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Q&A: How did you know you wanted to be an engineering manager?



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.

About Marcus Blankenship

Where other technical coaches focus on process or tools, I focus on the human aspects of your Programmer to Manager transition. I help you hire the right people, create the right culture, and setup the right process which achieves your goals. Managing your team isn't something you learned in college. In fact, my clients often tell me "I never prepared for this role, I always focused on doing the work". If you're ready to improve your leadership, process and team, find out how I can help you.

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