From Engineer to Manager: keeping your technical skills
Joan Gamell

I’m losing my hair and getting grey in my beard. S’alright it’s just the ageing process rather than being in the same shoes as you :)

Having worn those same shoes for a long time now, here’s a few of my (sometimes painful) learnings:

  1. There’s a tendency to create standards or make tooling decisions prematurely. It’s always best done off the back of some real-world experience. TCP/IP’s evolution is a great example of this. Corporations like standards because it means cost savings, great for the bean-counters but potentially lethal for technical work when the wrong tools are forced upon you. Test, learn, adjust.
  2. When making technical decisions, have the team make those choices. Sit in on the discussion, help it along, share your experience (last as you rightly observe) but if at all possible let the team decide. Which brings me to a more general point…
  3. Your team(s) will be practising every second of the day what you only get to do occasionally, leverage their growing capability to mentor you. You’ll have a nose for what’s interesting or difficult, they’ll be able to ground you in reality and teach you what you need to know about those things.
  4. Servant-leadership — I can see that already in your words but IMO it’s key. You’re there to support the team, that means more than anything else, stepping back, helping them step forward. Your ultimate success is to make yourself redundant. Don’t lead, be a peer, help them surface hidden issues, work with them to resolve them. My favourite question? “What can I do to help you with x?”

I hope that helps!

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