Putting Fear Aside While Growing Into a New Role
26 April, 2021
During a time when I was in the process of changing my career path, I was transitioning from being a technical lead to an engineering manager. As somebody with a background in development, I had grown to a senior-level position that I felt very comfortable and competent in.
Becoming an engineering manager would come with new responsibilities that I had little experience in — people management, delivery, and managing a project from a bird’s-eye perspective. I would be handing off my technical duties to my reports to some extent, which scared me.
Moving past this fear took a very long time, but, in retrospect, taking my career in this direction was the right thing to do, both for my own professional growth, as well as for the overall well-being of the company.
Coming to this conclusion meant stepping back and taking the more business-minded aspect of my role into consideration. I had to put my own feelings about what my contribution should entail aside, thinking more about where my work would leverage the greatest amount of positive impact for the people around me. Were my talents best utilized as a technician, or as a manager?
At the time, I was working with many highly-skilled technicians and few managers. Recognizing this deficit helped me to overcome the apprehension that I felt about learning something new. For the first time, I was thinking like a businesswoman, more in-tune with the big picture. That’s the type of strategic thinking that will help you make the correct choice.
- Thinking critically about the needs of the organization as a whole, as well as the needs of my peers, reports, and managers, will illuminate the path ahead. What do they need the most? A tech lead, a developer, or a leader who takes a genuine interest in the goals of the company?
- I learned to take a results-driven approach. Instead of thinking about what your next move will be, you instead focus on the eventual result that your actions will have on the company. This will help you recognize what you need to do.
- Focusing on the goals of the company will give you metrics for success that you will be able to rely upon. It gives your team something to focus on and to strive for in their work. The metrics themselves will depend fully on who you happen to be working for. The immediate goals of my development team, for example, was to avoid crashes in the program. This will differ from the goals of the growth unit; for them, success involves the outreach, onboarding, and retention of PicsArt users. Both of these results serve the organization as a whole; the direction that you give individually must be specific to their place in the overall hierarchy of needs.
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