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Transitioning From Developer To Management?

kdawson posted about 7 years ago | from the first-don't-get-a-pointy-haircut dept.

Programming 541

An anonymous reader writes "After 15+ years as a code monkey, mostly doing back-end systems design / development, I was surprised by recent developments at my workplace that have resulted in my being transitioned into a dual architect / managerial role within the next few weeks. While I am somewhat confident at this point in my career in my experience and training for an architect-type position, I have serious concerns about being able to properly fulfill the role as manager. Aside from 'Become a manager in 2 days' type books, what resources would you recommend I look to for guidance in this transition?"

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Recommend (4, Funny)

blantonl (784786) | about 7 years ago | (#20391223)

>> what resources would you recommend I look to for guidance in this transition

A comb for the pointy-hair on the sides of your head and wax for the shinny top.

Re:Recommend (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20391299)

Managers don't really do much of anything. If you have minimal people skills then you should have no trouble acting as a manager.

Re:Recommend (5, Insightful)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 7 years ago | (#20391603)

This is akin to saying the metadata in the data dictionary does nothing, only the rows in the tables matter.

Managers don't really do much of anything.
This can be true in a passive sense, when a good manager acts as a blast shield to protect the team from things such as
  • scope creep from the customer
  • asinine company policies
  • other marauding managers
  • 60 Minutes, and other quasi-human monsters

Re:Recommend (2, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 7 years ago | (#20391705)

Managers don't really do much of anything. If you have minimal people skills then you should have no trouble acting as a manager
Indeed, that's why every manager, on the first day, gets a private meeting with Dr. Spaalzbad and his faithful assistant, Gorky, who proceed to remove his brain and replace it with shredded paper from Legal. Thus the new manager can becoming overtly concerned over the mundane, stupid and non-existent, say the most moronic things, and possess no evidence of intelligence.

Scott Adams' "serious" books FTW. (4, Informative)

Tackhead (54550) | about 7 years ago | (#20391423)

> A comb for the pointy-hair on the sides of your head and wax for the shiny top.

Do whatever the little white dog tells you to do.

Actually, I would Scott Adams' "serious" books: The Dilbert Principle and Way of the Weasel are pretty good explanations of why managers act the way they do. Your typical PHB usually has very good business reasons for the stupid things he does, but since he's technically incompetent, he'll attempt to achieve these valid business goals by means that are unlikely at best, and impossible at worst.

Witness our earlier Slashdot thread about a judge not knowing that "storing" logs in RAM is fundamentally different than "storing" logs on disk. She's got a good legal reason to expect that when someone is told to "turn over the logs", that they turn over all the logs. But because she's an idiot, she's very angry and confused when she finds out that RAM just. doesn't. work. like. that.

Your advantage is that you've got the technical background; the Adams books will explain good (techie) management skills in language that you can use with fellow PHBs. Tell your fellow managers "I make sure my employees can leave by 5pm", and they'll wonder why you're harboring a bunch of slackers. But if you phrase it as "if my employees can't get their work done by 5, then the fault is with our management/scheduling/business processes, so let's, as managers, figure out how to improve those processes", and all of a sudden the PHBs love it.

PHBs are funny that way. As soon as it sounds like it's their idea, they love it. Your job, as a non-pointy-haired boss, is to make sure that the ideas your fellow PHBs "love" will be good ones.

Re:Scott Adams' "serious" books FTW. (0, Offtopic)

OrangeTide (124937) | about 7 years ago | (#20391553)

turning over a copy of ram is possible if you run VMWare, without even shutting down the system. (yes I work for vmware)

Re:Scott Adams' "serious" books FTW. (1)

Ajehals (947354) | about 7 years ago | (#20391635)

I'm curious, Would that include turning over a complete copy of the RAM on the host or just the emulated client?

Moreover could you define what a "copy of the RAM" is? Is is a single one off or do you need to continually copy the RAM (maybe diff it??) to make it available? The point here is moot anyway, I would assume that the Judge in this case is perfectly well informed, the aim, after all, is to get the IP addresses of those connecting to the service, not the whole contents of the systems RAM. I am sure TorrentSpy handing over a list of User IP's would be sufficient.

Re:Scott Adams' "serious" books FTW. (4, Insightful)

jskiff (746548) | about 7 years ago | (#20391569)

But because she's an idiot, she's very angry and confused when she finds out that RAM just. doesn't. work. like. that.

She's not an idiot. She's just not technical. There is a big difference between the two.

Your advantage is that you've got the technical background

For now. You have a technical background for now. I used to be an engineer, and a pretty good one at that. I was certainly one of the top technical people at the company when it came to understanding and solving customer problems. I've been a manager for two years now...and my technical skills are shot. I know enough to keep up with conversations, but ask me to do any real down and dirty troubleshooting and I'm back to being a babe in the woods.

It's not that I dislike the manager role; it presents some interesting challenges. But don't rely on your technical skills to save you when you're flailing as a manager, because within a month or two your former co-workers and now underlings will be passing you by.

Re:Scott Adams' "serious" books FTW. (1)

Vaticus (1000378) | about 7 years ago | (#20391607)

Somebody mod parent up! I've got no points right now :( This is an incredibly insightful and true comment! Well done jskiff!

Uh, no, she's an idiot. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20391687)

Context matters.

Someone who isn't technical would be your grandmother, to whom RAM doesn't matter; nor does her idea of how RAM works really matter to anyone. (Other than to simply annoy you when talking about computers with yer grandma.)

A Federal Judge who has no interest in stopping by even their local mom and pop computer shop to learn about something she so obviously knows nothing about, when the livelihood of people is at stake, is an idiot.

Combs not needed (1)

infonography (566403) | about 7 years ago | (#20391631)

ECT (Electro Convulsive Therapy) aside from the sudden increase in pay has a few other positive side effect like those nice pointy hair spikes.

best management book ever...EVER! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20391225)

"How to Win Friends and Influence People"'s a cheezy title, but an awesome book!

Re:best management book ever...EVER! (3, Funny)

cyphercell (843398) | about 7 years ago | (#20391319)

nah, he needs to read The Prince by Machiavelli, a thousand and two times.

Re:best management book ever...EVER! (1)

Duhavid (677874) | about 7 years ago | (#20391639)

Read both.

Re:best management book ever...EVER! (5, Informative)

DaftShadow (548731) | about 7 years ago | (#20391431)

Mod this guy up. It may be a shallow seeming title, but it is filled with a highly compassionate and true set of advice!

Much like The Art of War is really about how to make Peace, How to Win Friends and Influence People [] is not about how to make others just do what you want... it is about understanding the elements of social conduct which make us tick. It's about how to inspire the people you work with. How to hold your tongue, when you truly shouldn't say anything. How to accept the good ideas of your coworkers, and how best to speak when their idea isn't so great.

It's one of the most valuable books on social conduct that you can ever read. Check it out.

- DaftShadow

BEWARE (5, Insightful)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | about 7 years ago | (#20391237)

Ever heard the saying "people are promoted to the level of their own incompetence"? Unless you're comfortable with a management job I would strongly recommend you *NOT* take it. You're right in doing some research and self-education before accepting the job, but while you study up keep asking yourself "do I REALLY want to do this?"

Re:BEWARE (2, Funny)

C0y0t3 (807909) | about 7 years ago | (#20391247)

But.. but... the Money!


megaditto (982598) | about 7 years ago | (#20391463)

No, it's easy to be a good manager. The most important thing is to start projecting your power right away. If the sheeple see you as a weak leader, not using your authority, your reputation is lost forever (yes, it's even OK to be an incompetent leader as long as you come out "strong" and can lead them somewhere)

Re:BEWARE (2, Interesting)

daeg (828071) | about 7 years ago | (#20391517)

It's often better to lead someone confidently off a cliff than meandering and starving through a jungle.

At least with a cliff, the pain is short-lived and they can replace you quickly.


Original Replica (908688) | about 7 years ago | (#20391503)

"do I REALLY want to do this?"

Key to that is what does the company expect from you and what is the managerial style of your would-be-boss? If you are going to be in charge of people who's jobs you know how to do well, and your would-be-boss is more team leader than dictator in their approach they you will probably be fine. Just delegate all the work, then facilitate the work being done in your department. The best managers I've ever worked with (I'm freelance, I've worked with alot of different types) have done little to no "work" but did everything they could to make it easy for me to do my work. Basically they were making sure that I had all the parts and information I needed, and that the parts and information for the next step would be there in time. Shielding me and my coworkers from the majority of upper management silliness was the other big thing, and the part I would guess you would like the least, which is why I wondered about your would-be-boss. A manager that knows the work from the bottom up can be a great boon to a department, and make for a very enjoyable and productive work environment for those under them.


mce (509) | about 7 years ago | (#20391617)

The saying is true, but often misunderstood and misused.

Having gone through a similar transformation about 4 and a bit years ago (and something similar but less extreme about 14 years ago), I can only say that I'd be very scared of an (ex-)techie who, when he turns manager, feels comfortable from the start, or even before he accepts the offer. That person may have been overlooked as a talent and his promotion hence long overdue, but that woudl be a (frustrated) exception. More likely than not such a person is an overconfident ignoramus who will create a mess.

The "people are promoted to the level of their own incompetence" saying, a.k.a. The Peter Principle, does not say that you should only be promoted when you are confident that you can handle it. It says that people who are promoted and then prove that they can not handle it generally get stuck at that level, as opposed to either climbing even further up the ladder or being demoted back to the job or level they can handle.

Any promotion must be based on the assessment that the person in question: 1) can handle the job to a sufficient extent to get started (possibly with assistance by senior coach, depending on the circumstances, risk, and availability); and 2) will be challenged beyond his current comfort zone, but able to rise up to meeting it.

On the other hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20391643)

Managers who actually understand the technologies being used by their team are the best kind. When your team sees a technical problem with some decision or other, you can understand their concerns with a minimum of demonstration, and can also more intelligently evaluate the implications of their proposed alternatives (if not propose some of your own).

However, once you are a generation behind the times technology-wise, this could become a bit of a need to be able to reframe your perspectives to fit the new technological environment. Rules of thumbs and best practices from five to ten years ago are a good way to make your system an unmaintainable underperforming piece of junk today.

First rule (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20391239)

Do not ask; only tell!

Word Processor (1, Flamebait)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 7 years ago | (#20391241)

In my opinion, your most important resource is your word processing program (hopefully OpenOffice). Using that, you can polish up your resume and find a better job doing what you're trained for and have experience in, instead of allowing yourself to be promoted until you fail.

Re:Word Processor (1)

Zeebs (577100) | about 7 years ago | (#20391515)

Of course because trying is the first step to failure.

Re:Word Processor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20391585)

And the lesson is: never try.

Re:Word Processor (2, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 7 years ago | (#20391679)

You seem to be implying that he should try it first.

My response is "why?"

Have you ever tried a career as a hair stylist? Why not? You never know, you might be really good at it.

You probably haven't tried it because you're not trained for it, you never studied for it, and most of all, you weren't interested in it. (My apologies if you really are a hair stylist, but given this forum's nature, I think it's a pretty safe assumption you aren't, so it should be a good example.)

It's the same with this guy's new position. What makes these morons above him think he has any skill at management, or even any interest? This seems to be a fundamental flaw in managerial thinking: that everyone else wants to be a manager too.

I have a technical job because that's what I studied for, and what I was interested in. If I wanted to be a manager, I would have majored in "Management Science" instead. That's the degree for people who want to manage. If companies want managers, these are the people they should be hiring. They don't move software developers into marketing roles; they hire marketing people for that. They don't move software developers into human resources roles; they hire HR people for that. They don't move software developers into finance roles; they hire finance people for that. So why don't they hire managerial people for management roles?

The best advice won't come from a book. (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | about 7 years ago | (#20391243)

It will come from the people to manage.

Always listen to them and hear what they're telling you.

Re:The best advice won't come from a book. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20391565)

Always listen to them and hear what they're telling you.

Mmmm...yeah. You see, we're putting the coversheets on all TPS reports now before they go out. Did you see the memo about this?

Yeah. If you could just go ahead and make sure you do that from now on, that will be great. And uh, I'll go ahead and make sure you get another copy of that memo, mmm'k?

Re:The best advice won't come from a book. (2, Insightful)

bhmit1 (2270) | about 7 years ago | (#20391597)

It will come from the people to manage.
A good mentor would also be important. Start having lunch with an old boss that you really liked.

Management is realtively simple (5, Insightful)

DrRobert (179090) | about 7 years ago | (#20391245)

1. Treat others as you would expect to be treated
2. Never assume that anyone has nothing to add to a conversation
3. Keep your shit together; be organized.
4. Realize that even if you follow the above rules there will be politics and CYA that will make you miserable from time to time.

Re:Management is realtively simple (4, Funny)

mcmonkey (96054) | about 7 years ago | (#20391499)

5. Be excellent to each other!

Bad idea (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20391251)

If you aren't comfortable in your abilty to manage people you shouldn't do it. You will be doing yourself and those who work under you a great disservice. Good developer != good manager.

Re:Bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20391599)

If you aren't comfortable in your abilty to manage people you shouldn't do it.

Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.
-Douglas Adams

Some people like leaders who are aware of their own limitations. Other people like leaders who exude confidence.

Whatever leadership style you choose, there's somebody out there who isn't going to like it. The best you can hope for is to choose a leadership that you happen to like yourself. Hopefully, if the company you work at is a good fit for your personal style then most other people will like your leadership style as well.

Running shoes.... (5, Informative)

GuyverDH (232921) | about 7 years ago | (#20391261)

Seriously though, once you've semi-transitioned into a management position, don't expect to have any time to do any other work during normal hours.

You'll spend 120% of your time in meetings, doing paperwork, reporting on issues to upper management, delivering managements responses to underlings and never have a moment to yourself.

You'll find yourself doing your own tasks after that, so that a normal 40 hour week will become a normal 60 to 80 hour week, and you'll still feel like you're falling behind.

Re:Running shoes.... (1)

PiSkyHi (1049584) | about 7 years ago | (#20391341)

and the whole time you are doing this, you may find the occasional second to realize that you haven't actually achieved anything. If it were me, I would long for the days when I could work hard when I know I need to and be content with the fast and the slow of it all.

resources? (1)

veganboyjosh (896761) | about 7 years ago | (#20391267)

a red stapler, a flashlight, and some bug spray.

Your own experience! (5, Insightful)

jimboinsk (802789) | about 7 years ago | (#20391287)

Take some time to reflect on the managers you've had experience with. List the good and bad traits they had. Think about the hard decisions they made well and the ones they made poorly. Then see how you think your style of management can benefit from those lessons. (This assumes you have already thought about your style of management, otherwise that is step one.)

Code Monkey you say? (1)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | about 7 years ago | (#20391291)

Well, it's obvious what managers do... just listen to the Code Monkey song by Jonathan Coulton - []

Training up your replacements?.... (1)

mikael (484) | about 7 years ago | (#20391293)

Your employers may just be interested in getting you to train up your replacements. Now would seem to be the time to set up your own company and become a consultant/contractor. In this situation I'd be wanting to write a book to raise my profile.

Boot Camp (1)

Moegerty (754391) | about 7 years ago | (#20391297)

The United States Marine Corps Seriously though, I've just been through the same thing, and if you are not willing to tell your coworkers\friends no, you are going to have a hard time. the most difficult part I have had is trying to balance between old friends and new job.

The Dilbert Principle (2, Funny)

John Hasler (414242) | about 7 years ago | (#20391301)

> Aside from 'Become a manager in 2 days' type books, what resources would you recommend I
> look to for guidance in this transition?

The above captioned book has everything you'll need to know.

Where have you been? (1)

kevin_conaway (585204) | about 7 years ago | (#20391303)

What did your previous managers do? Do what they did except improve on the issues that you thought were lacking.

Depending on your organization, I would generally say that a managers job is to make sure her people are happy and productive. That includes kicking them in the ass when the need it, insulating them from corporate BS and finally, making sure they have the resources they need to get their jobs done.

Saving Private Ryan quote... (3, Insightful)

TheLazySci-FiAuthor (1089561) | about 7 years ago | (#20391307)

My favorite bit of wisdom of a superior:

"Gripes go up, not down, always up."

No matter how dumb an idea is from upper management, try to put a positive spin on it to your employees, but if it's truly stupid then gripe like hell about it to your boss!

Development to Managerial - People skills... (5, Insightful)

raydobbs (99133) | about 7 years ago | (#20391321)

As a convert from the front lines of IT (Mainframe operation and network engineering) to management, there are a few things that will help. One, remember - management is more about people skills than technical expertise. This is NOT to say that you will not be amiss to keep your development skills up to snuff. Being able to speak engineer will make you a more suitable manager, as that will be one less barrier for you to cross that other management types will have to scale.

Leaping in does work for some people - but if your company has tuition reimbursement, I would seriously recommend taking management courses in a college environment. While a lot of people seem to think that management is a snap - there is things that seasoned professionals and professors can teach you that will keep you a step ahead of common pitfalls of entry-level managerial work.

If you really MUST do it solo, you could look into obtaining a list of books used in a Business Administration program and seek to study them in your own time. Many have valuable insight into little encountered tid-bits that might not seem valuable at the time - but can crop up at the strangest times and places.

And remember - it's an art as well as a science. A good rounded education will allow you to relate to the more human aspect of management versus the technical part of the development career path you held.

Mentoring (4, Informative)

bobdehnhardt (18286) | about 7 years ago | (#20391325)

Find managers who have styles that you like and respond well to, that have teams that are regarded as highly effective, and that have good reputations with other management types. Talk to them, learn from them, as them for advice. When I transitioned from desktop support to management, I talked to my father (who worked his way up in the glass industry from apprentice to Executive VP, and knew nothing about computers). Learned a ton, and it's helped me greatly.

Also, don't be afraid of asking your upline for guidance and direction. He/she will know that this is your first foray into management, and if they're any good at all, will expect you to ask questions. It's not a sign of weakness to ask when you don't know something.

Finally, think about the bosses you've had over the course of your career. Do the things you liked them doing, avoid the things you didn't like. This is one of the best ways to find what your own management style is.

I found situational leadership model useful (2, Informative)

presidenteloco (659168) | about 7 years ago | (#20391331)

Took a training course in this quite a while back: []

Also, knowing those ENTJ, INTP etc personality types
and how to work with different personalities and
workstyles (including your own), is useful.

Basic leadership principles like consistency,
taking responsibility, listening to concerns, and
giving people real reasons to be motivated and happy
to come to work.
Learning to let go and trusting that your team really
does amplify your own work output if you let them do
the things they know how to do, and support them.

Be firm and focussed, and demand that, when required,
but lighten up and keep it a fun place to work
Don't micromanage everyone, and don't set artificial
and ridiculous targets just for the sake of appearing
organized or in control.

Worse Than Dupes, Worse Than Slashvertisments (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20391347)

It's the "I'd like to share my shitty life and try to make it sound like it is filled with deep choices that require the Internet to band together to solve" stories.

Dude, no one gives a shit about you life.

But not worse than ACs bitching and moaning (5, Insightful)

Infonaut (96956) | about 7 years ago | (#20391535)

Dude, no one gives a shit about you life.

Nobody gives a shit about your comment.

Don't speak for the rest of us, particularly when you don't have the minimal courage required to associate your whining comment with a Slashdot handle. Counterpunchers like you a dime a dozen. Talk when you have something useful to contribute. Otherwise, shut your yap. You may learn something.

Re:But not worse than ACs bitching and moaning (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20391699)

Go fuck yourself punk.

You got that bitch? Stupid little teenagers with Net connections like you are what has turned Slashdot into a shithole.

Good Topic (3, Insightful)

Carcass666 (539381) | about 7 years ago | (#20391353)

I'm going through something similar myself. I've found that I've had to readjust my up-front goals. As a coder, I was more interested in how to accomplish something and, in point of fact, getting it accomplished.

As a manager, I've found it becomes just as important to demonstrate progress (not just results), and to make sure that what has been asked of me is achievable, measurable and makes business sense for the company.

Also, don't underestimate the importance of compliance stuff (SOX if you are with a public company, HIPAA if with a medical organization, PCI for credit cards, etc.). It all seems like a big waste of time but getting through audits and such is critical.

And, for those who say "don't take the management job, ignore them." When they have to move out of mom's basement, they will be more sympathetic to you.

Sun Zi (1)

zeromorph (1009305) | about 7 years ago | (#20391365)

Sun Zi (or Sun Tzu), seriously, it is a big hype in the management world but it is a great work on strategic thinking, really.

Disclaimer: IANAManager, just someone who studied Classical Chinese at University, and from that point of view I would say get this [] not that [] . Or maybe on of the million Sun Zi for manager/marketing/whatever books, but then you got the hype. (1)

DaftShadow (548731) | about 7 years ago | (#20391559) [] has one of the best translations of Sun Tzu's The Art of War available anywhere. I've read multiple translations and this one is my personal favorite. Not only can you read the text, but each line of the book has its own thread on their forums, where people gather to discuss each line. To top it all off, access is completely free!

Print out the html pages, drop it into a report-cover, and you have an instant classic.

- DaftShadow

School of Hard Knocks? (2, Informative)

skoaldipper (752281) | about 7 years ago | (#20391375)

what resources would you recommend I look to for guidance in this transition?
Your spouse and your confidence.

One, you will screw up eventually. Two, screw ups build character and experience. And, three, every CEO has bags of regret he carries with him at all times as a reminder, no matter his formal training or degree. In other words, time, patience, and a good shoulder to lean on. My brother is a VP with Rockwell Corporation. He will tell you the same.

Probably not the answer you were looking for, but, take this virtual pat on your shoulder, and "go get 'em tiger!"

Sometimes common sense is best... (1)

EtoilePB (1087031) | about 7 years ago | (#20391383)

What traits did you really enjoy and admire in previous (or current) managers of yours?

What traits did you really hate and were you frustrated by in previous (or current) managers of yours?

Emulate the former and avoid the latter. Most of the best managers I've had have managed with as much common sense as the company in question would allow, because you're right: a book, even a good one, on how to manage projects and people can only take you so far.

Learn to Listen (1)

chevman (786211) | about 7 years ago | (#20391385)

Having only managed people for a couple years now, my advice would be:

1. Listen to your employees
2. Shut up and listen to your employees more
3. Don't be afraid of confrontation, but do be willing to accept that sometimes the 'right' answer isn't necessarily the 'best' answer.

Learn from others' mistakes. (1)

Cattywampus (19657) | about 7 years ago | (#20391387)

The best managers I've worked with are the ones that remembered all of the things that had frustrated them as an employee in the past, and took those lessons to heart, and acted on them.

Other than that, management is something that takes trial and error. Some people can pull it off, some never do. Books probably won't help that much; you sort of have to already understand the challenges and resources of a manager before you can really 'get' most of the management books that are out there.

Look into certs (4, Interesting)

squarefish (561836) | about 7 years ago | (#20391389)

Project+ [] and CAPM [] are geared towards your need, with the PMP [] focused more towards very well-seasoned project managers.

I just recently became a lead and know from the projects I've worked on, that I would be a better manager. So I'm finally doing something about it and pursuing the project management path. I just picked up the All-in-One CAPM/PMP exam guide and the recommended study path for the CAPM is a month. As with most jobs you'll learn the bulk from doing it, but the cert won't hurt and may give you the jump start and mind set to help you get started.

some folks love certs and some hate them, but I've never had issue with getting them and I've always learned a few things along the way no matter how well I thought I knew a particular topic.

Re:Look into certs (1)

easyEmu (977903) | about 7 years ago | (#20391619)

Do you mean the breath mints? I can understand how that would improve how well received your managerial orders are if you have good smelling breath while you are giving them.

Personally (1)

JamesRose (1062530) | about 7 years ago | (#20391397)

I'd look at what I know, so look at your current boss, look at his characteristics, if he is being promoted fast, copy what he does, if you boss is useless try learning from his mistakes. Your own experience will always teach you more than some book.

Books to read (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20391399)

Getting to Yes
First, Break all the rules
anything by Peter Drucker

Re:Books to read (1)

asn0 (122838) | about 7 years ago | (#20391685)

Two others that I (being a contrarian) love, but you won't find on most "top X" lists:

Simplicity [] , and Work 2.0 [] , both by Bill Jensen. Simplicity Survival Handbook [] is also very useful.

I found these books were helpful both for making my own work/life less-complex, and for helping my staff focus, be more productive, and experience more success.

Managing Logistics Or People? (1)

IConrad01 (1105603) | about 7 years ago | (#20391409)

There are, in my experience, two fundamental 'directions' the title "manager" can go in -- one requires "people skills", the other requires the ability to track data. What advice you would need would depend strongly on which of these two directions you're going in. If it's the latter, there's a strong possibility you won't be that uncomfortable in the transition. In any case -- don't be afraid to play the "ignorance" card; rely on other members of staff -- both below and lateral to your position. Honest workers have more respect for someone who is willing to admit what he doesn't know rather than trying to bluster through.

Manage/Lead (1)

joanofclark (869559) | about 7 years ago | (#20391411)

i would recommend the "Tao of Leadership". Excellent resource for well, everything.

Do you enjoy coding? (1)

stacybro (757940) | about 7 years ago | (#20391429)

Ask yourself "Do I enjoy coding and will I hate my job when I don't get to code any more?"
The only developer turned managers that I know who were successful AND enjoyed their jobs didn't really like to code in the first place.
The ones that did like coding either weren't successful because they spent more time getting their fingers back in the code ( and generally driving their coders nuts ) or they were successful at managing but hated their jobs because they didn't get to code any more.

Peopleware (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20391439)

Peopleware is a great book for this kind of stuff.

My advice (1)

nuzak (959558) | about 7 years ago | (#20391445)

Don't Ask Slashdot. All you'll get are a bunch of tired old rehashed snarky crap responses, half of them from people probably too young to even be working anyway. Ask a manager you respect. If you don't know any that you respect, you probably won't like the job anyway.

Project Management (1)

BrentGH (1148875) | about 7 years ago | (#20391455)

As a good basic starting point go to This is Project Management Institute and it provides good basic material and training. If you become a member then you will be able to obtain some good training PMP certification program.

Good luck, most designers I know that move into management drops back to pure development because they hate all the people problems and management pressure because your project is late.

Management is a lot like Development (1)

PlusFiveInsightful (1148175) | about 7 years ago | (#20391461)

I code a lot less than I used to, and have a few programmers working for me now. Developers are problem solvers, not necessarily coders and coders alone. I find myself still having to solve similarly difficult problems in running a business, managing finances, resources etc and draw heavily on problem solving skills I picked up as a programmer. Why did you start programming in the first place? Because it was easy? There's more to life than computers. If you're up for the challenge there are different types of problems out there outside your comfort zone!

The basics (1)

W6BI (17992) | about 7 years ago | (#20391467)

Praise in public - counsel in private. Don't ever put one of your people down in front of his/her peers. Make sure they have the resources they need; one of your primary jobs is clearing any roadblocks they might have.

Communicate: up, down, and laterally. If your boss ever turns to you in a meeting and says "I hadn't heard that.", you screwed up. There's NO SUCH THING as a good surprise to your boss.

Don't worry about whether your staff like you or not. It's not part of your job description, and if you worry about it, you'll be paralyzed with indecision. Besides, if you do your job well, they at least won't DISLIKE you.

Don't manage. (1, Insightful)

AVee (557523) | about 7 years ago | (#20391477)

"The first myth of management is that it exists. The second myth of management is that success equals skill."

Remember that, always.

Now ask your self, do you want to be a good manager, or a succesfull one?
If you want to be successfull, don't manage unless you absolutely have to. Allways do as the boss asks you to do and allways have someone else available to blame when it fails. Make sure the someone is not in a rank above you, make sure it's not a friend of the boss or his wife. In short, success depends on politics, not management.
If you want to do it right, again, don't manage unless you absolutely have to. Your management always interferes with people who are trying to get their job done. Let them do their work, don't interfere. Except when they don't do their job (properly) or when something prevents them from doing their job, that is when you should be there to manage things.

Not Another Overlord! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20391481)

Please read the following books: Getting Things series by David Allen; Smart and Gets Things Done and Joel on Software by Joel Spolsky; Eric Sink on the Business of Software by Eric Sink; and IT Manager's Handbook - Getting Your New Job Done by Bill Holtsnider (Second Edition). This will get you started. Never forget where you came from (roots) and try to keep some technical skills sharp. Keep your sense of humor and never be afraid of doing the right thing. You will be surprised how rusty your mad skills will get when you are reduced to typing words and numbers and not slingin' code. Good luck!

forget resources (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | about 7 years ago | (#20391493)

Here's your resourse:
Don't let HR hire ANYONE without you being at the final interview. They'll let anyone in but make sure the new people that get hired actually know what they're doing. That way when you say "go write this" they'll do it and it will work. If you don't do that and get losers that suck at programming, you'll end up doing your old job again when the people under you screw it up majorly.

Of all the advice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20391501)

... the most important is the following: Address any issue that comes up directly and promptly, say what you think, and encourage others to do likewise. Leave nothing unsaid or unmentionable.

Everything else is obvious (think about your best bosses, how you'd want to be treated, etc.). But follow the above to the T. It will create immense respect for you -- a manager unafraid of addressing any concern that anyone has, someone who takes everything into account.

Clear Expectations (1)

Nomad the Odd (1139747) | about 7 years ago | (#20391507)

The best advice I can give is be clear, consistant, and explain yourself whenever possible. Make sure that the people you manage understand what is expected and why. One of the most important traits a manager can have is that the people under him believe what he tells them is reasonable, true, and trustworthy. And noone is smooth enough to keep up that impression indefinately unless it's true.

People Skills (1)

cyberianpan (975767) | about 7 years ago | (#20391509)

Well number 1 is "people skills" - now I'm assuming that you have them already but you need to identify + reflect on your strengths & weaknesses in this area. I strongly recommend Emotional Intelligence + Working with Emotional Intelligence [] - this is 2 books in 1 - the 2nd having case studies & examples. Remember you can't be what you are not but you need to gain a little more insight into yourself in order to be on top of others.

On the intellectual side ? Move away from "perfect" solutions- begin to live with having to make optimal, even sub optimal decisions to keep things moving. Remember often having 80% of something today is more important than having 100% next week. Learn to live with being "wrong".

Oh yeah, also when your developers give you a work estimate: multiply it by 2.5 ;-)

Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20391511)

Remember all of the things managers did to piss you off.

Now, with your experience, consider which of those things were actually helpful in developing your career.

Throw out the stuff that isn't, and follow the example your past managers set.

It's not complex, but not easy (5, Informative)

kbob88 (951258) | about 7 years ago | (#20391513)

I've been in and out of management over 20 years in technical work. I don't think it's mysterious or complex, but it's not easy either.

Good resources for you:
  • The people you manage. Ask them and listen. They'll appreciate it, and probably give you good feedback. Remember to filter their comments, especially based on what you know about their personalities.
  • The people you report to. Follow the advice above.
  • Courses at a local college. I wouldn't overdo this, but if you could find a good course on organizational politics and power, that might help. Or it could really suck. Ask around.
  • Slashdot. Ok, maybe not. But other discussion groups might help. Plus you'll be fairly anonymous, and won't have to censor your questions as much.

Some tips:
  • Listen more than you talk.
  • Determine what makes the people above you tick and stay on their good side. To them, you need to appear committed, competent, friendly, and loyal, but not fawning and flattering. And don't bug them too much.
  • Cultivate good, friendly relationships with your staff, but..
  • Set guidelines for your people and stick to them. You've got to enforce the rules. In the end, you're the boss.
  • Be organized and take good notes. It'll save your ass someday.
  • Develop relationships outside your group and those above you. You need to know what's going on so you don't get blindsided.
  • Set metrics and reward achievement.
  • Hire good people and ensure they stay. Can't emphasize this enough. And it's really tough to do.
  • Don't be afraid to get rid of bad people. Not only is their performance bad, but they're lowering everyone else's performance too. You can't be nice to all the people all the time. If you can't do this, you should just be an architect.
  • Raise issues early. Don't be afraid to deliver the bad news. Don't try to hide it. But you've got to have a solution or path forward. As one of my old bosses said: "Come to me with choices not problems."

YMMV, and good luck! (1)

asn0 (122838) | about 7 years ago | (#20391537)

After reading lots of management books, attending management classes, emulating my own managers, I stumbled across the best management resource I've ever found: Manager Tools, [] or podcast via iTunes.

I was in my 3rd management position when I found MT and started applying their advice, made all the difference. They've been where we are (engineering/technical groups), they speak our language, no fluff, and lots of very specific direction (with explanations). My staff was soon bragging to other departments about what a good manager I was, and lobbying other managers to try the same things.

Make sure you dig back into the archives, some of the first ones are the best. Memorable episodes: one-on-ones, running effective meetings, managing your boss, career/resume management, performance reviews

Well, firstly... (1)

ignavus (213578) | about 7 years ago | (#20391539)

Well, firstly, I wouldn't ask Slashdot for advice. I mean, you must be desperate.

Secondly, I would buy a thick book of management jargon. If you cannot say "prioritize" and "going forward" and "methodologies" and stuff like that, how will you ever go forward with the right management priorities and the possibility of blaming someone else?

Thirdly, I would attend a big management course. Now I happen to be selling one right now....

My advice? Go back to the coding now, before they swallow you alive. Alive, I tell you!

Been There (1)

smackenzie (912024) | about 7 years ago | (#20391547)

My advice:

1. Don't completely count out good management books. A few good read-while-you-commute-or-fall-asleep books are: The One Minute Manager, The Essential Drucker and Getting Things Done.

2. Absolutely, as you know, stay on top of good software architecture design patterns and UML. Even if you don't type a single line of code ever again, make sure you can discuss all aspects of an enterprise application using design patterns, SDLC and good practices.

3. Learn Visio (or similar Apple / open source) software, if you don't know it already. You'll want to have a handle on being able to quickly throw up various diagrams from human resource connections to network topography to class diagrams to stupid other things that somehow make any sense at all only when viewed visually.

4. Learn how to successfully deal with issues. I mean lots and lots and lots of issues. And I don't mean software issues. I mean people issues. Everyone has issues.

5. Learn the vocabulary of the people that you might now need to interact with outside of the pure software development world. I don't know your specific situation, but -- if applicable -- learn the vocab of project managers, finance, business development, product development, marketing (blah), etc.

6. If you're going to do a lot of true software development project management, consider picking up the "Head First PMP" book and reading through it. You might even consider getting certified as a Project Manager. Even if you are not specifically a Project Manager per se, I have found that a lot of the knowledge is incredibly useful as a VP of Tech for a small company.

7. Did I mention the thing about people having issues? Exercise, meditate, pray, smoke pot, drink martinis at lunch -- whatever helps you best deal with peoples' issues, because you are going to be smack in the middle with business on the left and software dev on the right!!!

Hope this helps!

Don't do it (1)

drawfour (791912) | about 7 years ago | (#20391549)

One should never be surprised by a promotion into management. If you are surprised, then it means they haven't been giving you things to do to build up your management skills. For example, being a technical lead where you don't have any reports, but lead the development on a product. Or an intern to mentor (complete with an intern project), if your company has interns. Or give you one or two people to manage at first. And of course, management training courses.

If you're not groomed into the role, you are not ready. Management is not something to be taken lightly -- a bad manager can ruin the morale of the people under him, can get overwhelmed by the project management and career development that goes with being a manager, and just overall tank the project.

Books (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20391551)

I would suggest "Good to Great" and "Question behind the Question." My current boss requires the second of his employees and uses the first for his own inspiration. Best guy I've ever worked for.

Peopleware (2, Informative)

therus121 (536202) | about 7 years ago | (#20391575) really the only resource you need as an entry to management. As they say in the book it should be mandated that all managers read is annually (or anally, if they deserve it).

Can't recommend it enough really - it helped me plenty. ts-Tom-DeMarco/dp/0932633439 []

Communication Breakdown (1)

rumblin'rabbit (711865) | about 7 years ago | (#20391577)

You know that tired old saw about the importance of communication? Well, it's going to feel real relevant real quick. You'll be constantly communicating with your employees, prospective employees, management, the internal "clients" for your department, the clients of the company, marketing, the front office, auditors, and God knows who else.

Therefore, I recommend as starters:
  • The Elements Of Style - Strunk and White
  • The Visual Display Of Quantitative Information - Tufte

Best 2 books to start with (1)

Sgt_Jake (659140) | about 7 years ago | (#20391595)

Book 1: Sun Tzu was a Sissy by Stanley Bing. Nuggets of truth awash in satire and dark office humor. It's an easy read and will help you keep your sense of humor when the inevitable soul crushing begins. ;)

Book 2: The first 90 days by Michael Watkins. Pretty easy read but covers how to deal with moving up - most companies are going to give you a trial by fire (I'm pretty sure my company uses a nuclear powered pressure cooker - I see people burn out almost monthly), and I suspect you're likely on your own. This book will help you make the transition work for you.

Good luck.

Old proverb (1)

Gandalf_the_Beardy (894476) | about 7 years ago | (#20391615)

You have two ears and one mouth. Listen more than you talk.

Follow the money (1)

sufijazz (889247) | about 7 years ago | (#20391625)

I am assuming that you are talking about being a people manager and not a project manager.
An important thing I've learnt about managing "resources", especially for people transitioning from a technical background, is to focus on the business needs. Often this might mean that you go for the quickest bang for the buck, and not necessarily the architecturally best solution. This is an example - the point being if you really want to climb the management ladder, your whole outlook should change. You need to be customer-focused in your plans, in your thoughts and in your actions.
Know that you are now responsible not just for your deliverables, but that of your team. So while CYA is an important principle, you need to cover your team too.
I'm sure people will have plenty of advice to give you. At the end of the day, take it easy. Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy. All the best.

Manager Tools (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20391633)

The number one tool I would seriously recommend to you seeking to become a manager or a better one is a site named Manager Tools ( These 2 guys, who have experience with Fortune 500 companies share their experiences via their podcasts with great free advice. Don't take my word for it, check it out.

Being a manager is uninteresting to an engineer (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | about 7 years ago | (#20391661)

I find the idea of being a manager uninteresting and a downgrade in title. You take on more responsibilities and increased legal liability (bet you didn't know managers have certain federal and state legal obligations both for criminal and for civil courts). The pay difference does not offset this liability, in my opinion. And in some cases the pay for managers is less than top tier engineering positions. The thing is, not everyone can be a top tier engineer. But there are plenty of management jobs to go around.

Architect roles vary from extremely interesting top tier jobs, to mundane uninteresting jobs that involve a lot of meetings but little technical expertise. I've worked at companies where architects were there to basically negotiate between top 1% of engineering so that inconsistencies in the proposed design is worked out and that criteria for software meets the criteria for marketing and possibly hardware (if you're hardware+software company, like Cisco for example). criteria includes monetary budget, time to complete, select staff "vital" to the project, general staff allotments, and features.

It's valuable to have a small group of 1 or more people to balance and act as a conduit for all these groups with divergent interests, but often that role is heavy on the social interaction and politics and not so much on the technology. Sometimes this role is served by a manager like a VP of Engineering at a small company or a Director at a larger company. Sometimes it is given the title Project Manager but with the same role as I described, while the title Architect is reserved for the more engineering orient role of architecting the software, database, network, hardware or other technologies.

CTO as a start up is far more interesting. You get to make real decisions and you can dig into the product as deep as you want. Lots of meetings though, but it might be a fair trade to have a project that is "your baby".

Rands in Repose (2, Informative)

exizldelfuego (986808) | about 7 years ago | (#20391675)

Good advice all around in the posts above. A site I've found to be pretty insightful is Rands in Repose [] . He's also a new book titled "Managing Humans" [] . Check it out—I'm a fan.

Chant this mantra: "I don't know - but ... (1)

PatMcGee (710105) | about 7 years ago | (#20391683)

Every time someone asks you a question that you don't already have an answer for:

Say "I don't know - but I'll find out."

The worst managers I've ever had uniformly made up bullshit just to avoid admitting that they didn't know something. They made my life miserable, and often caused substantial damage to the customers.

The next worst admitted they didn't know, but then didn't try to find out.

I know (1)

eclectro (227083) | about 7 years ago | (#20391689)

Get some pet cats. Learn to herd them. And learn how to clean up the mess they make. Watch out for when they want to scratch or bite. And know that they are going to do a certain amount of napping.

Hard choices (1)

timmarhy (659436) | about 7 years ago | (#20391717)

Learn to make hard decisions, even if they make you unpopular. It's what seperates plebs from management, the ability to do unpopular things for the common good.

Throw out the golden rule (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20391719)

One thing that surprised me most when I became a manager for a development team was that the "golden rule" doesn't apply. If you try very hard to be fair and treat the members of your team like you want to be treated, you're going to make all of them unhappy. Instead, you really need to spend some time trying to figure out what they want, where they think they're headed, and what you think they'll be capable of a few years down the road. It'll take a fair amount of time, but if you don't spend that time, you'll never be as good at management as you could be.

What do you need? A referral from Dr. J. Walker, (1)

Minwee (522556) | about 7 years ago | (#20391729)

If you want to manage then you'll have to forget everything you know about the technical side of your former job. You don't have time for it now, and there are people who do that for you.

Get used to meetings. That's your life now. You'll have meetings inside of other meetings. You'll be in two meetings at once in two different rooms. I wouldn't make this up, you know.

Remember those times when you were on call and had to work the occasional weekend? You still do that, only it's all the time now. Any time anything happens, you don't actually get to do it, but you have to know what it is. Remember how you used to work for someone else who set priorities for you? Still happens, only your new boss has a more expensive suit. You will have all the responsibility of your old position, only without any of the ability to do stuff yourself.

37 pieces of flair (1)

StikyPad (445176) | about 7 years ago | (#20391735)

There are plenty of management books out there -- it's hard to go wrong when learning the basics -- and they all pretty much emphasize the same things: effective communication, appreciate where your employees are coming from, demand respect for others in the workplace, lead by example, don't be a pushover, and foster a culture of openness so your employees aren't afraid to tell you what's wrong. If you're not sure how to effectively do any of the above, then The First-time Manager [] is a decent read. But if you're being selected for management, it's probably because your boss(es) have seen you demonstrate those qualities in the first place (unless you're in the military, where advancement is based in large part on factual knowledge that you will almost never use in management).

If you're staying in the same department (or just with the same company), the biggest problem may be the transition from a co-worker relationship to a superior/subordinate relationship. Some people may resent you immediately, and if they don't, they probably will at some point in the future, but if you demonstrate the qualities you require of them, you will likely gain their respect, even if you cannot maintain the same friendship you had. Of course, if you weren't buddies with any of your new underlings (and never, ever call them underlings), that makes things a lot easier.

That said, I hate being a manager/supervisor. The slight (in my experience anyway) increase in pay was never worth the added responsibility, visibility, and stress. My supervisor, for example (for whom I fill in when he's on leave) has 3x the workload, and only makes 3% more. Not only that, but if any of *us* screw up, he's the one held responsible. Middle management can also be lonely; too junior to be good friends with upper management, and too senior to be good friends with your subordinates, so it's good if you have friends outside of the workplace, or at least working in a different area. I'd say the experience is important and necessary -- especially if you want to do something like start your own business, with the possible exception of consulting -- but I've never found it to be a rewarding experience. Under the right circumstances, if I was a team leader or project manager for a creative project, I'd do it again, but in my current line of work, management = TPS reports and scapegoat.
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