Becoming the Manager Who Makes a Difference
Director at Salesforce
Initially, I joined my company as a developer, transitioning to a technical lead and becoming the Scrum master of my team. After eventually progressing to management, I was actually relegated back to being an IC after an organizational restructuring.
It was really hard at the time. I realized that I needed to take more control of my career and my life. I tried to work again as a developer only, but it really was not for me. I loved the feeling of managing a team. I missed the sense of ownership and having some say in the strategic direction of the work being done. That was the area that I wanted to explore more.
Things like these happen when you’re working for a larger organization. It’s important to take your own growth into your own hands. I ended up interviewing with another team, eventually becoming their new manager. There was no looking back.
When I think about myself six or seven years back, I was unsure about whether or not I was cut out to be a manager. To be an IC and to be a manager are two very different roles. It’s not like you will take on managerial duties in addition to your current responsibilities. The jobs are totally different. You own different areas of the projects that you do together.
The best way to go about it is to be honest with yourself. You need to try them both out. I can give advice, but until you actually step into that role and have people reporting for you, it can be difficult to explain what it’s actually like. You are responsible for the well-being and the delivery of the project as a whole, not merely your own individual piece of the puzzle.
There are lots of tools and resources available to those interested in moving away from development and moving more toward a role in leadership. There are books on management that will take you through the differences and speed up your process of learning. Things that have taken me ten years to learn could have been acquired in a week if I would have had those resources available to me.
The initial transition was very stressful for me. When you have strong personalities on your team, you need to manage them effectively. Create that solution network. Getting that help from others is crucial. Everybody goes through this. I always work on creating this network, both within the company and outside of the organization.
- Being a people manager creates a whole new set of responsibilities. You end up in a lot of different situations that you will never see as an IC.
- Sometimes, it may take you years to really know which area and what type of career will truly make you happy. We do best when we are energized by the work that we are doing and the people who we are surrounded by. Finding that balance for yourself is so important. You may need to try different things in order to find the right fit.
- Be there for your people. Be present during meetings. The more that you do this, the more that your team will respect you. I love to organize things. I love to bring different departments together, talking to people and preparing us all for a delivery. I find this to be so much more gratifying than coding outright. Bring the vision to the team. More questions. Fewer statements.
Connect and Learn with the Best Eng Leaders
We will send you a weekly newsletter with new mentors, circles, peer groups, content, webinars,bounties and free events.