Managing people is always challenging, but particularly in technical fields. Being good at your technical tasks doesn’t automatically make someone a good manager, in fact, it can be the opposite. The attention to detail needed in technical work is often at odds with the larger strategic view managers need to cultivate and maintain.
I’ve been a software engineer, a novelist, a journalist, and a manager–and managing developers is easily the trickiest thing I’ve ever done. (Not the hardest. But the trickiest.) I don’t pretend to be an expert, or a great manager. But I can assure you I am someone who screwed up a lot along the road to being better. Here are some mistakes from which I have learned:
Just Because You’re In Charge Doesn’t Mean You’re In Control
The great irony of management is that the higher up you go, the less actual control you have. When you are but a humble coder, you make the computer do exactly what you want; when you’re a manager, you only hope that people understand what you want, and then trust/pray that they do it both correctly and in a timely manner.
Developers turned managers, especially “full-stack” (aka “dilettante”) developers like me, often have…
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