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Soft Skills Offer a Smooth Transition from IC to Management

Career Path
New Manager
Personal growth
Building a Team
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Different Skillsets
Company Culture

9 February, 2019

Vijay Kothandaraman, senior director of engineering at VMware, opens up about how management is largely defined by people skills and how one uses them to achieve team goals. Advice that he wishes others do not have to learn the hard way as he once did.

Problem

I was streamlined into the manager position without proper mentorship when i transitioned from IC to Manager. Since i knew the team and the product really well, I wasn't feeling challenged enough as a manager, or that I had the right tools to take pride in this role.

Actions take

I decided to work for a new company, as a manager, in order to discover what skill sets were truly needed to bring to the table and likewise, what was still necessary for me to learn.

Lessons learned

  • As an IC you are evaluated on what you do as an engineer, most of which is under your control. When you move to management however, it is no longer about you. It becomes more about bringing the team together and enabling them by getting the best out of each individual. This is not a technical skill you can bring with you, but rather a soft skill you will have to learn to survive management.
  • Getting the best out of each engineer is an art or skill set that you need to develop. Receiving mentorship early on will help the transition.
  • Management is all about people, with the main goal being that the sum of all parts should be greater than the individual.
  • Get the trust of your engineers. Learn to be sounded by the people who are smarter than you, receiving them, rather than feeling intimidated.
  • Discover the strengths and weaknesses of each individual on your team. Use their strengths to build the team and the company.

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