It’s definitely a hard transition going from engineer to manager. What’s even harder is managing the team of which you were once a member. Just yesterday, you and your peers are commiserating about how much of an ass your boss is being. Today, you are the
ass boss. This post highlights five super important things that I’ve learned since moving into my new management gig.
Just like it says on the cover of the book – don’t panic. There’s a reason why you are in this position. Someone clearly thought you have potential to be a good manager. Maybe you demonstrated solid leadership. Maybe you are great at getting shit done. The bottom line is this: You are here now so keep on doing whatever it is that got you to this point and everything will be OK.
Be in Control
Establish your authority, quickly. This is important: make sure it is YOU that is in control of the team. You need to recognize the difference between someone helping you and someone undermining your authority. Here’s a hint: If your gut tells you that someone is stepping on your toes, then listen to your gut. Chances are your toes are being crushed. Nip that in the bud immediately otherwise be prepared to deal with people going around you for a long time. Set the tone early and continue to do so, but exercise some caution: there’s a fine line between manager and dick-tator.
Schedule routine one on one meetings with everyone on your team. Establish the employee-manager relationship early. Talk with your team about their short-term and long-term goals, training, job satisfaction, and most importantly – ask them how they are doing. Then shut up and listen to what they are saying. Don’t interrupt them and if they ask you something, keep the answer brief and don’t ramble on. If you do start to ramble on, you need to recognize that the conversation just went from being about your employee to about you. Now you need to immediately turn it around and get them re-engaged. It’s ok to share war stories but do that after you get through all of the important stuff.
Remember Your Roots
Now that you are a manager, you’ll have no time to actually DO the technical work. This is a hard, hard habit to break. You will have the urge to do technical things from time to time. You need to be careful with this one because doing technical work is no longer your job – it’s your team’s job. However, you should keep up with the tech and try to get some lab time in every now and then. If that’s not possible, sit in on some technical design discussions with your team. Not only will this satisfy your burning desire to tinker with shit, but it will help you retain those technical chops that you spent years honing.
Let It Be
This is an easy yet super critical one – just let it be. Let your team do what they do best and get the hell out of their way. If you get the urge to “fix” something, don’t. The minute you start tweaking your team’s recipe for success, you instantly become “that guy.” Nobody likes that guy because he micromanages the hell out of things. Don’t be a micromanager, let your team be successful. If you are annoyed because your team is at the park with the MiFi working on stuff while soaking in some beautiful weather and you are stuck in the office…too bad. Get over it. Or go to the park and join them. After all, you are the boss…