The other day, someone asked me:
Is it true that once in management, you should leave your technical skills behind and focus solely on relationships and communication?
Is management really only about being a hub of communication from direct reports/projects to other management?
Basically, you shouldn’t leave your skills behind.
In order to both be credible as a leader and effectively manage a team of technical people, you need to know technology, speak the language, and be aware of changes in the industry.
But, you shouldn’t expect to code every day, every week, or every month.
You shouldn’t expect to code as part of your day job at all. You don’t want to be the best coder on your team. You want to surround yourself with great coders and help them grow their skills.
In management, your role absolutely shifts from being technical to being an enabler—coaching your team, helping set a vision, making tough but sometimes unpopular decisions. You’re evaluating performance, setting goals, etc.
Personally, I have zero interest in that, and will stay non-management for the foreseeable future.
The best companies I’ve worked for offer technical paths that pay as much as management roles without the burden of managing people. These are often “Principal” or “Advisory” roles, where you’re mentoring other developers and providing strategic technology expertise rather than doing the day-to-day grind of managing people.
If you found this helpful, check out my book, “The Web Developer Career Guide.”
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