I’ve recently started in my first role as a manager! I recognize that this isn’t just a promotion from being an individual contributor (IC) - it’s a separate career path, and it requires a different way of working. As a new manager, I want to learn from the experiences and expertise of other managers! So last week, I asked a question on Twitter: Tech managers, what is something you wish you’d done differently in your early manager roles?
I got so many great responses! It was very cool to see how many managers out there took the time to share some advice, or even congratulate me and wish me luck. I spent a lot of time reading through the replies, and it was also really neat to see how the replies lent themselves to a handful of themes: culture, support & self-care, what it means to actually be a manager, and managing people effectively. One-on-one meetings was also a big theme, but that is more easily boiled down to:
- schedule your 1:1s
- don’t cancel your 1:1s
- never ever say “let’s chat” with no warning and no agenda.
But what about those other themes? There’s a lot to unpack there, and I really want to try and capture my understanding of them through the advice that was shared. I want this article to act as a reminder for myself as I’m getting started, but also as a resource to share for other managers in tech. Instead of having one enormous article, I’m going to use this as a jumping-off point. I think this will be a great way to introduce the advice and themes at a high-level, and be able to dive deeper into each theme with more consideration in subsequent articles.
This means the culture you create for your people and your teams as a manager. What sort of environment do you want to work in? What culture are you building? What are your values, and how do you communicate them?
Whether you’re a brand-new manager or have been doing it for years, you can benefit from the advice and support of other people doing the same thing as you. It helps to have people to bounce ideas off of, troubleshoot challenges, and celebrate your wins with you. Having what Lara Hogan calls a manager Voltron can help you build your best manager self. At the same time, you need to take care of your human self so you can be your best manager self.
What even is this job? What do you… do all day? Switching careers from an IC to a manager means understanding what your responsibilities are now, and what success looks like.
Speaking of your responsibilities as a manager… learning how to effectively manage people is important! Whether it’s our own time as a manager or being managed, we all have experiences that range from fantastic to benign neglect to actively terrible. How do you get closer to the fantastic side of the spectrum? How do you coach and mentor and manage people - their goals, their growth, their careers?
Along with the advice based on personal experience, people recommended resources that have helped them become better managers. I’m not familiar with all of these, so YMMV, but also keep in mind that different resources can resonate differently for everyone.
- The Manager’s Path, Camille Fournier
- The Making of a Manager, Julie Zhuo
- The Memo, Minda Harts
- Resilient Management, Lara Hogan
- Radical Candor, Kim Scott
- Ask a Manager, Alison Green
- Better Allies, Karen Catlin
- 97 Things Every Engineering Manager Should Know, Various authors
To everyone who retweeted and replied, THANK YOU. I’m super excited about starting down this new career path, and this support and knowledge-sharing is an amazing way to get started!
Next up - culture!