Folks often ask me what I do at work. What even IS an engineering director? I don’t write code all day anymore, so it seems very mysterious. Here’s my answer: people, processes, priorities.
(1) People. Hiring, career growth, happiness, performance management, compensation, team culture, psychological safety, coaching the managers in my org. This is perhaps the most visible and obvious aspect of management.
(2) Processes. Are we making good decisions in a timely manner? Are we looking at the right metrics for launches? Are we planning and executing well? Is the product team far enough ahead of engineering? Are our technical decisions taking the right factors into account?
(3) Priorities. Are we working on the right things? Are we sufficiently focused? Have we diversified our bets? Are we investing appropriately in maintenance, testing, and technical debt?
In practice, that means I spend my days reading and talking to people so that I can evaluate how well we’re doing on these 3 things, then making adjustments as needed. I also act as an exception handler for issues managers need help with or to resolve conflicts between teams.

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