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What are the pros & cons of reporting to an M1 vs M2?

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Senior Software Engineer [E5] at Taro Community9 months ago

I'm an E5 iOS at a Big Tech company. There's already an E6 iOS on my team, so it's been hard for me to get enough scope to get to E6. I feel both of us have been fighting for scope. My EM got forced out due to a PIP, so my skip level's temporarily leading the team until he hires a backfill. My skip level knows that I've been frustrated about the lack of opportunities on this team, so he found me a potential E6 opportunity with a different team in our org.

When the new team's skip level found out I could do both iOS and backend, he got very excited and said I could report to the team's EM or him directly. He wants me to mentor junior mobile engineers on multiple teams. He wants me to be the voice for mobile engineers and a thought partner for multiple PMs/teams. He wants me to bridge the mobile engineers to the rest of the new team, which has mostly backend and web engineers. I feel I have better rapport with the new team's M1, but it could be that I was a bit intimidated by the M2. What are the pros and cons of reporting to an M1 vs M2? Would reporting to an M2 make it easier to get to E6?

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(5 comments)
  • 4
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    Engineer @ Robinhood
    9 months ago

    (I've reported to M2 twice: once as my official direct manager and once when my manager left the company and I needed a temporary manager)

    From my conversations with M2s, I was able to get much a much higher level view of what the direction of the org/projects look like and what were the broader problems in the org and product. I felt like I was able to come out of those conversations with a much broader and/or deeper view of what's next, which made it easier to adjust my line of thinking for the future to match the direction of my org.

    Since your current position puts you in a spot where you have to fight for E6 scope and your skip manager seems to be on board with supporting your growth to E6, reporting to your skip manager feels like a strong path forwards. This puts you in a more direct position to get a view on the org and will likely provide you opportunities to tackle org level problems.

    Hope this helps!

  • 1
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    Mid-Level Software Engineer [SDE 2] at Amazon
    9 months ago

    M1s tend to micromanage more

  • 3
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    9 months ago

    M1

    Pros:

    • They will be more hands-on with you as they're a front-line engineering manager
    • They are more likely to remember what it was like being E5 and E6 and understand your more tactical issues

    Cons:

    • M1s have high-variance as a lot of them are fresh transitions from E6. New managers are very risky, so if the M1 has been an EM for <1 year, I would be careful. 90% of new EMs are pretty mediocre in their first year from my experience (it's a hard job!)
    • M1s won't be as well-connected as an M2, and connections are so, so important for E6 promo

    M2

    Pros:

    • They're operating at a higher-altitude, and you really need this perspective to get promoted to E6. Everything an E6 does should have at least M2 visibility
    • If you can impress them, their positive feedback will be extremely valuable for your promotion packet. The weight of an M2 vouch is obviously much more than an M1, and it will be much easier to get this if you report to them directly

    Cons:

    • Might not have time for you as most of an M2's time is generally tied up in managing other managers (much clearer multiplicative impact)
    • Might not remember what it's like being E5 and E6. A lot of M2s have been managers for the past 5-10 years and lost that IC perspective

    From my experience, well-performing E5 going for E6 promo (i.e. E5.5) is that sweet spot where reporting to an M2 makes sense. I have seen many M2s take strong E5s under their wing as their goal is to turn them into E6s.

    At the end of the day though, your goal should always be to report to a manager who is good and cares about you. It seems like this M2 cares about you and your growth potential a lot (the prospective scope they outlined for you is quite reasonable), so that alone makes me lean towards this person.

    M1s tend to micromanage more

    This is technically true as M1s will more hands-on and a lot of them are new EMs, but this is more of a trait of bad EMs as opposed to something you should associate with M1s as a whole. Again, the goal is more around just finding a good EM in general.

    For anyone else here with manager issues, I highly recommend watching this: [Masterclass] What Software Engineers Should Look For In Their Engineering Manager

  • 0
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    Senior Software Engineer [E5] [OP]
    Taro Community
    9 months ago

    Thanks for the responses, Jonathan, Jay, and Alex! The M2 decided that I'll report to him. Do you have any advice on how to impress the M2?

  • 1
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    Engineer @ Robinhood
    9 months ago

    For my current skip, the conversation for me feels like a dynamic where they're giving me trends/direction from broader leadership while I'm providing trends/direction from the IC level (for example: my main focus with manager 1:1s has been pushing for the platformization for Robinhood's payments experience & creating the space to define what successful platformization means). I think ancedoctally for me to get into this position, I was able to provide a fairly nuanced view as an IC backed by years of domain knowledge in the company/product.

    Extracting my anecdotal experiences into advice, I'd say the main thing is to look to provide your manager an on-the-ground view of what's happening. Your value as an IC is that your high level view has grounding in what's building it and who's building it (whiles managers hold more of a high level view and rarely/never have to dive deep into the weeds of coding with other people), and you should use that to support the M2 define the direction of the team (in a way that balances the health of engineering with the health of the business).