The Challenges of Leading Engineering Teams

We believe that engineers can benefit from understanding their managers better. First, having more empathy can create a more productive relationship. But it can also give you a sense of what it would take to do that job — in case you’re interested in leading a team yourself in the future.

We have asked several engineering leaders what they wish engineers understood about the challenges of their roles. Let’s hear directly from them!

What do you wish engineers understood about the challenges their managers go through?

Jim Liu

Software Engineering Manager at Nordstrom, ex. Microsoft and Starbucks

“The managers really don’t need to be the go-to opinion in the room. Most engineering managers I admire are the ones sponsoring and coaching in the background. We want to yield the floor for engineers to shine, no matter senior or early-in-career. The challenges managers had to go through are balancing the trust and accountability of each engineer. As an engineer, if you only present problems without demonstrating your effort of solving them, it would be hard to place trust in you, nor does the action showcase your accountability.”

Ashik Uzzaman

Engineering Manager at Marqeta, ex. Roku Inc., Adobe, TubeMogul, and

When engineering managers are giving relatively high dev estimate for an apparently small task, they are not moving slow, they are adding time to account for the unexpected. When they are going to meetings after meetings, it’s so that you don’t have to. They can answer some of your questions, but they don’t have all the answers. Also, they crave feedback but rarely get it.

Garth Gaughan

Engineering Manager at Freshly

First engineers shouldn’t have to worry about their managers’ challenges. It is the job of the manager to worry about the challenges of the Individual Contributor. That being said, the thing I wish that engineers understood was the impact that they have on a business. They can expand this and become even more valuable by being creative and innovative inside of the business.

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