Moving from being an IC to being a manager

Jacob White

Director Web Development at Caleres, Inc.



"I made a transition at my current company from being an individual contributor to becoming a manager. When you take on additional responsibilities, sometimes you can be seen as the bad guy, and managers are often seen as the people who don't actually do any real work. Because of this, being promoted to the role of manager was a really difficult step. I was being asked to stop doing the work I loved, that I felt was more impactful and valuable, while also feeling like I was joining the darkside."

Actions taken

"At first, I didn't accept the responsibility of management and kept doing the same work I used to do. If I had some reviews to do I would do them at the last minute. I had four direct reports and I just acted if I was the most senior member of the team, and worked to fix their mistakes. The value of supervision is leveraging an environment that encourages shared output. However, I was only working on my output. Then, one day, I was watching the 'Petit Prince' and there was a real emphasis on the business man being the bad man, which really bothered me. So I set out to try to understand what the purpose of management was. Most books talk about 'how to manage' but not about why it is important. The book 'High Output Management' by Andrew Grove was a real eye opener for me, and helped me to change my perspective, by breaking down the purpose of management and by discussing how you can ensure you are an effective manager. The book argues that the role of managers is to create the best environment possible to ensure everyone is working in the best conditions. The manager is also the only one having an overall vision of the work being done by the team, and able to fill the gaps."

Lessons learned

"As a manager, while you might not be developing code, you are developing processes and environment. It's just the creations are softer and more abstract. The benefit of having this role is that you can create an environment for others where you would like to work. Your role is to catalyze your team's' efficiency."

Notes: "High Output Management" - Link to the book

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Jacob White

Director Web Development at Caleres, Inc.

Leadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyCulture DevelopmentEngineering ManagementPerformance ReviewsFeedback TechniquesCareer GrowthCareer ProgressionSkill Development

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