Turagd emailed me this question a few days ago:
“How did you know you wanted to be an engineering manager?”
Like many of you, I didn’t set out to be an engineering manager. In fact, I understood completely when a coaching client told me: “I never prepared for this move in my career.”
Let me share with you how unprepared I was, with a true story of how I got the news of my promotion:
It was a Tuesday, about 11:15 am, in July of 2000. Y2K hadn’t destroyed the world, and I was taking a bio-break in the big stall. In fact, I was reading “Java 1.5 invigorates developers” in an old issue of InfoWorld.
Someone opens the bathroom door.
They say, “Marcus?”
Startled, I holler “Hey, what??”
“You got a promotion. You’re now a manager. See me when you’re done.”
So, yeah, I was a bit unprepared for it. <grin>
Of course, I was lucky because in the coming weeks my boss set me up for success. He:
1. Plugged me into the Manager Training Program at work.
2. Gave me a team that knew how to work together, and already respected me.
3. Gave me a few books to read.
4. Gave me both affirming and adjusting feedback so that I could improve quickly.
5. Made my responsibilities clear, and eased me into the terrible stuff.
Even though the way I was told was surprising, I had a great support system to be successful.
If you’ve got a great support system, congratulations. I hope you return the favor to those you promote.