Thursday, August 23, 2018

My manager README

Original is here:

Update December 2020: I decided to make the repository private for now. I have some doubt if a manager README makes sense and mine was also not up to date. I might pick this up again in the future.

Manager README?

A few people (not only managers) now share information in a README or how-to style document on the web. The first one I came across was How to Rands. I thought it is a good idea for new team members, but also for people in the company who don't have constant contact with me. 

What I do

I am the Technical Director at Devex. I am mostly a manager, but as we grow progressing into a manager of managers.

My job is to make the product development run as smoothly and productive as possible. This includes slowly growing the team to adapt to a growing company. It also means making everyone in my team successful in his job by providing everything they need.

I am also usually the first contact point when there any questions regarding technology from other teams or outside.

I do make decisions about a lot of things and prefer to make an early decision to waiting for the perfect decision.

What I am about

  • I am an introvert, this means I get exhausted if I have a lot of meetings and no time in between to recover. Social events with a lot of people I don't know are especially taxing.
  • I am very patient and prefer evolution over revolutions.
  • I am the person who says "no" to most people, this goes for my team as well as the rest of the company. It is easier to say "yes" because it is preferred by most people and you always to want to help everyone.
  • I tend to think a lot before I talk, this can be awkward in conversations.
  • I think meetings with more than four people are usually a waste, unless they are highly structured or ritualised like a retrospective or an all hands meeting. All meetings should result in action items (having another meeting with the same group is not considered an action item).
  • I prefer nudging over forcing people into one direction.
  • I have strong opinions about how do to things, but I can be convinced with the right arguments.
  • I strongly believe in being agile, from the project management side to programming.
  • I try to be as transparent as possible, please nudge me if I am not
  • I am pragmatic and prefer to have something good enough today, then something perfect in some distance future.
  • I take the blame, but share the kudos.

My schedule

I am usually in the office from 9:00 to 18:00. I don't like to stay longer and will cancel meetings set up after 18:00 unless I agree that it is very important and can't be scheduled to another time. I don't read slack or email outside of working times.

I live in my calendar and it is always really packed, but it is fully public and you can just schedule a meeting with me whenever you like.

If you are on my team we will have regular 1:1s and also retrospectives. If something important comes up I am always available to talk.


My preferred communication medium for actionable items is email. Jira is on par with email.

Slack also works, but I am treating it as asynchronous and will not respond as soon as possible, depending on the urgency. I might also not scroll back in a lot of channels when catching up.

I will also post updates to the internal blog, maybe once a month.

Finally there are the meetings, either 1:1s, team meetings or impromptu meetings.


I currently have my 1:1s every four weeks. I am trying to increase frequency by sharing the load with others. With indirect reports it will be more like once a quarter.

The 1:1 is the place where you can bring up any topics that you are not comfortable sharing in retrospectives or other meetings. I am asking some questions to get the conversation started. These have evolved a bit over time.
  • How is life?
  • What are you worried about at the moment?
  • What are you excited about at the moment?
  • How can I help you learn and grow?
  • Do you have any feedback for me? 

What I expect from you (if you are on my team)

I expect you to try to do the best job you can.

If there are any road blocks or problems I expect you to bring these up with me so we can make sure you don't get stuck.

Come to me early when there is a problem to avoid any frustration. There will never be blame, we will just fix it together.

Books I recommend

  • The Manager's Path: A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change by Camille Fournier
  • Web Operations: Keeping the Data on Time by John Allspaw, Jesse Robbins
  • Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change (The XP Series) by Kent Beck, Cynthia Andres
  • The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries
  • Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Malone Scott
  • Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen

What I am doing aside from work

Most of my free time I try to spend on my bicycle, this is where I decompress and my way of meditation.

I am interested in urbanism and life sized cities and have strong opinions about this.

I also like to follow the Linux and Open Source world. I am a contributor to the Fedora Linux distribution, but nowadays I have nearly no time to work on it.

Me on the Internet

If you like to keep up to date with my random rants on the internet

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