David Loftesness is now the head of engineering at eero and the co-author of Scaling Teams. There’s an all-too-common cycle in tech these days. Startup avoids management. Founder makes all the decisions. Startup gets traction. Hiring takes off. Management is suddenly needed. Founder turns to his best engineer: “I’m drowning. Can you manage this team for me?"
David Loftesness, Twitter’s former Director of Engineering, has been that chosen developer many times over two decades and six technology companies, including Xmarks and Geoworks. After steering his way through multiple engineer-to-manager transitions, Loftesness started shepherding other developers into their first leadership positions.
In 2015, he collected his wisdom on the subject into a 90-day plan for developers who transition into management. In this exclusive article, he breaks down this plan to help engineering leaders set their priorities, gain their footing, and assess their own performance so they can grow fast and start empowering others.
“It’s true that there are a billion blog posts about how to manage. But I felt that not only did they often contradict each other, but they also lacked defined checkpoints,” says Loftesness. “What I needed was a time-bound plan where there were opportunities to opt-out or level-up. That’s how I approach the 90-day plan for engineers becoming technical managers.”