First things first, you need to know what I do and how I got from a web developer to a manager, so moving forward you get why I do some stuff.
From web developer to manager and business focus
So I work at EveryMatrix, since 2015, and I run the FE department (Not Officially a Business Unit). My official title is FE Tech Director, but my day to day work is a split between business, management, and high-level tech. In total, I manage 23 people, split into 7 teams. In terms of team topics, we have JS, WordPress, QA, Business, iOS, and Architecture.
Before EveryMatrix, I worked as a web developer, jobs from 9 to 5, but also as a freelancer, in different companies and industries: from development studios and media agencies, online shops to adult content providers, and now, online gambling. I would say that I had different types of managers in the past, some of them really good, and some of them really bad, but from both sides, I learned a lot. I love to say that from the bad ones I took the “what not to do as a manager” and I apply it right now, in my day to day.
The Switch from web developer to manager
Well, this is the tricky part, and come to think of it, these are the most common questions I got asked by other developers: “How did you do the switch? How did you convince your bosses to give you, a developer, a management position?”
The answer is simple, and I will put it like this:
- hard work – do more, learn new stuff
- make things work and save the day – do what it takes, help others
- speak up – when you have an idea or you see a problem
- position yourself correctly – make people understand what you want
- empathy – you really need soft skills
- vision – look ahead and understand what needs to be done
- a little bit of luck
For me it was all of the above, already working at EveryMatrix for +2 years, a Team Lead position opened for the team that I was part of and I applied instantaneously. I convinced the BU CTO and CEO at that time that I had what it takes and there it was the switch.
The present and trade-offs
I love what I do, I love being a manager. Honestly, before the switch, I felt bored and unused. Now, I have the same enthusiasm as the first day I was named TL.
You are stepping into a completely different world. It was only an inch away from you, but you never dealt with it. I became a living shield for my team, I position myself to take all the bad things (shit) that came from outside, and internally they got only what was needed to be done. I believe that this is how I earned their trust.
Remember, not all people in organisations want what is best. Some of them are assholes and will always have a hidden agenda. Just try to foresee it.
It took me a while to understand this (almost 6 months).
You need to know your team, what are they good at, what are they missing, who is fit to assist in leading, who is good in small projects, who is good in big ones, and so on. How? Talk to them, analyze their work, and understand how they think.
Your idea is good, it could be the best damn thing, but you will not be the one doing it, they will. So give them the work, let them make their decisions, and make sure that all the paths aligned. Some will say it’s simple… well it’s not.