Aug 27 2020 08:32 AM
Aug 27 2020 08:32 AM
I have seen so many developers building a successful career and moving up the ranks until one day unexpectedly because of the seniority you find the landscape has completely changed and your responsibilities shifted from technical to management. Most of the time, as technologists, we choose to invest predominantly in developing our technical abilities and ignore the rest.
The journey might look as follows;
The first few years – You study to become an engineer, then enter the market as a junior and for the first few years, you will rely on your hard skills to get the job done. You learn from your leaders. You sense a degree of responsibility, but you can make mistakes in a safe environment and learn from it. You are praised for good work and experience clear and direct feedback. You strive towards continuous improvement.
From Intermediate to Technical Team Lead – In the software industry it is common for the strongest software engineer to promoted to Technical Lead. It is unlikely that you receive formal training on how to lead others and you face new challenges like Time Management, Multitasking, Quality Control. You start to feel accountable for the mistakes made by the team.
From Technical Team Lead to Engineering Architect (in this case Software Solutions Architect) - When you reach the pinnacle of your engineering omnipotence you will be called upon to provide input in operational- and tactical planning meetings and you will likely be asked to play a supportive role in other departments like Sales and Marketing. The years of perfecting your craft are paying off, you are a technical influencer. You are the go-to guy and you feel important.
From Engineering Architect to Manager - Your influence in different areas of the business paid off and senior management trusts your judgment thereby promoting you to take on more responsibility and more control in the form of a managerial position. As you settle into your new role you may find the adjustment to be harder than with previous promotions. This is because unlike your previous positions, for the first time you will be facing a wide range of non-technical duties that will challenge you in ways that your technical skills will not help you at all. With every promotion you are introduced to new challenges and you rely on your knowledge, skill, and experience to ‘level-up’ but this time you face new unfamiliar challenges. You shift from a strong technical focus to a management focus. You need to motivate staff, keep teams engaged, decide on recruitment, restructure teams, work assignments, and career development. These may seem like complex challenges as the dynamics of human behavior cannot be linked back to technical terms and you may need to adjust your problem solving thought patterns. Through your decisions and actions, your influence on individuals stretches beyond the workplace, and work hours. You have a direct effect on the lives and possibly the families of those under your care. You realize you carry a great responsibility and you have a longing to be a good leader and, in this need, you start to discover a whole new world of non-technical principles.
Manager to Director of Engineering and beyond - Your days are fragmented into a series of small activities, seldom lasting more than an hour each. You attend lots and lots of meetings. You manage stakeholder’s expectations and at times it feels like you are being pulled in different directions. Your role shifts from team-centric (doing what is best for the team) to organization-wide (doing what is best for the organization). For your team, you want to set clear goals and eliminate noise but at the same time, you want to be flexible and responsive towards organizational needs. Getting this balance right requires a lot of practice and even seasoned leaders still struggle with it. You rely on the technical skills of others too so that you can make quick, accurate, and wise decisions and you carry the consequences and impact of those decisions. You are now becoming a business-minded individual, an entrepreneur, a strategic planner. It is usually at this point in your career that your lack of soft skills is holding you back and your technical skills no longer propel you forward at the velocity it used to.
Isn’t it fascinating that from start to success the landscape changes completely?
You set out to become an engineer, and later you may find yourself co-leading an organization or divisions within an organization, not directly relying on the hard skills which took so many years to acquire and refine.
Your technical experience and skills still serve as the basis for good decision making and innovation but to truly be impactful you now need a new set of skills.
If you are constantly distracted and if your mind is endlessly preoccupied with psychological and emotional distress, and if you spend more time trying to understand human behavior than perfecting your profession you will not become the best version of yourself.
Every ounce of energy and every thought directed towards understanding a workplace situation is done at the cost of perfecting your craft. The more you spend on trying to cope in the workplace, the further away you move from reaching the pinnacle of performance.
Aug 27 2020 11:20 AM
Aug 27 2020 04:30 PM