Should I become a manager?

Over the years I have been a programmer, support engineer, people manager, and now an entrepreneur.

Should I become a manager?
Should I become a manager?

My most difficult switch during my journey was when I went from a support engineer to a people manager. The opportunity appeared as an internal job opening right when the company I was working for introduced a management layer for the first time.

I wasn’t sure if I should apply or not. On one hand, I had spent quite a long time as a support engineer and it was time for a change. On the other hand, being a people manager was something totally different for me. Could I do it? Would my peers, who would now become my directs, respect me as their manager?

After asking them and explaining why I wanted to try that, I got their support. So I went ahead and applied. I never regretted that career change.

Should you become a manager if you ever face the dilemma? Here is what I have learned all these years.

If you know or are prepared to learn how to:

  • Talk to people. Like, talk a lot. TALK A LOT.
  • Organize effective meetings only when it should be a meeting.
  • Work with numerous spreadsheets, that are all over the place. The rate of spreadsheet creation is exponential.
  • Create and track OKRs, KPIs, Goals, Metrics, you name it. All of the buzzwords and abbreviations.
  • Use email effectively. Like, a lot.
  • Track the performance of your team.
  • Write performance reviews for your team.
  • Deliver performance reviews to your directs.
  • Give feedback, both positive and negative.
  • Manage 360 feedback.
  • Deal with people’s issues.
  • Coach folks.
  • Find them a mentor.
  • Help them grow and with their career path.
  • Communicate effectively through different channels.
  • Adjust the same message to many different audiences, up and down.
  • Repeat things many times until everyone has actually heard it. Like, many times.
  • Delegate the work and stop doing it yourself.
  • Prepare interview questions, do interviews, and hire people.
  • Design performance improvement plans and track them.
  • Fire people.
  • Do weekly one on ones with your directs.
  • Work closely with your peers.
  • Deal with push-back.
  • Deal with poor performance.
  • Deal with sexual harassment.
  • Know when to get HR involved.
  • Use the right communication channel for the right purpose.
  • Make & communicate decisions, not always based on consensus.
  • Inspire and motivate.
  • Plan meet-ups for your remote teams.
  • Be present to accommodate your distributed team members.
  • Write job descriptions.
  • Write expectations.
  • Deal with conflicts.
  • Admit you are wrong.
  • Accept feedback.
  • Manage up.
  • Avoid gossip.
  • Find a balance between what the company wants and what your directs want.
  • Support your team.
  • Advocate for your team.
  • Actively listen.

There are so many other things to list, but I am stopping here. You must be getting the point. If you don’t like most the things above, you may want to stick to what you like to do.

Is that path inevitable? No. If you are a senior programmer, you can become a principal programmer and stay there until the end. Replace “programmer” with any individual contributor position and you are good to go.

Become a manager only if you love the idea of serving your team and the company. Strive to keep on learning and improving. Ask for feedback frequently.

HeavyMelon is building Supportress. A simple and fast customer support tool at an unbeatable price. It helps you stay calm and productive. Subscribe to this blog, subscribe to our monthly HeavyMelon Newsletter, or ask us to add you to the private beta.

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Petros Amiridis View All →

Petros is a software writer since 1998, when he graduated from CITY College with a degree in Computer Science. He took a small break to work at GitHub Support for 9 years as a support engineer and a people manager. He quit GitHub to found HeavyMelon, a calm fully remote company. You can check what he is doing and where you can find him online now.

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