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Advice for Engineers as First Time Managers

Career Path
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
New Manager
Personal growth

18 January, 2019

Neetika Bansal, engineering manager at Stripe, serves up some helpful insight for engineers making the transition to a managerial role. She targets many of the questions that new engineers are continuously asking in their plight to be a better manager.

Problem

There are a lot of questions that arise when switching from an engineering role to that of a manager. Am I making the right choice? Will I be good as a manager? How do I measure my impact? How technical can I remain as a manager? Will I be supported? The list goes on, but ultimately, it comes down to the individual experiences you encounter as a first-time manager.

Actions taken

  • Develop a personal understanding of what the job should be like, where you will be spending the majority of your time, and what your visible strengths are.
  • Analyze what this new challenge means to you in terms of excitement. Draw a line down the board, highlighting the differences in positions. Identify what excites you and what doesn't.
  • Make your technical decisions through scoping.
  • Aim towards having a high performing team where you are able to recognize and handle performance management issues as well as discover opportunities for people under you.
  • Use your manager as a mentor for the more tactical questions you may encounter.
  • If you are feeling too comfortable or stagnant in the position, take the time to discuss, with your manager, the options of growing your team or taking on more challenges.
  • Take opportunities to build trust with your team by giving them credit where it is due.
  • Encourage your team to participate in feedback and think about how they can be doing more.

Lessons learned

  • Do not put too much pressure on yourself as you decide whether or not you made the right choice in transitioning to this new role. There is no right or wrong answer in making your decision. With such a high demand for both IC's and managers, the decision does not have to be set in stone. It is fairly easy to transition back if you truly find yourself not enjoying the position.
  • Understand what the role entails.
  • Analyzing where the excitement lies for you within the new manager role will ultimately help narrow down your decision-making process.
  • Scoping should be the extent of your technical contribution to the team. As you grow in this position, your tech leads will take over the discussions about technical decisions. You will be there more as a guide and facilitator rather than in a designer format.
  • As a manager, you should value and judge your work through the execution of the team.
  • Despite advice and mentorship, the bulk of your learning will stem from personal experiences that you'll have to work through to know how to handle future situations.
  • It is better to embark on the journey as a first time manager in a company where you have enough support.
  • The aspect of ownership as a manager comes from making sure the team has all the resources they need to be successful.
  • Feedback from your team can help you measure your own success.

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