Transitioning to Management

MugsleyMugsley Registered User regular
I currently work in a technical Engineering position and I'm at the top tier of my earnings. We are starting to go through a wave of retirements and movement at the Management levels; and I'm starting to get interested in moving away from my current position. I absolutely love the technical side of the work, so a step like this is very much out of my realm of comfort.

I've had this transition be described as, "going from managing Projects to managing People," and that seems very apt. So while I decide whether this is a direction I should move career-wise, are there any resources that you've used to start to better understand the management mindset? Any books worth reading?

I plan to find some time in the near future to sit down with other managers to get their take on the position and what it entails; as well as suggestions for the interview process.

Posts

  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    So there are some decent books out there, but as with anything you shouldn't follow them like blue prints. Unfortunately I see that mistake from newer managers quite frequently, is that they read a book, and follow it like a bible.

    One thing you need to know by Marcus Buckingham is pretty decent.
    Good to Great by Jim Collins is good too.

    But you will need to contextualize the information. Please don't apply square peg to round hole.

    Anon the Felon
  • SatanIsMyMotorSatanIsMyMotor Registered User regular
    While my career has since taken me in a different direction I once managed a team in a technical environment and it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of life. My situation was similar to you in that I worked up to the top of my specific field to the point where I was either going to plateau or need to look for a new challenge.

    While I imagine everyone's experience could be different I never got a better feeling in my career than when I watched the people on my team grow and succeed. While that sounds cheesy it is 100% the truth. You'd also have the advantage of having "been in the trenches" along with your team which goes a long way towards building trust and respect.

    So, in short, you should go for it.

  • MugsleyMugsley Registered User regular
    I'm planning to use some upcoming openings to at least gain more experience in the interviewing process.

    Still, the thought of tracking funding, viewing/approving travel, dealing with personality clashes, writing performance evals, and interviewing new hires all sound both daunting and Not Fun. Which is why I'm still at a personal crossroads regarding whether it's something I actually want to do. But mostly, I feel like I don't have the skills to do the job (for example, outside of people doing work at my house, I've never interviewed anyone and wouldn't know what questions to ask).

    Also it would entail me becoming supervisor of ~20 people from zero. The most people I've "managed" at one time was about 7 [which was less direct management and more making sure the contractor did what we asked them to do].

  • Sir LandsharkSir Landshark resting shark face Registered User regular
    I'm not sure what type of engineer you are, but a lot of larger engineering firms in my field have a "technical management" parallel track that goes all the way up to CTO. So if the goal is to keep moving up (both in pay and responsibility), there may be options available, at least with other firms, that do not require a transition into pure management.

    Please consider the environment before printing this post.
    zepherinArbitraryDescriptorlunchbox12682
  • ThundyrkatzThundyrkatz Registered User regular
    This pretty much sums up what i want to say about becoming a manager.

    it10cmswxbh0.png

    EncShadowfireAnon the FelonschussUsagibowenlunchbox12682thatassemblyguyJansonInquisitor77
  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    Thundyrkatz has the right of it.

    Being the lead or manager means you work harder than everyone else on the team. Arrive earlier, stay later. Work harder, care about the outcome more.

    If that isn't what you are doing, you aren't doing your position right.

  • ArtereisArtereis Registered User regular
    I've gone through a couple of boss changes in my position, each of whom I've been pretty good friends with. One thing they've both told me that surprised them at first was how much work time they spend shielding their team from bureaucracy.

    Smrtnik
  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    Enc wrote: »
    Thundyrkatz has the right of it.

    Being the lead or manager means you work harder than everyone else on the team. Arrive earlier, stay later. Work harder, care about the outcome more.

    If that isn't what you are doing, you aren't doing your position right.

    Though remember this: it's about your people, not you. You should only be doing work when there's no one else.to do it. The glory and good opportunities belong to your people now.

    KetarArbitraryDescriptorEncUsagiAnon the Felon
  • mRahmanimRahmani DetroitRegistered User regular
    Artereis wrote: »
    I've gone through a couple of boss changes in my position, each of whom I've been pretty good friends with. One thing they've both told me that surprised them at first was how much work time they spend shielding their team from bureaucracy.

    A good friend of mine is a senior manager, and often describes himself as a "shit umbrella" for his team. He has a pretty great podcast specifically answering questions about leadership that you might find interesting.

  • PrimePrime Registered User regular
    edited February 2018
    Senior software engineer to senior department manager here. Been in the role just less than a year.

    - most of the time I'm organising multiple projects and the resources required to fullfil.
    - I have to still keep up-to-date on tech my team uses even if not in a practical sense in an ability to call them out for its improper use point of view
    - shit umbrella mentioned above is pretty apt.
    - I love it, challenge is different and I get to be the change I wanted from management when I was an engineer.

    Prime on
  • ArbitraryDescriptorArbitraryDescriptor Registered User regular
    edited February 2018
    Everything posted tracks with my experience. The shit umbrella role is actually quite rewarding if you've come up from the ranks.

    But heed this well:
    schuss wrote: »
    Enc wrote: »
    Thundyrkatz has the right of it.

    Being the lead or manager means you work harder than everyone else on the team. Arrive earlier, stay later. Work harder, care about the outcome more.

    If that isn't what you are doing, you aren't doing your position right.

    Though remember this: it's about your people, not you. You should only be doing work when there's no one else.to do it. The glory and good opportunities belong to your people now.

    Don't move up for inertia's sake, make sure there is something in the job description you have a genuine passion for.

    The higher I rise, the more agency I have to make the awesome projects I love happen, but the less I get to actually enjoy them. I found new opportunities for job satisfaction in the success of my team, or more strategic successes, but I can't live on that; I need a creative outlet.

    "We think you'd be good at it" is not the same as "You will enjoy it." Because, in my case, the former will not exist for long without the latter.

    Hopefully some of the managers you talk to will have come from where you are or know you well enough that they can give you a clear idea of how, specifically, you can translate your passions, or if it's not really for you.

    ArbitraryDescriptor on
    schuss
  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    edited February 2018
    mRahmani wrote: »
    Artereis wrote: »
    I've gone through a couple of boss changes in my position, each of whom I've been pretty good friends with. One thing they've both told me that surprised them at first was how much work time they spend shielding their team from bureaucracy.

    A good friend of mine is a senior manager, and often describes himself as a "shit umbrella" for his team. He has a pretty great podcast specifically answering questions about leadership that you might find interesting.
    Yeah you have to block shit from all directions.
    That’s just part of the gig.

    zepherin on
    schuss
  • MugsleyMugsley Registered User regular
    I'm not sure what type of engineer you are, but a lot of larger engineering firms in my field have a "technical management" parallel track that goes all the way up to CTO. So if the goal is to keep moving up (both in pay and responsibility), there may be options available, at least with other firms, that do not require a transition into pure management.

    I work for the Government as a mechanical engineer. Basically to go beyond where I am now, I have to manage people or manage money.

    The shit umbrella stance makes a lot of sense; since my boss has told me on more than one occasion that the management team (i.e. all the bosses on his tier) were trying to change or not change X or Y situation on our behalf -- whether that's additional administrative burden or some sort of change in how we do business
    [sorry for the vagaries; the work involves some classified and/or high profile work sometimes]

    Speaking to the graphic above, this would be transitioning from a Leader to a Boss.

    @mRahmani I'll give that a listen, thanks!

  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    Mugsley wrote: »
    I'm not sure what type of engineer you are, but a lot of larger engineering firms in my field have a "technical management" parallel track that goes all the way up to CTO. So if the goal is to keep moving up (both in pay and responsibility), there may be options available, at least with other firms, that do not require a transition into pure management.

    I work for the Government as a mechanical engineer. Basically to go beyond where I am now, I have to manage people or manage money.

    The shit umbrella stance makes a lot of sense; since my boss has told me on more than one occasion that the management team (i.e. all the bosses on his tier) were trying to change or not change X or Y situation on our behalf -- whether that's additional administrative burden or some sort of change in how we do business
    [sorry for the vagaries; the work involves some classified and/or high profile work sometimes]

    Speaking to the graphic above, this would be transitioning from a Leader to a Boss.

    mRahmani I'll give that a listen, thanks!
    Ohhhh Your a govy. I have different advice then. You'll need to have certs to move up. Get your PMP and Six Sigma black belt.

    Smrtnika5ehren
  • Gilbert0Gilbert0 North of SeattleRegistered User regular
    Scrum Master could be the first stepping stone even. Point is you remove barriers for your team to continue to do the work. The more "manager" you get, the less defect fixing or organizing it is and the more "Bob asked for Friday off and I want Friday off too and we can't figure it out".

    As for out of your comfort zone, I was tapped to do this as well when my manager went on a 1 year leave and had to take on looking after 3 teams. Hindsight, great experience, but I'll never willingly go back into that type of role. See if there is 3/6/9/12 month temporary opportunities before diving in without an option to go back.

    zepherin
  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    Also, management is usually 90% people problems and about 10% tech mentoring, so you'll be learning a new skillset almost from scratch. If your company doesn't have a strong leadership training program, I'd look into one, as it's impossible without some guidance on core principles/practicing scenarios etc.

    zepherinlunchbox12682Inquisitor77
  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    edited February 2018
    schuss wrote: »
    Also, management is usually 90% people problems and about 10% tech mentoring, so you'll be learning a new skillset almost from scratch. If your company doesn't have a strong leadership training program, I'd look into one, as it's impossible without some guidance on core principles/practicing scenarios etc.
    That reminds me of something a mentor of mine once said. "Never trust a project manager without any war stories. It means they haven't had enough experience, or had something go wrong that needed fixing in a hurry." He also said "Maybe not trust a PM with too many war stories they could just be screwing things up all the time."

    Also as Gilbert said Scrum Master, but that is if you are managing software or programming, Scrum Master isn't as useful if your technical engineering is in a different area (Civil, Mechanical, Environmental).

    zepherin on
  • MugsleyMugsley Registered User regular
    It's 100% "shit breaks and we have to help people get it fixed," and, "shit gets old and we have to upgrade it"

    We act as In-Service Engineering Agents; which means we support cradle-to-grave for the systems we cover. For example, I'm in the process of removing equipment from service that I originally helped install 12 years ago (don't get old, kids).

  • SmrtnikSmrtnik job boli zub Registered User regular
    NAVSEA?

    steam_sig.png
  • witch_iewitch_ie Registered User regular
    I would also suggest the book Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek. It talks about the science behind how you create a good environment for your team.

  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    This blog series also has some great book recommendations and team norms. It's video game software dev, but most of the lessons carry.
    https://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/PaulTozour/20150126/235024/The_Game_Outcomes_Project_Part_5_What_Great_Teams_Do.php

    Book recos:
    5 dysfunctions of a team
    Humble inquiry
    Lean startup (good for understanding change)

    PM me if you want my deeper take on management, but I think these are some good bullet points:
    You are there to protect your team's time an energy to be focused on value creation, not vanity or bs
    you cannot be friends with your team. You can be friendly, but it's like being a parent, you're there to help them develop and be better people first, not to be liked.
    When looking at opportunities, it's not about if they're ready, it's if they're capable.
    Let them fail when it's safe. Lessons are learned better through doing vs telling.
    You will be who they look to around buy in on organizational initiatives, so be careful about the reactions you model.
    Above all: just smile and try to be positive. Do your best to hide your bad days. It's amazing how powerful having a constant source of positivity is.
    Counter - even if they're a top performer, curb toxic behaviors ASAP, they poison the team.

  • 3lwap03lwap0 Registered User regular
    Mugsley wrote: »
    I currently work in a technical Engineering position and I'm at the top tier of my earnings. We are starting to go through a wave of retirements and movement at the Management levels; and I'm starting to get interested in moving away from my current position. I absolutely love the technical side of the work, so a step like this is very much out of my realm of comfort.

    I've had this transition be described as, "going from managing Projects to managing People," and that seems very apt. So while I decide whether this is a direction I should move career-wise, are there any resources that you've used to start to better understand the management mindset? Any books worth reading?

    I plan to find some time in the near future to sit down with other managers to get their take on the position and what it entails; as well as suggestions for the interview process.

    Hi. New manager here myself.

    I've used https://www.manager-tools.com/ a lot. Find their older podcasts, scroll down, and start listening. There's some serious wisdom within - some of which may not be applicable to what you do, but is a solid car drive's worth of learning, and you can digest slowly.

    The biggest take away's that have helped me so far is, well, that there isn't really a book/training that prepares you for the experience of being a manager. You can find some good advice and counsel! But the actual 'doing' bit, well...that's mostly OTJ. My personal experiences are that you have to be disciplined as a manager - build your people management into a routine and then stick to it. Do weekly 1 on 1's with your peeps, provide mentoring and growth, enable them with the right resources, and then let them work and get out of the way. If you've hired wisely, you'll find that smart motivated people find a way to succeed. Just make sure their efforts are directed the right way.

    The most important thing is that a manger takes care of their people. Shield them from the bad stuff. Encourage, grow, support, resource. Just take care of peeps.

    I think Pringles original intention was to make tennis balls... but on the day the rubber was supposed to show up a truckload of potatoes came. Pringles is a laid-back company, so they just said, "Fuck it, cut em up!".
    schussAiouaMugsley
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