Management and Engineering at Feather in 2024

Vincent Audoire

In 2023, we used 1on1s and a classical manager/managee approach to career development for our engineering team. However, reflections on the year revealed challenges, leading us to rethink our strategy for 2024, shifting towards a mentorship model, individual career development, and a focus on personal responsibility as we continue to tailor our approach to fit our company culture.

How the engineering team was set up in 2023

Our engineering team consists of people with different seniority levels. Given the company size (~50 people, roughly 20% of it being engineering), we didn’t find it necessary to get a proper management layer yet. We thought we would require some form of management, so we decided that senior engineers would manage their peers.

We expected managers to:

  • Conduct regular 1on1s
  • Give feedback
  • Be responsible for career development
  • Be responsible for the promotion
  • Help with technical mentorship

Reflection on 2023

We realized you can’t expect engineers to act as managers and roll with it; management is way more complicated than that (duh!). We threw senior engineers on management duties without giving them the tools or training to perform that role - it didn’t work how we expected it to.

We didn’t like the dynamic a manager/managee relationship creates. Some managers felt awkward in their positions because they weren’t necessarily much further in their careers than the person they were managing.

Our team structure made it hard for managers to deliver critical feedback without investing much effort into finding what feedback to give. Our team setup is very flexible (and will be even more so in 2024 - check out Product team in 2024). A manager wasn’t guaranteed to work on the same team as the person they manage (let alone the same codebase). To give constructive feedback, the manager would need to speak with the persons working on the same project as the managee, spend time looking at the managee PRs, etc. That would take ~20% of your time per person you manage.

Moreover, the fact that managers were responsible for giving feedback jeopardized our feedback culture. We believe feedback should come from whoever, whenever, and not only from the manager.

Midway through the year, we noticed that this setup wasn’t working how we wanted. However, we realized that pairing engineers regularly is very valuable for us. The Manager/Managee relationship turned into a mentoring relationship. 

Going forward for 2024

We will not ask senior engineers to manage and conduct 1on1s anymore. What we wanted from our managers:

  1. Career development: Make sure the managee grows on seniority
  2. Yearly review: Perform yearly review and salary calibration
  3. Check-in: Regularly check on the growth, happiness, and motivation

Career development

Engineers will now be responsible for their career development. They can refer to Feather's Engineering seniority and compensation to understand what is needed to reach the next level.

We will encourage them to choose a mentor that can help them grow. We like the concept of mentors because you can easily leave a mentor but can’t leave a manager. Engineers should switch mentors according to what they are lacking (some mentors might have a strong leg in one piece of technology…) - this will require a lot of self-awareness from our engineers - something that we noticed was already the case.

Yearly review

Another crucial aspect will be to show your work - we won’t have managers preach about your achievements at the end of the year. You need to show your work. We are a remote company, and communication is incredibly important. We don’t have much water cooler communication. Instead, a few places to show proactivity are Slack, Notion, jour fixes, etc.

Areas of responsibility will become more important. They will be used to check the proactiveness of engineers.

At Feather, engineers are assigned one or more areas of responsibility. An area of responsibility is a global topic or technology - the engineer assigned to that area of responsibility is the owner of that topic. They are responsible for maintaining and developing this area, proposing solutions to upcoming problems, writing documentation, etc.

Examples of areas of responsibility: Internationalization and tooling, Website performance and SEO, Design system…


We will conduct a check-in 3 times a year with our team (every 4 months). During that time, we will check the following:

  • In terms of personal growth, does the person make progress along the seniority grid?
  • Is the person motivated by their work and project? Is it time for them to change the team to gain exposure to other technologies or areas of the company?
  • Does the person receive actionable feedback from their colleagues? Do they need guidance on what to improve on next?

Closing words

It’s always tricky to come up with your way of doing management in an organization. There is a lot of great literature on the matter, but it doesn’t necessarily apply to your company. Management is part of the company culture. And company cultures are very unique. As your company culture is unique, you must develop your recipe for management, something that will fit your company culture.

As you can see, we’re still iterating on how we are doing management. We will re-assess how this year went at the end of 2024 and adjust accordingly.

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