Getting Started with People Management

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December 1, 2020
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ne’s approach to people management can determine a team’s dynamics as well as its successes. Effective people management is particularly critical during periods of transition and change, as it empowers both leadership and team members with the confidence to work and improve together.

For those considering a long-term career in technology leadership, understanding and managing relationships is equally important as one’s ability to handle technology trends and code. This week’s ACM Select provides a shortlist that explores the soft skills and mindsets necessary to be a successful people manager in computing. These selections will provide insights into the nuances of being an effective technology leader, and the steps you can take to prepare for that journey.

As always, we invite you to share your feedback and suggestions at For more resources in computing, we encourage you to explore the ACM Digital Library and Learning Center.

Becoming an Engineering (People) Manager

As a member of the ACM Queue editorial board, Kate Matsudaira ensures that computing professionals can benefit from ACM’s educational and community resources for technology leadership. Through her articles, Kate provides her perspective on what makes for a successful engineering manager. We recommend these selections for computing professionals who are considering management as part of their long-term career goals.

The Evolution of Management: Transitioning up the ladder

First published in ACM Queue, Vol. 17, No. 3, July 22, 2019.

In this classic ACM Queue article, Kate Matsudaira shares her thoughts on transitioning through different levels of management. We recommend this article for Kate’s substantive discussion on the mindset and skills needed to be successful when growing into a new technology leadership role.

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Nine things I didn't know I would learn being an engineer manager

First published in Communications of the ACM, Vol. 59, No. 6, May 2016.

Becoming a successful engineering manager requires skills that aren’t technical at all. Kate Matsudaira pulls from her years of experience to share the surprising lessons she learned along the way.

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Design patterns for managing up

First published in Communications of the ACM, Vol. 62, No. 3, February 2019.

Navigating tricky, high-stress work situations is difficult for everyone, regardless of where they are in their career. Kate shares the design patterns (or processes) she uses to prepare for these situations and confidently handle them as they arise.

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Identifying Success, Minimizing Pain

Skills for success at different stages of an IT professional's career

First published in Communications of the ACM, Vol. 59, No. 8, July 2016.

Understanding one’s preferred mix of technical and managerial skills is critical to success: not only for oneself but also for the teams with whom one works with. This Communications of the ACM article shares the results of the 2016 IT Study Trends study conducted by the Society for Information Management (SIM), providing a snapshot of what skills are necessary to succeed as a CIO, mid-level IT professional, or a newly hired IT employee.

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People and Process: Minimizing the pain of business process change

First published in ACM Queue, Vol. 4, No. 2, March 2006.

Business process change (BPC) comprises steps and procedures an organization takes to evaluate and develop its business processes with the goals of reducing cost, improving productivity and culture, and building flexibility to respond to changes that impact the organization’s operations. Changing a business process is tough, and it requires having a clear understanding and efficient leadership to prepare for, manage and reinforce change across the board. 

In this classic ACM Queue article, business consultant, organizational theorist, and New York Times bestselling author James Champy shares his advice for how technology organizations and leaders can weather these changes with minimum pain as possible. We recommend this selection as a starting point for developing a constructive change management mindset.

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An Expert Conversation

Conversations with technology leaders: Erik Meijer

First published in Communications of the ACM, Vol. 60, No. 6, May 2017.

In this Communications of the ACM interview, Kate Matsudaira interviews Erik Meijer on what qualities make for a great engineering manager. Meijer is renowned for his technical work in functional programming and programming language design, with contributions to Haskell, C#, Visual Basic, Hack, and Dart, as well as technical leadership at Microsoft, Facebook and at his own company, Applied Duality Incorporated.

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