The Engineer/manager Pendulum
From Charity Majors:
The best frontline eng managers in the world are the ones that are never more than 2-3 years removed from hands-on work, full time down in the trenches. The best individual contributors are the ones who have done time in management.
And the best technical leaders in the world are often the ones who do both. Back and forth. Like a pendulum.
…It’s a good cycle for people who like early stage companies, or have ADD. But I don’t see people talking about it as a career path. So I’m here to advocate for it, as an intentional and awesome way of life.
…Management is highly interruptive, and great engineering–where you’re learning things–requires blocking out interruptions. You can’t do these two opposite things at once. As a manager, it is your job to be available for your team, to be interrupted. It is your job to choose to hand off the challenging assignments, so that your engineers can get better at engineering.
…We don’t talk about this nearly enough: the immense breadth and strength that accrues to engineers who make a practice of going back and forth.
…Being a manager teaches you how the business works. It also teaches you how people work. You will learn to have uncomfortable conversations. You will learn how to still get good work out of people who are irritated, or resentful, or who hate your guts. You will learn how to resolve conflicts, dear god will you ever learn to resolve conflicts…You’ll go home exhausted every day and unable to articulate anything you actually did. But you did stuff.
…There’s nothing worse than reporting to someone forced into managing. Please don’t be one of the reasons people burn out hard on tech.
It isn’t a promotion, so you don’t have any status to give up. Do it as long as it makes you happy, and the people around you happy. Then stop. Go back to building things. Wait til you get that itch again.
Then do it all over again.