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What Too Many Companies Don’t Get: Management IS NOT A Promotion

Most tech companies have no idea what they're doing when it comes to engineering managers and overall leadership culture. One of the clearest ways this is reflected is how engineering manager is positioned within the company hierarchy.

Here are the core points:

  • Management is NOT a promotion - Becoming an engineering manager is about adding value to the overall engineering in a different way. It's not about "moving up" or "controlling the engineers". A trademark sign of bad companies is that they position the switch into management as moving up the corporate ladder. The problem with this is that employees then switch into management for the wrong reasons, chasing money and power. This leads to an unhealthy dynamic between engineers and manager as engineers are "beneath" the manager, usually leading to the manager treating them as expendable and burning them out.
  • Top companies have separate SWE and EM tracks - In companies like FAANG, both staying as an individual contributor (IC) software engineer and becoming an engineering manager are valid career paths with the same ceilings. This means that for every management level (manager, director, VP), there is an equivalent software engineering level with a similar amount of compensation.

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