What has changed since i became a manager

Like thousands of other software engineers i took the step to management. From the beginning on, it was clear to me that it is about a completley different job. Now and after 18 months i can write a few lines describing the changes which i had to face.

Taking this step, i was aware about the fact that the new job requires different skills, and that applying the same approaches and methodologies will not bring me the desired success as a manager.

There are three areas, where i observed the most impact on the way i do my work: Time Management, Context Switching and Rewarding System.

Time Management

Planning and managing your time is essential for every job. Beside hanging for hours on solving this damned programming task, as a software engineer you also need to go to those annoying agile meetings, answer that important email and deal with some “could you please” requests.

Working as engineering manager, this problem takes a new level of complexity. Since i am not anymore only responsible for my work but for the work of a whole team, the methods i am using have to be different.

I realised that i needed to put more effort organizing my calendar and planning my working day.
I started to do a weekly time planning with daily adjustments. On Sunday evening i plan the known tasks of the whole week. I try to block my calendar for those task and make it clear for everyone that i am busy in this time. At the end of each working day i adjust the calendar of the next day according to the new priority.

For example, i used to block Thursdays for people. On this day i prepare and execute the one on one meetings with my team members.
My Fridays are blocked as a technology/coding days. I spend those days in having a look at the code and understanding the changes in the code bases and sometimes to write a few lines of code.

Nevertheless, unpredictability and unpredictable tasks are characteristic for this job, an outage in production or a blocker in the delivery process will not tell you in advance at sunday evening that they are coming.

Context switching

The work as a software developer is mostly organized around technology and coding. Moving to the middle management adds more areas of focus like people and process.

Jumping from a salary negotiation of one team member to helping in making a complicated technical decision to resolving a blocker in the process and then jumping back to discuss the development plan of another team member. This almost daily journey requires jumping between different skills where different areas of the brain are involved.

This back and forth switching is demanding and unfortunately, can not be avoided in such a job. Though, methods like blocking a whole day for important topics like team and technology could help with reducing the context switching.

The rewarding system

Write a piece of software, assure that it does what you want, write a unit test, the test runs green, commit and happily go home.

Rewarding yourself as a manager is not that easy. Almost everything that you do has a middle or long term impact, which turns slowly into success (or failure).
Often while you are solving the one problem you can see other problems coming in, this could massively reduce your feeling of achievement.

In order to increase my awareness of achievement and satisfy my rewarding system, i introduced monthly, quarterly and yearly reviews in which i capture the work and the success that i have made in those periods.

Endnote

Making the move from an engineer to a manager is not an easy decision and should be carefully considered. It is about solving different kind of problems than the ones you face as software engineer. While working as a software engineers requires a high IQ, working as a manager requires a high EQ (Emotional Intelligence).

2 thoughts on “What has changed since i became a manager

  1. Pascal Gomolka

    Hi Iyad,
    really nice article. Thanks for your insights and challenges you are faced in your daily work.

    Wish you all the best 🙂

    Pascal

    Reply

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