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

🔥

Back to resources

Learning to Step Back as a Manager

Coaching / Training / Mentorship
New Manager

17 September, 2021

Alexey Novak
Alexey Novak

Director of Engineering at Rose Rocket

Alexey Novak, Director of Engineering at Rose Rocket, articulates the key differences between performing as an IC and leading ICs as a manager.

Problem

Most engineers who go on to become managers were usually superstars in their field before being promoted out of it. They are usually the most knowledgeable engineers in the department, but the best engineer does not always amount to the best manager.

Despite this, companies will often fall into this pattern, not necessarily without good reason. The inclination for engineers to always want to solve everything in front of them translates well to the role. However, the mindset does tend to hinder their ability to delegate.

They say that if you want something done right, you need to do it yourself. These types of managers feel the trust of the company weighing heavily upon them and do not want to fall short of expectations. However, this is obviously not a sustainable way of working if you are part of a large organization.

Actions taken

In a general sense, I try to be accommodating to people. “Let me help you here. What else can I do for you?” But this can be problematic as a team grows. You cannot physically do every single job yourself, even if you want to. It’s like being an overbearing parent, always doing everything for your children and preventing them from learning and developing those new skills on their own.

There is a phrase: a manager who sucks all of the oxygen out of the room. When you take every task and responsibility for yourself, there is nothing left for anybody else. A good role model for the type of manager you want to be is a sports coach. You never see the coach playing on the field with everybody else; they’re on the sidelines, working with their team.

It’s likely that the coach was a very talented player in the past, but now their efforts are being focused elsewhere. They point out when they see somebody struggling or out of line. They help each player improve their form and performance. The coach shows them how it’s done, only to step away so that they may do it themselves.

This is what the manager should be doing. They give bits of advice to everybody. They coach them so that they may find success themselves on the field. There can be many outside forces influencing each player, and it’s your job to keep your team focused on the game. You don’t need to micromanage them. You just need to always be providing that constant supply of support as they produce and excel.

Lessons learned

  • Delegation solves a lot of problems. You deprive people from opportunities to grow by doing everything yourself.
  • Managers should seek uninterrupted work for their team, yet the world of business is full of interruptions. There are product managers, there is a roadmap, always something else. You need to be able to shield your people from these distractions.
  • In a world where things are constantly changing, you, as a manager, need to be flexible. In order to maintain this flexibility, you need to be willing to experiment. Try doing stand-ups or retrospectives differently. Plan your sprint differently. Find the way that works best for you and your team - what works for one team might not work for another.

Discover Plato

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


Related stories

Preparing Your Team for the Remote Workplace

29 November

Vadim Antonov, Engineering Manager at Meta, dictates how he brought a brand new team into the remote learning process by ramping up onboarding and creating a mentor system.

Alignment
Remote
Internal Communication
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Data Team
Cross-Functional Collaboration
Vadim Antonov

Vadim Antonov

Engineering Manager at Facebook

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

Overcoming Constraints Through Creative Thinking

23 November

Neelima Annam, Sr Director Information Technology at Outmatch, recalls a time when she had to use non-conventional methods to train her team.

Different Skillsets
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Neelima Annam

Neelima Annam

Sr. Director Information Technology at Outmatch HCM

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

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.