Top 15 Engineering Management Books

These books on engineering management recommended by successful tech leaders will help you successfully transition from employee to manager and become a great engineering manager.
Top 15 Engineering Management Books

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What makes a good manager? In order to effectively manage tech teams and deliver great software, the manager needs to develop key engineering management skills.

Vectorly has prepared the list of 8 top Engineering Management skills in 2022 which you can find in our article or download the skill matrix.

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To help you develop the necessary skills, we have prepared a list of top books on Engineering Management recommended by experienced and successful leaders in tech which will help you transition from employee to manager and become a great Engineering Manager.

1. An Elegant Puzzle: Systems of Engineering Management

Will Larson’s An Elegant Puzzle focuses on the particular challenges of engineering management--from sizing teams to handling technical debt to performing succession planning--and provides a path to the good solutions. Drawing from his experience at Digg, Uber, and Stripe, Larson has developed a thoughtful approach to engineering management for leaders of all levels at companies of all sizes. An Elegant Puzzle balances structured principles and human-centric thinking to help any leader create more effective and rewarding organizations for engineers to thrive in.

2. Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates

In Measure What Matters, Doerr shares a broad range of first-person, behind-the-scenes case studies, with narrators including Bono and Bill Gates, to demonstrate the focus, agility, and explosive growth that OKRs have spurred at so many great organizations. This book will help a new generation of leaders capture the same magic.

3. Harvard Business Review Manager's Handbook: The 17 Skills Leaders Need to Stand Out (HBR Handbooks)

In the HBR Manager’s Handbook you’ll find:
- Step-by-step guidance through common managerial tasks
- Short sections and chapters that you can turn to quickly as a need arises
- Self-assessments throughout
- Exercises and templates to help you practice and apply the concepts in the book
- Concise explanations of the latest research and thinking on important management skills from Harvard Business Review experts such as Dan Goleman, Clayton Christensen, John Kotter, and Michael Porter
- Real-life stories from working managers
- Recaps and action items at the end of each chapter that allow you to reinforce or review the ideas quickly

4. The Manager's Path: A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change

From mentoring interns to working with senior staff, you’ll get actionable advice for approaching various obstacles in your path. This book is ideal whether you’re a New manager, a mentor, or a more experienced leader looking for fresh advice. Pick up this book and learn how to become a better manager and leader in your organization.

  • Begin by exploring what you expect from a manager
  • Understand what it takes to be a good mentor, and a good tech lead
  • Learn how to manage individual members while remaining focused on the entire team
  • Understand how to manage yourself and avoid common pitfalls that challenge many leaders
  • Manage multiple teams and learn how to manage managers
  • Learn how to build and bootstrap a unifying culture in teams.

5. The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master

Ward Cunningham Straight from the programming trenches, The Pragmatic Programmer cuts through the increasing specialization and technicalities of modern software development to examine the core process--taking a requirement and producing working, maintainable code that delights its users. It covers topics ranging from personal responsibility and career development to architectural techniques for keeping your code flexible and easy to adapt and reuse. Read this book, and you’ll learn how to Fight software rot; Avoid the trap of duplicating knowledge; Write flexible, dynamic, and adaptable code; Avoid programming by coincidence; Bullet-proof your code with contracts, assertions, and exceptions; Capture real requirements; Test ruthlessly and effectively; Delight your users; Build teams of pragmatic programmers; and Make your developments more precise with automation. Written as a series of self-contained sections and filled with entertaining anecdotes, thoughtful examples, and interesting analogies, The Pragmatic Programmer illustrates the best practices and major pitfalls of many different aspects of software development. Whether you’re a new coder, an experienced program.

6. Smart and Gets Things Done: Joel Spolsky's Concise Guide to Finding the Best Technical Talent

A "good" programmer can outproduce five, ten, and sometimes more run-of-the-mill programmers. The secret to success for any software company then is to hire the good programmers. But how to do that? In Joel on Hiring, Joel Spolsky draws from his experience both at Microsoft and running his own successful software company based in New York City. He writes humorously, but seriously about his methods for sorting resumes, for finding great candidates, and for interviewing, in person and by phone. Joel’s methods are not complex, but they do get to the heart of the matter: how to recognize a great developer when you see one.

7. Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software

The authors begin by describing what patterns are and how they can help you design object-oriented software. They then go on to systematically name, explain, evaluate, and catalog recurring designs in object-oriented systems. With Design Patterns as your guide, you will learn how these important patterns fit into the software development process, and how you can leverage them to solve your own design problems most efficiently.

Each pattern describes the circumstances in which it is applicable, when it can be applied in view of other design constraints, and the consequences and trade-offs of using the pattern within a larger design. All patterns are compiled from real systems and are based on real-world examples. Each pattern also includes code that demonstrates how it may be implemented in object-oriented programming languages like C++ or Smalltalk.

8. Agile Software Development, Principles, Patterns, and Practices

Written by a software developer for software developers, this book is a unique collection of the latest software development methods. The author includes OOD, UML, Design Patterns, Agile and XP methods with a detailed description of a complete software design for reusable programs in C++ and Java. Using a practical, problem-solving approach, it shows how to develop an object-oriented application―from the early stages of analysis, through the low-level design and into the implementation. Walks readers through the designer's thoughts ― showing the errors, blind alleys, and creative insights that occur throughout the software design process. The book covers: Statics and Dynamics; Principles of Class Design; Complexity Management; Principles of Package Design; Analysis and Design; Patterns and Paradigm Crossings. Explains the principles of OOD, one by one, and then demonstrates them with numerous examples, completely worked-through designs, and case studies. Covers traps, pitfalls, and work arounds in the application of C++ and OOD and then shows how Agile methods can be used. Discusses the methods for designing and developing big software in detail. Features a three-chapter, in-depth, single case study of a building security system. For Software Engineers, Programmers, and Analysts who want to understand how to design object oriented software with state of the art methods.

9. Extreme Programming Explained

Software development projects can be fun, productive, and even daring. Yet they can consistently deliver value to a business and remain under control.

Extreme Programming (XP) was conceived and developed to address the specific needs of software development conducted by small teams in the face of vague and changing requirements. This new lightweight methodology challenges many conventional tenets, including the long-held assumption that the cost of changing a piece of software necessarily rises dramatically over the course of time. XP recognizes that projects have to work to achieve this reduction in cost and exploit the savings once they have been earned.

10. Test Driven Development: By Example

Quite simply, test-driven development is meant to eliminate fear in application development. While some fear is healthy (often viewed as a conscience that tells programmers to "be careful!"), the author believes that byproducts of fear include tentative, grumpy, and uncommunicative programmers who are unable to absorb constructive criticism. When programming teams buy into TDD, they immediately see positive results. They eliminate the fear involved in their jobs, and are better equipped to tackle the difficult challenges that face them. TDD eliminates tentative traits, it teaches programmers to communicate, and it encourages team members to seek out criticism However, even the author admits that grumpiness must be worked out individually! In short, the premise behind TDD is that code should be continually tested and refactored. Kent Beck teaches programmers by example, so they can painlessly and dramatically increase the quality of their work.

11. Mythical Man-Month

Few books on software project management have been as influential and timeless as The Mythical Man-Month. With a blend of software engineering facts and thought-provoking opinions, Fred Brooks offers insight for anyone managing complex projects. These essays draw from his experience as project manager for the IBM System/360 computer family and then for OS/360, its massive software system. Now, 20 years after the initial publication of his book, Brooks has revisited his original ideas and added new thoughts and advice, both for readers already familiar with his work and for readers discovering it for the first time.

The added chapters contain (1) a crisp condensation of all the propositions asserted in the original book, including Brooks' central argument in The Mythical Man-Month: that large programming projects suffer management problems different from small ones due to the division of labor; that the conceptual integrity of the product is therefore critical; and that it is difficult but possible to achieve this unity; (2) Brooks' view of these propositions a generation later; (3) a reprint of his classic 1986 paper "No Silver Bullet"; and (4) today's thoughts on the 1986 assertion, "There will be no silver bullet within ten years."

12. Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams

Few books in computing have had as profound an influence on software management as Peopleware. The unique insight of this longtime best seller is that the major issues of software development are human, not technical. They’re not easy issues; but solve them, and you’ll maximize your chances of success.

13. Death March

Historically, all software projects have involved a certain degree of risk and pressure -- but many of the projects in today's chaotic business environment involve such intense pressure that they are referred to colloquially as "death-march" projects -- i.e., projects whose schedules are so compressed, and/or whose budgets, or resource (people) assignments are so constrained, that the only "obvious" way to succeed is for the entire team to work 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, with no vacations until the project is finished. While the corporate goal of such projects is to overcome impossible odds and achieve miracles, the personal goal of the project manager and team members often shrinks down to mere survival: keeping one's job, maintaining some semblance of a relationship with one's spouse and children, and avoiding a heart attack or ulcer. This new and thoroughly-updated edition of Ed Yourdon's book takes into account many of the changes that have taken place in the more than six years since the publication of the first edition.

14. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

The New York Times best-selling team leadership handbook for modern executives, managers, and organizations In The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, author Patrick Lencioni once again offers a leadership fable that is as enthralling and instructive as his first two best-selling books, The Five Temptations of a CEO and The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive. This time, he turns his keen intellect and storytelling power to the fascinating, complex world of teams. Kathryn Petersen, Decision Tech's CEO, faces the ultimate leadership crisis: uniting a team in such disarray that it threatens to bring down the entire company. Will she succeed? Will she be fired? Will the company fail? Lencioni's utterly gripping tale serves as a timeless reminder that leadership requires as much courage as it does insight. Throughout the story, Lencioni reveals the five dysfunctions which go to the very heart of why teams, even the best ones, often struggle. He outlines a powerful model and actionable steps that can be used to overcome these common hurdles and build a cohesive, effective team. Just as with his other books, Lencioni has written a compelling fable with a powerful yet deceptively simple message for all those who strive to be exceptional team leaders.

15. The First-Time Manager

The trusted management classic and go to guide for anyone facing new responsibilities as a first time manager, revised and updated to address modern management challenges.

The jump from star employee to new manager is bigger than most people realize—with opportunities to fail at every step. Stumbling your way through isn’t an option.

Learn to conquer every challenge like a pro with the clear, candid advice in The First Time Manager. For nearly four decades, this trusted guide has brought newcomers up to speed on the nitty gritty realities of managing people.

Leading meetings, hiring employees, motivating others, actively listening, staying calm under pressure, overcoming resistance—dozens of skills are hammered home with honest explanations of what to expect and how to excel. Examples and action steps round out the lessons.

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