February 24, 2017
So you became an engineering manager from a senior engineer. Congratulations and welcome to possibly the hardest change in your career. Everything is going to change — the way you defined yourself so far, your evaluation, your goals, the length of your work’s feedback loop. Now you start learning again, this time not the next tech stack or framework but something completely different. You’ll learn about people, their motivations, their pains, their unique perception of the world. You’ll learn some politics for sure, whether you like it or not. You’ll learn how to be there for others, how to be a servant leader. From time to time, you will fail. You’ll get tired in ways you never imagined before. You’ll get frustrated about the long feedback loops your work has. There will be days when you’ll want to get back to coding, you’ll want it bad.
Let me restate all the above: engineering management is not the natural advancement of an engineer’s career path: it’s an alternative track. It does help (a lot) to become senior engineers first, mostly due to the experience you gain during that journey about meta-topics in engineering and it also helps your communication as a manager with your engineers, but engineering management is something entirely different.
Try this instead: every time you feel the urge to write code, instead spend the time reading or learning something related to management. Everyone who manages people will have favorite books, blogs, or speakers so just ask a peer or two for some material to get started. Heck, I’ll even recommend an awesome book right now — The three levels of leadership
Written by Csaba Okrona who lives and works in Berlin leading an amazing engineering team @ Contentful. You should follow him on Twitter