When I was a Team Lead of 8 programmers, I envied them. Not because their job was easy, but because I missed programming. I missed writing software each day. I missed the periods of deep focus, of technical problem solving, of putting the final touches on something I was proud of. I missed delivering something that made a users’ life better, even in a small way.
I often thought of going back to programming, especially when being a manager was stressful. Or thankless. Or I couldn’t see progress in my work.
But I didn’t go back.
I wish I could say that I didn’t for noble reasons, but that wouldn’t be true. I didn’t go back because…
1. I didn’t want to make less money
2. I didn’t want to hurt my career at the company
3. I didn’t want to let down my boss
4. I would have felt humiliated, as though I had failed at being a Team Lead
5. My boss, wife, parents, and family wouldn’t understand my decision
I wonder what would have happened if I’d stepped back into an IC role like Senior Programmer. At the company I worked for it would have been a Career-Limiting Move (CLM). Management had a distinct “US vs. THEM” mentality and I’m not sure I could have survived transitioning back from the US to the THEM.
What’s it like where you work?
Maybe it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m not sure, so I’ll ask:
- Have you thought of going back to coding full-time?
- What holds you back?
- How would a move like that be received?
I have more thoughts, but I’ll save them for another day.