Plato Elevate Winter Summit has been announced (Dec 7th-8th)

🔥

Back to resources

Becoming a Manager: My Three-Step Journey

Personal Growth
Career Path
New Manager

28 May, 2021

Ehsan Imran
Ehsan Imran

Engineering Manager at thinkmoney

Ehsan Imran, Engineering Manager at thinkmoney, speaks of his efforts to best prepare for his transition to a manager role.

Problem

I worked in tech in various roles for more than ten years. I started off in consumer technology and sales and then went into app support and diagnosing problems for large manufacturers. Finally, I got into software development, where I wrote code and developed features. As a software developer, my main goal was to develop high quality features and ship them quickly . Throughout the organisations that I have worked for I have always taken an active role in mentoring and coaching those around me and it was apparent that I was good at coaching and leading.

That made me realize how happy I was, seeing others do well. The passion for coaching people and helping them out was always inside me. It seems that I have an inherent affinity for coaching people and helping them excel in what they do. I also took great pride in getting people to think beyond code and more towards the commercial benefits of what they were working on. As soon as the role of a team lead became available, I applied for the position. By that time, I was certain that I should pursue a management path and would make a great fit for the role.

Actions taken

Am I the right person for the role?

Though the passion for coaching people was always there, I was somewhat hesitant at first. What I found to be helpful was conducting a thorough self-assessment. I did a personal SWOT analysis to identify my strengths and weaknesses and created a personal development plan. That reassured me and gave me confidence while at the same time helped me map out areas for improvement.

Light-touch mentorship within the organization

I started talking to EMs across the organization, benefiting from this light-touch mentoring. Talking to people in the EM role from the same organization allowed me to grasp the role in a more contextualized sense. The roles and responsibilities of an EM vary a great deal from one organization to another. Some organizations want their EMs to stay technical and hands-on, writing code with a team; others prefer them to become detached from technical work and focused on the people management. It’s always useful to find out how your particular organization perceives the EM role and understand if that aligns with where you see yourself going.

Through mentoring, I also got a more objective picture of my competencies and the areas I needed to improve.

Taking the delegation route

I had a good and candid relationship with my manager, and frequent catch-ups with them allowed me to get firsthand insights into an EM role. That helped me to gradually tap into some of the work they did. I would approach them, ask if I could help, and have them assign me projects matching my skill level. Over time, I became more competent and able to get a broader understanding of what would wait for me in my new role. However, that is something one can do only when they are competent and confident enough. Therefore, only when you are excelling in your current job should you ask for some additional responsibilities.

Perception plays a critical role in promotion. I wanted to be perceived as someone who is capable, competent, and confident, so when I would land that role, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to my peers or anyone else. Instead, people should be acceptive, unanimously agreeing that they could see that coming.

Lessons learned

  • Transition into a manager role is all about a mindset shift. Once you become a manager, your accomplishments become your team’s accomplishments. How well your team performs reflects how well you do as a manager.
  • Some people will miss writing code and getting into the weeds of technical problems. You should overcome that ‘missing out’ feeling and feel confident when stepping back. Great managers will grow great engineers who could be more technically competent. If you think that things are not up to the standard, you can jump in and help with some coaching. But don’t be overwhelmed with the idea that you have to stay technically hands-on writing code.
  • Focus on value. Delegate what can be delegated and focus on things where you can bring the most value. As you once grew by being delegated projects, so will your reports. In general, you can spend your time better than writing code.
  • Learn about conflict resolution and emotional intelligence. A large part of your role will include helping your team members overcome conflict, having difficult conversations, etc. Learn to show empathy and share your vulnerabilities, which one can acquire only through regular practice.
  • Approach management as a coach, not as a manager. Find out what the best leadership style is to get the most from the team. Then, grow along with the team. Figure out their needs and adjust accordingly -- would they benefit more from a directive, hand-holding approach or a more servant leadership type of leadership.

Discover Plato

Scale your coaching effort for your engineering and product teams
Develop yourself to become a stronger engineering / product leader


Related stories

How to Strengthen Your Team Pitch

29 November

Vadim Antonov, Engineering Manager at Meta, details his journey to improve his personal hiring process and team pitch.

Alignment
Personal Growth
Hiring
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Changing Company
Vadim Antonov

Vadim Antonov

Engineering Manager at Facebook

Delegate successfully as a first time manager of Product Managers

24 November

Andrew Tsui, a Product Leader, works to build great teams that are independent, demonstrate mastery of their domain, and fully commit to their purpose.

Scaling Team
Building A Team
Delegate
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Psychological Safety
Cross-Functional Collaboration
New Manager
Andrew Tsui

Andrew Tsui

Director of Product at Startup

Building trust as a new Manager

23 November

Neelima Annam, Sr Director Information Technology at Outmatch, shares her insight into her growth path of evolving her management style to build trust.

Alignment
Personal Growth
Conflict Solving
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
New Manager
Neelima Annam

Neelima Annam

Sr. Director Information Technology at Outmatch HCM

What it takes to become a great product manager

19 November

James Engelbert, Head of Product at BT, shares his deep understanding of the traits of a successful product manager and how to get aligned with the organization’s path to success.

Product Team
Personal Growth
Leadership
Strategy
James Engelbert

James Engelbert

Head of Product at BT

Building a Long-Lasting Career Infrastructure Using Ikigai Principles

16 November

Albert Lie, former Founding Engineer and Tech Lead at Xendit, shares his annual performance review process implementing principles from the Ikigai framework into regular check-ins.

Alignment
Scaling Team
Personal Growth
Meetings
Motivation
Albert Lie

Albert Lie

Former Tech Lead at Xendit

You're a great engineer.
Become a great engineering leader.

Plato (platohq.com) is the world's biggest mentorship platform for engineering managers & product managers. We've curated a community of mentors who are the tech industry's best engineering & product leaders from companies like Facebook, Lyft, Slack, Airbnb, Gusto, and more.