Transitioning, growing, progressing, or simply changing from a developer to a manager is a wonderfully rewarding journey that is unique to everyone. I hope you now have a better idea of your personal response to the original fundamental question that we asked in the introduction.
Just for a minute, think back to the opening of this chapter. It was a thought-provoking statement that said that you're a confident and brilliant developer / coder / programmer / techie. So, why do you want to become a manager?
Just as in software development, there is not necessarily a right or wrong way to answer this question. If you are still struggling to answer this, that's perfectly okay. There are a lot more ideas and considerations to think about, which we will cover throughout the upcoming chapters.
It's important to note that it is completely normal to have reservations and even doubts anywhere along the journey to becoming a manager. Having doubts at the start is not only normal, but also potentially advantageous because it's always good to fail fast, learn, and improve. It's the Holy Grail of a more efficient feedback loop, just like in software development.
If you do have a definitive answer to this question and are eager to start your journey, then that's great too. Once you know what your way is, that being whatever is at the center of your motivations, everything can be rooted in these foundations. Whether it's more money, power, responsibility, kudos, or something entirely different, it must be clear and convincing enough to keep you motivated for the long haul. The Golden Circle by Simon Sinek is a simple model that can help you to frame your thoughts and guide yourself toward your why.
Overlaying your risk-versus-reward considerations on top of your why will give you a solid base to decide whether, and how, you should set off on your transitional journey to becoming a manager. Most importantly, this will help you understand the impact of your decision. Be prepared to answer the critical question: "What if you fail constructively?" Remember that progress is not a straight line, and you should always be willing to accept that there are risks that go with the rewards.
In planning your journey, knowing where you currently are is a vital step, just like a navigator getting their position and bearings. By doing a focused retrospective review on your career so far, you will learn more about yourself – specifically, your preference and tolerance to less technical, more managerial tasks. By doing a little analysis of your work time, you can gain real insight into whether you are already doing, and enjoying, lots of the managerial tasks.
The legendary management guru Peter Drucker's Time Log method is the perfect tool to quantify and discern your current mix of developer and management work. You will also debunk the notion that becoming a manager is a gargantuan leap, and you can confidently reassure yourself that you already have some experience and achievements to be proud of.
After clarifying what being a "Modern Manager" really means, and the broad categories applicable in software development (Team / Development / Project / Agile manager), the overarching and often key consideration for developers is whether it means they will be managing people and writing less code.
While this is a big and nuanced topic, you can rest assured that it isn't as daunting, or indeed as difficult, as you might think. However, it will require you to be open-minded and receptive to learning new skills along the way, with a focus on fewer technical skills and fewer binary concepts. Consider, as an example, the art of negotiation and stakeholder management.
If the type of manager you wish to become does include the privilege of managing people, then there are extra considerations for you to ponder, because people management is certainly not a trivial responsibility that can be taken lightly.
As a people manager, you have a professional and moral responsibility to lead, protect, nurture, serve, and constructively challenge your team members. This is one of the key areas you will need to have support and mentorship in. So, when you are building your overall support network, finding some extra resources to help you with people management is highly recommended.
To help you tackle each challenge, a comprehensive toolkit for a new developer-cum-manager will be provided and built on across the coming chapters. This is one of the main aims of the book and will include exploring the various elements of managing people in a team. While there's no magic one-size-fits-all formula, there are proven approaches and techniques that can be applied to help you become the best manager you can be.
In today's fast-moving work environment, a common way for a developer to become a manager is often "by accident." The emergence of the "Accidental Manager" is not a new phenomenon. While it is the butt of most Dilbert cartoon jokes, the circumstances in which an accidental manager is created do not define the manager themselves. It can actually create genuine opportunities to ask quality questions from a fresh perspective and add value on a different level.
Look out for imposter syndrome and refrain from succumbing to your insecurities. By using classic and powerful tools such as the Johari Window and the Rumsfeld Matrix, you can become comfortable in knowing your own strengths and weaknesses, your blind spots, and ways that people can help to detect them. Above all, if you do find yourself becoming an accidental manager, take it as a compliment that the company needs you now more than ever, and use it to your advantage!
In the next chapter, What Are the Key Skills I Need?, we'll look at the key skills you need to undertake your journey from developer to manager.