“As a manager, what is your ideal time spent on coding?”

August 22, 2022 · 5 min · Adam McKerlie

This question was recently asked in a local engineering slack organization and it got me thinking, what would the ideal amount of time spent on technical contributions be for me? When I first transitioned from a developer to a manager I didn’t know how I provided value. I assumed that being a manager was largely the same as being a developer except now I had to talk to other developers and help them become better somehow....

So, you want to become an Engineering Manager?

August 6, 2022 · 4 min · Adam McKerlie

Most developers at one point or another in their careers have thought about switching to management. Maybe your boss left suddenly and you were the most senior engineer on the team. Maybe you’ve spent a number of years in your current role and are wanting a new challenge. Or, if you’re lucky, your mentor brought up some traits they thought would make you a really good manager. Whatever the reason, you’re here now, trying to figure out whether this is the right move for you....

Welcome to mckerlie.com

August 2, 2022 · 2 min · Adam McKerlie

For the better part of the last decade, I’ve been an Engineering Manager (EM) and Director of Engineering (DoE). I’ve learnt a number of ways that don’t work when it comes to leading people and a few ways that do and I’d like to share them with you. A few weeks ago one of my co-workers asked me what it was like getting into management. As I reflected on that question I realized it was one I’ve answered before....

Meetings can be Poisonous

December 22, 2020 · 5 min · Adam McKerlie

Eight years ago I wrote about how meetings are poisonous . At the time I was the senior developer on my team and I was getting pulled into 4-5 meetings a day. This killed my productivity and made it difficult to get any of my IC work done. I struggled for many months until I realized that I could just say no to meetings. Since then I’ve transitioned from developer to manager , manager to director and then back to manager....

7 Musings on Minion Management

September 8, 2017 · 3 min · Adam McKerlie

So, you’ve just been promoted to the dark side of management but you don’t know how to lead your minions? Here are a few tips on keeping your plebeians in line. Make Your Minions Do the Dirty Work You shouldn’t worry yourself about work that’s underneath you, you get paid way to much. You’ve hired coder monkeys to handle everything from downed servers at 3 am to documentation to those pesky clients....

The Lead Developer Conference — Day 2

September 6, 2017 · 5 min · Adam McKerlie

In this article, I’ll go over the talks delivered on Day 2 of the Lead Developer Conference. Again, this was a fantastic conference that you should think about attending in the future, especially if you’re leading technical teams. You can read about Day 1 here and here. Kevin Goldsmith — Fail Safe, Fail Smart, Succeed Kevin Goldsmith started day two by speaking about how to fail as a team and how we can create environments to learn from failure....

The Lead Developer Conference — Day 1 (Part 2)

August 9, 2017 · 4 min · Adam McKerlie

After lunch, we came back to a number of excellent talks. I always find the afternoons the most difficult to pay attention to since your brain is full from the morning sessions and your stomach is full from lunch but at the Lead Developer Conference I found myself fully engrossed with all of the talks. You can read about the first part of day1 Rob Allen — 5 Features of a Good API This was the first technical talk of the day and it didn’t disappoint....

The Lead Developer Conference — Day 1 (Part 1)

June 20, 2017 · 5 min · Adam McKerlie

One June 8th and 9th I attended the Lead Developer Conference in London England. The two-day conference, geared towards Managers, Directors, VPs and CTOs, was extremely well planned and executed, and all of the speakers were top notch. In this post I’ll be summarizing and highlighting half of the talks from Day 1. If you’re interested in reading the other summaries you can do so for the second half of the first day and the second day....

Four Things I Wish I Knew When I Started My Career

May 22, 2017 · 4 min · Adam McKerlie

When I was getting started early on in my career I made a lot of mistakes. I was unhappy, working for people who didn’t respect me and I was lost. I was unsure as to whether or not I wanted to continue being a developer and for a while, I was unsure if I’d ever be able to make it. I was working my butt off and burning myself out for a company I didn’t believe in....

The Five Traits I Look For When Hiring

January 26, 2017 · 4 min · Adam McKerlie

Hiring is hard. It’s a stressful process where you’re trying to find a good fit, both personally and technically, all in a few short hours. Over the last 7 years, I’ve hired many developers and while they haven’t all worked out, I’ve been very fortunate to have been able to work with some excellent people. In every case, as I’m sitting across from them in the interview, I focus on trying to see if the candidate exhibits the following five traits....

From Developer to Manager

October 12, 2016 · 6 min · Adam McKerlie

In early 2013 I transitioned from a developer to a manager of a team of 3 when my manager left suddenly. It took me over two years (and doubling the team size) until I felt like I really understood what it meant to be a manager and thought I was adding value. Here are a few things I’ve learnt and tips others gave to me. Less Coding By far the hardest thing for me to realize was that I needed to cut back the amount of coding that I did....

Properly Handling Failures

March 23, 2012 · 3 min · Adam McKerlie

“Remember the two benefits of failure. First, if you do fail, you learn what doesn’t work; and second, the failure gives you the opportunity to try a new approach” — Roger Von Oech Every developer has written a bug at least once in their careers. It’s almost a rite of passage to debug faulty code and turn it into something that works. Most of the time these bugs are caught before they ever reach the eyes of your customers but every so often a bug gets through to production....

10 Tips for Being a Great Manager

August 20, 2008 · 4 min · Adam McKerlie

Having a good manager can make the difference between an amazing work experience and a horrible one. At work, you can tell the developers that have a good manager from the ones that don’t based purely on how well they work and how happy they are. As a manager, making your developers happy and comfortable can increase their productivity and make a better work experience for everyone. Here are 10 tips to becoming a great manager:...

How To Motivate the Unmotivated

August 4, 2008 · 3 min · Adam McKerlie

Most developers have, at one point in their career, worked in a group; it’s inevitable if you’re working on a large project. If you’ve worked in a large group you most likely have met one developer that has been less motivated than the others and this post is for you. Motivating the unmotivated can be a difficult task for a manager. You have to know how to motivate them and not make them feel unwanted....

The Importance of Taking a Break

June 23, 2008 · 3 min · Adam McKerlie

One of the most important practices in software development is taking breaks. I know how weird that sounds but it’s true. Programmers often focus on getting the task done and forget about their own mental and physical health. Taking breaks can help you be more productive , they help rest your body , and they help by letting your brain digest any code you’ve written. Relieve Stress Programmers are constantly wearing themselves out....