Developing Managers Internally

Mihai Fonoage

VP, Engineering at ModMed



"My team had grown to a point that it was obvious that I needed to hire new managers to help me out. Identifying, evaluating and growing people to become managers is crucial, because they are essential to the success of their teams and, ultimately, to the success of the company. It can be difficult to ensure you grow managers in the right way, but it's very important to get it right."

Actions taken

"It was very important for me to have managers who could speak the technical language. Engineering management isn't just about people management, it's also about knowing technical aspects. The people you manage will relate to you more if they know you can speak their language. Because of this, I started out by identifying which technical leads would also have an inclination towards management in terms of effective communication and being willing to listen to their engineers."

After identifying the technical leads that fit this profile, I began mentoring and coaching them. I did this in several ways:

  • I observed them communicating in a variety of settings, made notes based on this, and then provided them with feedback based on my observations. This is useful, as I was able to highlight correct behaviors but could also discuss how the potential managers could handle things differently in the future.
  • I provided feedback through one-on-ones. This provided the manager and me with an opportunity to meet together and come up with ways to mitigate problems.
  • I had the managers shadow me and had them come along to some of my meetings, so they could be exposed to conversations and interactions that would help them to learn and grow.
  • We set up a management and leadership book club. We meet once a week in a small group setting and discuss the various chapters or sections of the current leadership book that we are reading. This lets us cover topics such as motivation, management, leadership, and emotional intelligence.
  • My company invested in the managers by providing them with in-house training. We bring in different experts who will then provide our new managers with training.

Lessons learned

"When I became a manager I didn't have the skills necessary to have the impact that I wanted to. Through a lot of time and investment, but also mistakes and failures, I then learned about how to be a manager. However, it also taught me about how best to invest in managers to put them on the right path to succeed.

"People don't usually leave their jobs, they leave their managers."

"Some technical leads ultimately recognized that they could provide more value in a technical role than a managerial role - that's okay too. By investing in your managers and ensuring they enjoy their role, everybody else has a much higher chance of succeeding, leading to a better chance of your company succeeding, and happier customers."

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Mihai Fonoage

VP, Engineering at ModMed

Engineering LeadershipLeadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyDecision MakingCulture DevelopmentEngineering ManagementMentorship ProgramsPerformance ReviewsFeedback Techniques

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