First time tech managers: what to remember

First time tech managers: what to remember

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This is a follow-up article from the first one — The Path from an Engineer to a tech lead(er)

While we had asked folks for key questions that they would like to discuss with a leader like Natraj who transitioned from an IC to a manager to now a CTO, multiple questions came in from first-time managers.

Basis those questions & insights shared by Natraj, here’s a summary of pointers that tech managers should be mindful of:

  1. Project management skills: A tech lead becomes critical in successful delivery of any project. They are not only expected to manage engineers, but also keep in mind the needs of business, product and users.

    • Continuous communication & collaboration: Here’s a framework that you can take inspiration from while working on one of your first projects

    • Fair translation: While discussing with non-engineers, you might want to be more conscious of conveying the message well without drowning into jargons

    • Balancing Tech Debt <> Project Timelines: A tech lead does the job of bridging the gap between business urgency and the time required to handle complex technical tasks.

  2. Continuous hands-on experience: The tech landscape evolves quite frequently and as a leader, to be in-sync with your team’s language & maintaining communication, it becomes essential to stay up-to-date. It does not necessarily mean coding on applications everyday, but to understand the what, how & why of new technologies. Here’s some ways:

  3. Giving feedback: As critical as it is to give feedback to team mates, it’s equally important how the feedback is given:

    • Frequent & consistent feedback: Giving feedback before the context is lost, becomes important and critical. Additionally, sharing drastically contradicting feedback can be confusing for the teammate so it’s important to be thoughtful and consistent while sharing feedback.

    • Actionable feedback: While feedback is important, providing actionable guidance without spoon-feeding is equally important as it helps in making improvements, faster. Sometimes, giving feedback in informal settings helps in being more candid and easier to consume.

    • Here’s a template that you can use as an inspiration to prepare performance reviews

  4. Decision making: A large part of being a manager is about making decisions that impact the work of multiple people. Here are some pointers to keep in mind:

    • Acknowledging bad decisions: As a manager, there is a need to quickly correct bad decisions to prevent them from becoming catastrophic or impacting customer goals

    • Building trust and fairness: As a manager, it is critical to enable conversations within the team, especially before taking a crucial decision. Some key points:

      • Important to acknowledge the conflicting point of view

      • Communicating reasoning for decisions, irrespective of conflicts

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