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Understanding the Difference Between Working as a Technician and Working as a Manager

Vishal Verma

Engineering Manager at Netflix

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Problem

Since switching to management, I’ve come to realize how different leading others is compared to my more technically-minded role before. The traditional view is that you do good work, and, when you reach a senior level position, you step into those shoes in order to better serve others.

Now, having done so myself, I can’t help but to think that this approach is wrong. It’s an entirely different job. If you don’t have training in management, it tends to not work out well.

Actions taken

I now devote a lot of energy into improving in this area, trying not to rest on my laurels day-to-day. You need to understand people and their motivations, what brings a group together and why some people decide to take on a certain line of work. What is each individual looking to get out of their position?

Bringing a team together yourself in order to achieve a goal is a skill all on its own. There is a technical know-how about it to be acquired. My own personal style tends to be more mission-focused. If you have a clearly-defined mission, like-minded people will latch on easily. It then becomes much easier to motivate them forward. Obviously, the world is not always so simple. We may think that we understand a mission, but the goal exists on many different levels.

Lessons learned

  • It’s never about getting people together and telling them what to do. At my company, we really do stress the importance of changing the world positively. If you’re able to describe some way of doing this clearly, it inspires the people working with you.
  • When you lead in this way, people take on responsibilities that often go unsaid. Being there every day just to tell people what to do is a leadership style that does not scale. If your intentions are clear and good, your team will fall into place naturally. They will do the right thing and use their best judgement.

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Vishal Verma

Engineering Manager at Netflix


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