Engineering management

This page documents resources that are relevant and valuable to anyone on the engineering team, but in particular to engineering leaders.


  • #eng-manager-internal is a public channel where engineering managers can discuss work as a first team.
  • #leadership-chat is a public channel (not specific to engineering) where anyone can discuss and share information of general interest to leadership at Sourcegraph.
  • #manager-team is a private channel where managers across functions can solicit advice from and share info with fellow managers about topics that they do not feel comfortable discussing in #leadership-chat for any reason.

Book recommendations

Here are some books that multiple people on the team have read and recommend. If you haven’t read these, use your education budget and read them!

  • Turn the Ship Around - An inspiring story of how Navy captain David Marquet turned the lowest performing submarine in the Navy into the top performing one with his bottom’s up leadership style.
  • Orbiting the Giant Hairball - An entertaining self-account of Gordon MacKenzie’s experience fostering creativity on his team at Hallmark Cards. Buy the hard copy. There are lots of fun illustrations and short stories. It is a quick read and probably unlike any other book you have read.
  • Radical Candor - How to be a great leader by caring personally and challenging directly.
  • An Elegant Puzzle - A field manual on how to do engineering management. Reads like a well structured markdown file.
  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team - A model of how to think about what makes a highly effective team paired with a fictional story that illustrates the model.
  • The Leader’s Guide to Unconscious Bias (facilitated small group discussions.

Promotion and compensation increase requests

Refer to the promotion request and compensation increase process information.

Transitioning from Individual Contributor to Engineering Manager

For teammates interested in becoming Engineering Managers who do not have prior experience in people management, we have defined a transition framework that affords this candidate a “Manager in training” opportunity for a trial period. This trial period will allow the teammate to gain exposure to management principles, determine if they would excel as an Engineering Manager, and help them envision committing to this career path long-term.

Expressing interest in becoming an Engineering Manager

Prerequisites for a manager in training trial: Teammates who have reached the IC4 level, have a track record of good performance at Sourcegraph, and have been a teammate at Sourcegraph for at least six months.

The teammate should make their desire clear to their Engineering Manager so that when a relevant opportunity becomes available, they may be considered.

Opportunities for a manager in training trial can come about through a current Engineering Manager position becoming vacant, an existing team splitting into two, or an Engineering Manager going on long-term PTO. When an opportunity arises, the teammate’s manager can nominate them for a manager in training trial by having a conversation with the Director of Engineering for the relevant org.

There are some considerations to keep in mind to ensure that the teammate is set up for success:

  • The teammate’s existing team should be in a position for them not to be involved as an IC for the whole duration of the trial period. Managers in training should not fulfill a dual role.
  • The team to be managed should comply with our minimum viable team criteria.
  • The team to be managed should have a dedicated and established Product Manager assigned to it.
  • The team to be managed should preferably not be one that the manager in training was an IC on.

Manager in training trial period

During the trial period, the manager in training will assume full Engineering Manager responsibility as outlined in the Engineering Manager responsibilities.

The teammate’s manager, director, or another nominated manager/director will become their sponsoring manager for the duration of the trial period. The sponsoring manager must commit to providing extra support to the manager in training during the trial period, which will last 12 weeks.

The sponsoring manager will give the manager in training active coaching and feedback during weekly 1-1s and conduct bi-weekly 1-1s with the manager in training’s direct reports to collect feedback and set them up for success. Halfway through their trial period, the manager in training will receive an interim performance evaluation to help them identify strengths and shortcomings as an engineering manager and allow them to adjust if needed.

The trial period can be ended at any time by either the manager in training or the sponsoring manager if either party feels like being an Engineering Manager may not be the best role for the trainee. If either party decides to end it, both the trainer and trainee should formulate a transition plan for the trainee to resign their duties and resume working with their original teams.

Becoming an Engineering Manager

Suppose the trial period for the manager in training was determined to be successful, and they would like to commit to the role change. In that case, the sponsoring manager will submit a request for a formal role change using the role change request template. Following approval from the relevant decision-makers (Director, VP), the role change request is forwarded to the relevant teammates in PeopleOps (refer to People Ops Communications Matrix) for confirmation. Once confirmed by PeopleOps the change can be communicated to the teammate and the company.