According to Matt Davies Stockton, the opportunity to become a manager on your team is quite enticing. It comes with a pay-upgrade and more responsibilities. However, it is also important to understand the expectations of that role. Let’s figure out if you should jump at the first opportunity to become a manager.
1. You need to offer technical guidance –
All engineering managers were technical at some point in their careers. However, their expertise levels differ drastically, and few have a staff engineer’s expertise. In big companies, new managers often fail to understand the engineer’s struggle in their team when they aren’t expected to contribute to code.
While engineering managers aren’t expected to be the tech lead, they are expected to be technical enough to debug issues with the team when things aren’t working out. A manager also needs to understand the technical direction of the team and work with the tech lead in certain scenarios.
2. Product or project management –
While there are a few companies that assign you the role of project manager and get you certified through a PMP or CSM course, this approach rarely benefits the team. The “professionals” who get certified by such courses are often too theoretical and fail to meet the team’s needs.
Instead, engineering managers who are passionate enough to seek help from an agile coach with a senior position in the company bring more agile approaches to the team. They also groom their team to work flexibly with other teams within and outside the organization.
Setting up agile processes for your team while preparing them for cross-team projects brings you more practical experience without the certification. That’s why you need to make sure that you develop the insights before taking up the manager role.
You also need to make sure that you’re not forcing agile “best practices” on your team to create unnecessary frustration and friction in the team. On the other hand, smaller companies without a designated product team may expect managers to help shape a product with the sales team, CEO, and other people in the organization.
3. People skills –
The main requirement of a manager is his or her people skills and management style. That’s why MBA programs often conduct personality tests to find a new blueprint for unique management styles. As a manager, you need to work on team alignment, resolve your team’s conflicts, boost their morale and be their coach or mentor.
You’ll need to conduct regular 1:1s with your team members and just because a solution works for one, it doesn’t mean it would work for the entire team. So, if you take up the managerial role, you need to be prepared for that.
Matt Davies Stockton suggests that you assess if you have the people management skills and if you can offer technical guidance to your team when necessary. Many senior and well-performing engineers are thrown into the managerial role with little to no guidance and that’s why it’s important to choose a gradual transition path.