Promoted: Now What? Engineer's Management Maze

Promoted: Now What? Engineer's Management Maze

So you became a people manager, congrats! You likely got here because you're good with people (not always the case though), and you're probably an awesome engineer too. You code in your sleep, mentor your peers, discuss new technology - a constant overachiever whose work has made an impact.

But now you're a people manager. What is this?

Little formal training - you're dropped in the deep end. You thought it was a good idea initially, but then realized your success is no longer fully in your own hands. Your deliverables will come from others, not your own work. You need to understand everything, provide technical guidance, etc...but let's face it, you don't have time for coding anymore.

You get your first project and are confident. You can build things in your sleep! You've got a few engineers, a nice timeline - easy peasy. You overpromise...

Then the complexities of reality hit. Something in your perfect system fails. You feel the pressure and start micromanaging, obsessing over every detail. The responsibility ultimately falls on you as the manager if this fails. If it succeeds, you have to give them the credit. What a strange job this is!

It seems like everyone is watching you like a cheetah, waiting to pounce if you slip up. The spotlight is on you and all eyes are judging your every move.

Panic sets in. You send them all home and jump into the code yourself to save the project. You feel accomplished, but you've failed your team by doing their job. You did maybe 50% of a manager's responsibilities (not going to argue the exact percentage here) but the point is you failed your people.

You've read every article about empathetic leadership, strategic vision, communication, conflict resolution, developing talent. But how do you measure these soft skills? As an engineer you want defined inputs and outputs. What have you gotten yourself into? Cue losing sleep over it.

Take a breather - Remember you got here because you deserve it. This is a new skill that will take time to develop. Reach out to your network, read, connect with your team, be honest. Learning something new is exciting, and remember you got this role because you've proven you deserve it.