Sep 24, 2023Liked by James Stanier

And to provide some more fruitful conversation:

I‘m right now in this crazy spot of 15+ people and you are right it’s almost impossible to really operate.

At that level, I‘ve been doing the following:

- Which topic is burning (high impact)? => I deep dive more with the team, ask more, call for alignments when need etc. still coordinating yet with the goal to get it done.

- Teams who are senior + low risk of attrition + good, continuous performance => let them run. I‘m trying to not be in the way as long as necessary.

Still, with so many teams comes so many initiatives/deliverables, meetings with business and more.

At the end, it’s not just the people side which is burning you down, it’s often all the responsibilities that come with 15+ people.

In my extreme case: PDP, SERP, Rendering Framework, PIM, CMS 😅

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This is a great read, James!

I’m thinking of writing a perspective of mine from my experience and add reference to your writing. Quite some interesting stuff to share as I’ve been in both ends :)

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Sep 25, 2023·edited Sep 25, 2023Liked by James Stanier

I can't imagine how managing 10+ people looks like. In startups around me (Tel Aviv area), the sweet spot seems to be 4-6 reports. There is an expectation for the team leaders to be hands on, which as you mentioned, can work great :)

In the last year I've been managing 4-5 developers, and I enjoy that balance. I understand the part about seniority, I do feel that my maximum span is slowly increasing (which is reflected in the time I have to code). But I feel that having a span of control smaller than the maxium is a good thing for the organization.

Loved the visuals! :)

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Sep 24, 2023·edited Sep 24, 2023Liked by James Stanier

Great topic, maybe it's hot, but not really well-covered in the little engineering management bubble. I've gone through some wild changes myself, all in one company:

1. Engineering Lead for 1 team with 3-5 people, daily operational involvement, partly IC - basically Tech Lead with additional management responsibilities

2. Senior Engineering Manager for 2 teams, each with 3-4 people, involved in some of the sprint meetings but not an IC anymore, now really focusing on the management part

3. Engineering Director with 2 direct reports, each being an Engineering Lead with a team of 5-7 engineers - much more strategic role, managing managers for the first time, totally different situation

4. And now we've flattened our structure, as many others have, and I'm responsible for 2 teams of 6 people each + 1 additional IC, the ELs have become Tech Leads with no management responsibilities, and this is the only reason why this can work...

So I landed in this coordinator role with 13 reports. It works but is it sustainable? The teams are experienced, but there are new topics every day. I'm still involved in some strategic initiatives that I can't delegate at the moment. Playing around with the calendar takes a visible portion of time, and I can find focus time only because I made some sacrifices. I'm not part of sprint meetings, I don't have weekly 1:1s with everyone (we optimize the frequency for every engineer individually), I don't review the code. It's tough to help engineers when you're not able to review their code so I must rely on peer feedback. All this is possible but I feel that it should be easier. Should it?

8 seems like a good spot. But I'd also say that being a manager for 1 team of 10 will be easier than for 2 teams of 3. I haven't really come across any good articles on managing ICs in multiple teams, and I don't think our company is the only one that has such a setup. With those crazy 15+ setups, is it usually one team or multiple?

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Sep 24, 2023Liked by James Stanier

Just a first little side note 😃:

In dark mode your text on the image is not possible to read, not sure how to fix that but maybe some other color which works for both backgrounds 😬

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I fully agree, James. 5 to 10 direct reports is a sweet spot for managers to impact their work and careers significantly.

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