Back to resources

Congratulations you're an Engineering Manager! Now What?

Leadership
Transitioning into a New Management Role

29 July, 2022

AJ St. Aubin
AJ St. Aubin

Director Software Engineering at The RepTrak Company

Congratulations, you have just been promoted to an engineering management role. Once you are done celebrating the promotion you have worked hard to earn you might start to ask yourself, now what do I do?

Congratulations, you have just been promoted to an engineering management role. Once you are done celebrating the promotion you have worked hard to earn you might start to ask yourself, now what do I do? For me this set in pretty quickly when I took on my first leadership role. You get the sense that people are looking to you now for decisions and direction, but you have no idea where to start. For many this part of management can be overwhelming, isolating, and directionless. Many companies lack management training programs and your boss is probably so busy they do not realize that you need a hand.

So what can you do to help yourself be successful in this new role?

Start with acceptance

To start, accept that you are new again. You are an entry level manager most likely and just like when you were a new engineer you need to learn. You have the benefit of technical experience to help hold you over technically. Now you need to learn how to lead, build teams, manage people, and act as a multiplier for your team. Accepting that you are starting at zero will help you grow to meet the challenges ahead of you.

Assess you abilities

Take a moment to look inward and try to be honest with yourself. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Someone saw something in you and thought you would be a good leader and manager. What are the strengths that they saw in you? What are your weaknesses? Make lists, journal, or use whatever method works for you to help find focus.

Learn, learn, learn!

Once you are able to accept that you are new and have a lot to learn you can start making a plan for how to grow to meet your new challenges. Take your preferred method of learning and look for material that works best for you. We all have different ways of learning and absorbing material. For me it is reading, watching recorded talks on leadership, and online courses. There are so many ways to learn that someone has most likely produced quality content that will help you grow.

Start with an Overview

I always like to recommend that new managers take a look at general material on leadership and management to start. The two books that are currently at the top of my list are Managing Humans and The Manager's Path. I recommend these two books because they have an easy to read format, will be valuable to use as references throughout your time as a manager, and can be read in bursts over your first 6-12 months. Both of these books will help you build a foundational understanding of how to manage with a strong technical leadership focus.

Dig Into deeper topics

Once you have read up on general engineering management look for courses or other learning material that can help you improve on the areas you feel the most challenged. I personally took courses on business communications and how to build high functioning teams. The important thing here is that you keep learning and building your toolset. As an engineer you were expected to learn new tools, languages, and architectures on a regular basis. Now as a manager you will need to apply a similar mindset to learning how to communicate, build a strong team, and build a strategy that will have your team delivering exceptional value.

Don’t forget your peers

The last step I want to highlight here is just as important as the others. Get to know your peers and find those you can rely on and learn from. Being a manager can be incredibly lonely. It will also require you to coordinate projects with others and the more comfortable you are collaborating with your peers the easier your job will be. Try to learn their strengths and then work together to make a stronger team. Working with your peers will give you a team and a place to go when you have questions or just need feedback and tips on how to approach your current management challenge.

At the end of the day your personal success will hinge on your ability to learn quickly, adapt, communicate, and collaborate with other leaders.

https://blog.ajstaubin.com/congratulations-youre-an-engineering-manager-now-what/

Discover Plato

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


Related stories

4 E's of Leadership

21 March

A short overview of a very effective leadership assessment by Jack Welch, that is easily transferred to other industries is the 4Es of leadership – energy, energize, edge, and execution.

Leadership
Career Growth
Strategy and Vision
Ramesh Dewangan

Ramesh Dewangan

CEO at Quantum Vision Consulting

Performing Focused Work in a Distracted World

21 March

Based on an awesome book titled "Deep Work" by Cal Newport we provide provide a brief overview of the Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World.

Leadership
Productivity
Communication and Collaboration
Ramesh Dewangan

Ramesh Dewangan

CEO at Quantum Vision Consulting

Beware the Empathy Trap

21 March

Is it possible to be too empathetic? If you overdo it, it can be an energy sucker.

Leadership
Conflict Resolution
Team Management
Managing Stress and Burnout
Melanie Zens

Melanie Zens

Delivery & Operations / Digital Transformation / Innovation at Marais Consulting Inc

Applying The Rules of IKIGAI for a more fulfilled life!

20 March

Learn about 10 rules from the wisdom of these long-living residents from Ogimi, a small village in Okinawa, Japan. You could interpret the rules as the lifestyle habits that enable the senior residents of Ogami to live long and enjoy their ikigai.

Leadership
Productivity
Career Growth
Communication and Collaboration
Hiring, Retaining, or Firing
Managing Stress and Burnout
Ramesh Dewangan

Ramesh Dewangan

CEO at Quantum Vision Consulting

Relationships, like products, need to be designed.

7 March

3 ways leaders can cultivate relationships that lead to better products.

Leadership
Building and Scaling Teams
Career Growth
Team Management
Strategy and Vision
Guy Jenkins

Guy Jenkins

SVP Global Customer Experience at Salesforce