Making the Move into Management

Mac Newbold

OpenWest - May 9, 2014


Game Plan

Do you want to be a manager?

What to expect

Great engineer != Great manager

Preparing for management


Succeeding in management

What Do I Know?

I make no claims of being an expert

I've done a few things

I've seen a lot of management styles

Let's make work a happier place

Blame the people who accepted the talk

So you want to be a manager?

Good Things



Career advancement

Not-So-Good Things

Higher expectations

More risk?

Always on-call?

Longer hours?

Maybe Good Things

More responsibility

Different duties

Less coding, more coaching

Less time working alone, more collaborating

More meetings

More "variety"

Manager Roles

Depending on the {company, department, team}, 

Managers may have a wide variety of responsibilities

Some are usually more enjoyable than others

Product Manager

Project Manager

Development Manager

See "Care and Feeding of Modern Developers"

For reals, see "The Mythical Man Month"

Guiding technical decisions, architecture, standards

Managing productivity

Coaching, mentoring, training

Other Manager Duties

HR stuff



Great Engineer != Great Manager

Few places are silly enough to assume 
that their best practitioners 
will be the best managers of practitioners

Geek managers definitely have something that
many managers never achieve:
deep technical understanding

Geek skills != Manager skills

However, there are a lot of things you can do
to be both a great engineer and a great manager


Managing Different Experts


Don't speak geek to people who don't grok it

Be the translator

Keep it simple - they want results, not a novel

Problem Solver

Managing People

Don't be That Guy

Don't Do It For Them

You're not the coder now, let them do it

If necessary, teach first, then leave it to them

Preparing for Management

1. Perform well at your current job
2. Identify and study the "other skills"
3. Show leadership where possible
4. Take up juggling

Leading Without Authority

Sometimes we need to exercise Leadership,
without being given any actual Authority

Sometimes called "managing up", or
leading from the side

Biggest difference: can't pull rank,
so you have to use other methods

The key skills this exercises seem to be:
Fostering Mutual Respect

See "How to Win Friends and Influence People"

Identifying Management Opportunities

Depending on your current employment,
there may or may not be good opportunities
that you can work toward

You may need to look outside the company
in order to move into a management role

Talk with your boss about your career goals,
and you may be surprised with opportunities

It's usually easier to be promoted within
than getting hired into your first manager role

Practice Outside of Work

Don't neglect other opportunities to practice management skills

You may find them in many places:
Volunteer organizations
Church or Religious group
Geek Community
Sports or other Leagues

Sometimes these are even better practice than work:
leading unpaid volunteers is tricky, because they can
always walk away any time with often no consequences

Try it at home too - your family/roommates might appreciate it

Succeeding in Management

If you're already a manager, I think the priorities are:

#1 Communication

#2 Leading execution

#3 Coaching/Mentoring

You _will_ run into difficult situations

You _will_ do things that you later wish you had done differently

Don't worry - relax and communicate, and things will work out.

Be a Good Manager

Know Your Team

Do Unto Others


Management is a fun and challenging opportunity

Having a geek skill set prior to management
can be a great strength

Great Engineers can be Great Managers,
but there are non-engineering skills you'll want to develop

If you want to be a manager, now or someday,
there are some simple things you can do to prepare

If you want to be a successful manager,
just keep putting effort into it


Thanks for Coming

Keep in touch?

Vivint is hiring... JS, PHP (C#?)

freenode IRC #uphpu / #utah


Reviews/feedback encouraged:

Making the Move to Management

By Mac Newbold

Making the Move to Management

Many developers have wondered where their career path might lead once they have reached the pinnacle of coding expertise in their sphere of influence at work. For almost everyone, it seems that sooner or later it leads to some kind of management. Trading your best coder’s compiler and editor for a meeting schedule and notebook might seem like a poor choice, but there are patterns that can influence how successful a geek-turned-manager might be.

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