As I mentioned last week, I'm still in Ireland. I was going to post more Ireland photos, but I had these lovely black & white photos from around Washington ready to go. Rather than try to grab an Ireland photo, I'm going to leave these in place. I'll likely bombard you with Ireland photos over the next many weeks, as we have quite a few to go through.
We had a great time on our bike tour. I've been biking, and I've been on tours. Hadn't gone on a bike tour before. Turns out they're a load of fun.
I recently wrote about a variety of reasons you might not want to move into management. I decided that writing the opposite article would be useful.
The most obvious reason (which I didn't exactly cover) that people move into management is the financial reward. At most places, however, the financial reward for moving into the same level of management is minimal. If you're at the same level, the compensation increase at tech companies tends to be 0-20% (yes, there are exceptions for various roles or companies, but I'm talking about general practice here). Nice, but not worth the additional stress of a leadership position.
There are great financial opportunities out there (more on that later). However, I think the primary reasons to move into management need to be about the job itself. It needs to be the type of position that inspires you.
I think your career success hinges on you being engaged with your position. If you dislike the tasks and look forward to the end of the day, you're likely done with career growth.
If you are excited and engaged with your tasks, if you search for opportunities, if you want to excel (not just pass) expectations, you'll have great career growth. Is management the right place for you to excel?
Do you love management tasks?
In my last article, I asked if you loved your individual contributor tasks. If you enjoyed coding (for example), you might not want to move into management.
What about your management tasks? For example, I've always enjoyed interviewing. As a manager, you should be a part of every interview loop for your team. If you're hiring many people, that might mean a dozen interviews a week. Does that scare you, or excite you? Well, a dozen interviews might scare me as well. However, the point is that it's a core responsibility that I enjoyed.
If you enjoy debating hard decisions, coaching people, and influencing product direction, you might enjoy moving into management.
Do you find socialization energizing?
As an introvert, the social aspects of management were a downside. However, for many people, they thrive in the social connectivity of managers.
As an engineer, chatting with someone from another team is possibly a waste of your time. As a manager, chatting with the leader of another team is possibly a great way to build a relationship. Relationships are an important aspect to getting things done.
Those who thrive in social situations have a great advantage as managers. I've seen them effortlessly build a great team culture, schedule team building events, and connect with peers.
If this excites you, rather than intimidates you, management might be fun.
Is teaching and coaching a passion?
A large part of the management job is leading people. Sometimes it means helping people take better advantage of their strengths. Other times it means helping people overcome their challenges.
- Walter quietly solved a major Android OS bug, while working at Amazon. Impressive, but Walter wasn't one to shine a light on himself. I let some principal engineers know, so they could be aware of Walter's skill (for future career development). I pointed out his success to our leadership team, who made a point of thanking Walter. With inaction, his success would have been quietly ignored. With a little help, I was able to absolutely help his career, and get him some well-deserved recognition.
- Before Jane joined my team as a manager, she was beginning to be put into performance coaching by her previous team. I convinced her manager to let her join my team instead because I'd enjoyed working with her as a peer, and I'd heard good things about her from others. To research things, I read through her previous manager's feedback, and feedback on her performance from prior years. Once I understood what others felt her strengths and weaknesses were, I spoke to Jane. With a better picture of her interests and abilities, I was able to build a role for her. It was a valuable role for the team, and Jane became quite successful. Not everyone can be a fungible leader, but sometimes people have a ton of value to add in specific circumstances.
- Kristina didn't want to be a manager. She enjoyed her engineering job. But she couldn't stop herself from stepping up when her manager left the team. I worked with Kristina to ensure that she was supported while learning how to manage. With reference books, blog posts, and a good amount of one-on-one time, I helped her work through the first few painful months. Over time, she needed my assistance less, and she built her own management style. Many years later, she is a successful and fantastic people manager. And she doesn't seem to regret moving into management.
Those moments where you know you made a difference in someone's career, stick with you for years.