From Manager to Managed

Caleb Mbakwe
Feb 6, 2019 · 5 min read

At the time I started writing this article, I was a Technical Success Manager (TSM) at Andela. Now that you are reading this article, well, you’ll know me as a Senior Developer (SD) at Andela. As a TSM, I did exactly what the job title states, I Managed developers in a Technical capacity to ensure their Success. As an SD, my primary responsibility is no longer to manage developers but instead, I’m returning to active programming. I’m now a developer and I will be managed by a TSM.

My Awesome team (Someone here may be my next manager)

In reading this, I hope you realise why you should take time out to assess your life and make a switch if you discover you need to.

Why did I switch?

I have always been a developer at heart and I opted to manage more developers with the intention that I would be coding on the side and also lending my experience to more developers at a time. I started as a TSM in December 2017 and life was incredibly awesome. I was having the time of my life (read this to see how the fun I had motivated me to write about managers).

I have a habit of assessing myself every quarter. I hold myself to high expectations: Financial, knowledge, career, networks, relationship (alright, my relationship expectations are low but you get the point). This keeps me accountable and helps me measure my happiness, growth and fulfilment in life. I implore you to do the same (if you don’t already) as you will find that the older you get, the faster time flies and this simple act of self-assessment helps you to make the most of time and achieve your goals.

You’ll agree with me that you cannot continue doing the same thing the same way and expect different results. So if you do not like the results you are getting or are not comfortable with something then you need to change either what you are doing or how you are doing it.

Image Source: http://goodbyetoyou104.blogspot.com/

After assessing myself by the third quarter of 2018, I had realised that not only was I coding less, I was also entering the employee risk zone.

Image Source: https://www.merchantmaverick.com/best-high-risk-merchant-account-providers/

The employee risk zone

I know some people work for money, however, if you consider money as a means to an end and also consider how you can always increase your earning capacity, you will see that there are certain sins an employee must not commit. I’ll state two that are pertinent to this article.

  1. Stop learning: The only reason you should work is to learn. Think of it this way, if you are not learning, you could as well be a robot with an already set program. What I mean is that you will not be adding value to yourself but instead only adding value to your employers and when, due to your lack of relevant knowledge, that value is exhausted, I can guarantee that one way or another, you will be replaced by someone (or a real robot) with more relevant knowledge than you so choose what you want to learn and go after it. After a year as a manager, I felt like I was learning at a diminishing rate.
  2. Stay comfortable: I’m not saying that you shouldn’t get comfortable but don’t stay comfortable with mediocrity. If you are at a level that you think you are ok with (financially, knowledge or network) then, by all means, please remain where you are. However, if you want to grow then don’t be comfortable with comfort. Remember, the stimulus for the lobster to be able to grow is that they feel uncomfortable (click here to learn more). You will grow faster when you are under pressure but if you remain comfortable then even your body will get comfortable with your shell. For me, the job of managing developers, although very impactful, was becoming monotonous and not challenging anymore.

The beautiful fact of being an employee in this generation is that switching jobs is no longer frowned upon as it was in the past. If you ever enter the employee risk zone, attempt to switch roles in your company and if there is no suitable role then, by all means, look outside. After all, your employers look outside when they need to replace you.

In one year of managing developers, I got to manage many great developers. Thank you Celestine Omin, for defining what code excellence is, Ebot Tabi, your level of expertise is out of this world, Olaide Agboola, for proving that what a man can do, a woman can do too, Bolaji, you lead by serving and that’s awesome, Orjiewuru Kingdom, star boy of Andela, Anosike Osifo, you held the forte impeccably (but bomb is in your head), Olajide Aderigbe, we will find this model, Solomon Apenya, for making me understand how to better handle pressure, Peter Etelej, for reminding me of the value in mentoring and teaching (my wrists hurt from writing names so stopping here)

The First and the Last…

I already miss the great times we had. It was an honour being your manager. I look forward to your greatness ahead but for now, I’m excited to be coding with you.

Knowing that I will see my current colleagues less often, I will also miss the wonderful tutelage of Damilare Lana, the advice of Chike Ikeorah, the incredible willingness to learn of Adegbenga A Adeye, the motherly smile of Marie Casabonne, the immaculate work ethic of Lucy Prom.

I am grateful to Wambui Kinya, Olawumi Onawunmi, Damilare Lana and Moses Kihumba for the opportunity to switch roles. They are yet another reason why Andela is truly the greatest place to work in Africa

Backticks & Tildes

Distributed knowledge without borders

Caleb Mbakwe

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Impossible is nothing

Backticks & Tildes

Distributed knowledge without borders

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