The month of March 2022 was my first month as an Engineering Manager. A fresh start in a new role. Where everything is new, and I will probably not be good at it for a while. And that is okay. In this post, I will share the lessons I learned as an Engineering Manager in my first month.
Your role has changed
If you make the promotion from an individual contributor to Engineering Manager you need to be aware your role has changed. Let’s take a look at a personal example.
In my first week, we had a serious production incident. I won’t go into the details, but it was confrontational. Not in the sense, you expect though. I had to learn that my role was no longer being the “hands on the keyboard” kind of problem solver. I’m here to make sure the team is able to solve the incident.
Changing your role is not only a negative thing. When something happens, people look to you first to come up with a plan. It can be quite a shock to be in that position for the first time. But in my first month as an engineering manager, I already have the idea that it becomes easier.
As an engineering manager, my role has changed from hands-on fixing to making sure my team is set up for success to do it themselves.
In my first month as an engineering manager, I experienced one thing clearly. Relationships change. With some of my coworkers, I have collaborated for several years. With some of them, my relationship changed overnight. Instead of working as equals, people started to ask permission for things or even asked me if they could leave a meeting to have dinner with their spouses.
Some coworkers I talk to in an informal way, love to spend time with, and some I might even consider my friends. It is hard to see some of those relationships change as they are now my direct report. You can fight this change, but I have quickly realized you have to accept it. You might be able to still communicate informally. But there is a difference in power dynamics.
I was warned and I expected some relationships to change, but I was surprised how much and how fast it happened.
Learn to delegate
If you don’t pay attention, your agenda gets swallowed up completely. It can be meetings, or people requiring help. You might not be the best person to help them. But have a talented engineer in your team who might. Don’t be afraid to delegate things. In Leveling engineers with the Goldilocks rule, I have explored the idea of giving engineers tasks just outside of their capabilities.
In my first month as an engineering manager, I had to learn that it is okay to delegate. It might be scary to give away control, but I have learned if you trust your people, they can usually be trusted.
If you are unsure what to delegate, I can recommend Eisenhowers Matrix.
In my first month as an engineering manager, I have learned a lot! It was nothing like I predicted.
- Your role has changed, let go of your old ways and try to find your new style.
- Relationships change now that you are higher in the hierarchiecal chain. Some people that you consider friends now report to you.
- Learn to delegate! The time is over you need to do everything yourself.
I hope some of my mistakes and learning helped you to prevent them. An article that helped me is the Managers Pendulum. With the main takeaway, don’t consider it a promotion. It is a career change.
To read more of this content, subscribe to the newsletter. And get my latest blog posts and interesting articles straight into your mailbox.