble has one VP of Engineering and three team leads who report to him. The team leads are engineering managers who are responsible for ensuring their teams perform well and that the right people are working on the right questions. However, we also have three tech leads who make decisions around technical issues and who report to the engineering managers."

Lessons learned

"At first, we were a little skeptical about how effective this approach would be, as we thought there would be too many managers for the number of engineers we had, but in practice, it has worked really well. If you can make sure that people are doing what they are best at, and what they are passionate about, then the work will be done twice as fast. Our technical people are happy not to have to spend too much time on people management issues, and the team members like it because they know who to go to for their people management issues, and don't have to go to their tech lead who dislikes that type of work."


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Han Rusman

Head of Product at Sensorfact


Engineering LeadershipLeadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyDecision MakingCulture DevelopmentEngineering ManagementPerformance MetricsLeadership Training

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