Most likely as a software developer, you have experienced an array of problem-solving challenges using your unique skill set of writing code. And, as a developer, you have had several opportunities to learn and use a variety of tools and languages, which enabled you to make a positive impact in your career. But what happens when you are ready to shift your talents from developer to manager?
Whether you took on the role of leader and headed up a difficult project or saved the day with your coding knowledge and expertise, the skills utilized as a developer are actually quite different than the proficiencies that are essential for being a good manager.
The guide below will explain what is necessary when transitioning from developer to manager.
The Difference Between Developer and Manager
Developers become accustomed to writing code and solving specific problems. They also work for several hours of uninterrupted time to complete a job. However, a manager's time is used quite differently. Rather than coding skills, the manager is focusing on solving problems and s/he needs to constantly communicate with others.
As a developer, you're likely accustomed to easily measuring the progress of a project on a daily basis, yet as a manager, progress is not so narrowly defined.
You will lead those in carrying out a project, rather than being directly involved in the process and seeing the results of your efforts may require time. Much like the conductor who leads an orchestra performance, you will guide each member of your team so that the overall outcome is a success. Thus your success is measured by the accomplishment of your team members through working together and seeing how individual performance affects the final outcome. You are still solving problems, but in a very different way. Rather than using your coding skill set to solve a single issue, you will branch out and expand through guiding those in your team, which in many ways offers a higher level of reward.
Shifting from Technical to Relational
As manager, one of your top priorities is inspiring your team. No longer are you focusing on the code, now it is about the people. Regardless if your team is a group of people that you selected one by one or not, getting to know each one individually will enable you to learn their strengths and abilities. Setting aside time to meet with your team as a group and one-on-one will nurture relationships, build loyalty, and motivate them to work together in order to help you reach a specific goal.
The ideal leader will take interest in each person, making sure they feel appreciated and supported by you.
One very important part of being a developer is having the ability to think of innovative ways to solve problems. Therefore as a manager, it is important to realize your team members need that same opportunity, thus encouraging them to share feedback and ideas will keep them engaged. Additionally, these new ideas may very well lead you down the path of success again and again.
A management position does not require you to have all the answers, and in fact, a good leader understands it is impossible to know everything. That is why you have a team and through building a relationship with each member, you will have the ability to coordinate the variety of individual talents and skills, combining them so you can achieve the desired outcome.
Your team members will appreciate your honesty when you share with them what you know as well as what you're less familiar with. Likewise, they will appreciate having the opportunity to make a contribution in resolving issues. If you look at any great leader, they hire others to help them achieve a goal, recognizing doing everything alone is impossible. One of the greatest rewards of managing is experiencing your team rallying beside you and working together to achieve one sole purpose.
Help Your Team Grow
A successful team is one comprised of leaders. Working with a group of individuals that have their own aspirations for success will make your job easier. People who are already motivated to succeed are generally hard working and focused; and as their manager, when they recognize you are dedicated to helping them achieve their goals within the company, they will help you reach yours.
Cultivating an environment of trust, communication, and listening more than talking will establish strong relationships and get projects finished on time and on budget. When your team knows that you trust them and have clarity of your expectations, they will take ownership of the duties and responsibilities that have been assigned. While trust has to be earned by all parties, it evolves as you build relationships and get to know one another. Imagine the feeling of success when your team works together, even in your absence because they know what needs to be done.
Once you have a strong team and develop a system that is successful, it will become easier to multiply efforts repeatedly.