Engineer to Manager: Initial Thoughts

I recently made the switch from Senior Engineering to Engineering Manager 😱. In this post, I'll share some general thoughts on the experience so far. While everyone's experience and situation is different, I think it's helpful to share my initial thoughts about making the transition a successful one for everyone.

Aaron Bos | Wednesday, August 16, 2023

I'd like to preface this post by saying that these experiences are based on what I've learned personally after a few weeks of being an Engineering Manager. They may not apply directly to everyone, but I find it helpful to take a step back and think about take aways from the transition so far.

What I've Learned So Far

It's not a promotion. While going from Senior IC to Engineering Manager may seem like a promotion on the surface, in most cases it's not, and I'm completely fine with that. I've had multiple people congratulate me on the "promotion" and LinkedIn even considered the position change a "promotion" automatically but in the grand scheme of things I've technically made a lateral move to a different career track. I'll touch more on responsibilities later but for me, the biggest change in being a manager is the required mindset shift.

Thinking like a manager is slightly different from the thinking required for being an IC. As a manager, I need to have a broader range of focus to make sure that my team is working on the right things at the right time for the business. I also have a stronger focus on how effectively my team is performing as a whole to achieve our goals. This differs from system/project/design based focus that I maintained as a Senior IC. I still need to be focused on the technical aspects of projects, but the direction and priority of what the team is working on are equally (if not more) important for me to understand.

I still get to write code! One of my biggest fears when thinking about transitioning to Engineering Manager was losing my ability to write code and solve problems. Your mileage may vary with team size and needs, but my team is quite small and I've still been able to contribute to tickets in the sprint while maintaining my management duties. My goal is to do what I can to make space for the talented engineers on my team to do what they do best. If that means taking on a bit of work that's off the critical path that keeps my team focused on our goals, then I'm happy to do it. I'm still learning the right balance, but so far the change in the amount of coding hasn't been massive for me.

I still have a lot to learn about being an effective manager, but the challenges that it has presented so far have been fun and interesting. I'm looking forward to continuing to grow in this role as a leader on my team and excited for all of the great things we'll be doing. I plan to periodically write posts about what I'm learning and my experiences transitioning from an IC to a manager.

As always thank you for taking the time to read this blog post!