Top 3 Books for Managers

Moving into a people management role in the technology industry is a daunting task. I’ve done it twice in my career, mostly figuring out as I go with support from my peers and upper management. Having a good backlog of books can help as you take on this change in your career.

I’ve recently been asked for suggestions on a handful of books that I’ve found useful to support the transition to technical people management. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not an avid reader (and when I do these days, it’s mostly Dr Seuss and Marvel!). However, I would recommend the following 3 books: while most of these books are more related to technical people management, they are great reads for all levels of folks in the technology industry.

The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win

Gene Kim, Kevin Behr & George Spafford

The Phoenix Project is one of my favourite technology reads. It goes through the story of Bill, an IT Leader, who joins a new organization and is tasked on “right the ship” on an existing, legacy project. The book reads like a novel, however, it has a wealth of information and tips for any leader who’s taking on a new challenge or addressing a new project and team. Highly recommended!

Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager

Michael Lopp (@rands)

If you follow @rands on Twitter, then you’re likely getting a regular dose of technology and people leadership reality on a regular basis. If you’d like to have many, many of those tips in one read - Managing Humans is your book! Less fiction than The Phoenix Project, however, this book tells it like it is: the good, the bad and the ugly of being a manager in the engineering industry. Lots of great tips here, too!

The Manager’s Path: A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change

Camille Fournier

A fantastic read for all levels in the technology industry. Even if you’re starting your path into leadership, The Manager’s Path is the book for you. Camille has gone through quite a transition in her career, and this book provides tips for anyone who is progressing and looking for support. Whether your a developer, technical lead, director or senior leader, there’s plenty in this book that you can pick up in chapters that are relevant to you.

Hopefully these books are helpful to you as you embark on your career in technical management, or if you just need a refresher or want to learn new skills!