Transition from tech expert to people manager
9 December 2016
Landing a promotion is exciting, to say the least. It means you’ve been recognised for your hard work, and you’re progressing your career to exciting new heights. But what if that much-sought-after promotion suddenly landed you way out of your depth? Unfortunately, this is an all-too-often occurrence, particularly in the IT world.
Exemplary tech professionals are often promoted to a managerial position, where they’ll be in charge of a whole team of experts. The problem here, however, is the shift from using technical skills to using interpersonal skills.
This career advancement is a fantastic achievement for IT professionals, and certainly something worth working towards. However, you need to be prepared if you want to do your best in this role.
Tech worker to manager: how does it differ?
A managerial role differs from a team member role significantly, but by far the biggest transformation regards interpersonal dealings.
Instead of just relying on the technical skills that you’re good at (and most likely got you promoted), you’ll now need to be more aware of a number of things including employee satisfaction, office politics, coordinating projects and managing the employees involved with those projects.
How can you prepare yourself for this transition?
The following three steps are a great starting point to help you hit the road running.
First, a global look
A manager needs a broader, top-level perspective of their team’s operations. Previously, you were probably so busy with the nitty-gritty of daily tech tasks that you didn’t have this global perspective.
Begin by mapping out current infrastructures and systems of the team, to give you a better look at how things currently work and potential improvement areas.
It may feel tempting to action new methods immediately in order to fix gaps or inefficiencies, but try to resist. Becoming a manager one day and making big changes the next will likely make your team feel unsettled.
Secondly, a finite perspective
Schedule a brief meeting with each member of your team. This should be a relaxed conversation about what they enjoy and don’t enjoy about their current role, what they expect from you and what their goals are in terms of career advancement, salary and so on.
This will show your genuine interest in their perspective, as well as help you further identify actionable change you should make.
And finally, introspection…
Don’t only analyse the team’s strengths and weaknesses, but also your own. Start with identifying the skills you need to work on the most, which may include:
- Ability to delegate
- Briefing projects clearly
- Hiring employees who suit your team and role requirements
- Providing encouragement
- Effectively communicating.
Seems like a lot? Don’t panic—no one is expecting you to become ‘World’s Best Manager’ overnight. Just work on them one at a time, as a project of continual self-improvement.
A promotion from tech professional into IT manager may seem overwhelming, but it’s certainly worth the effort. A managerial position within the field will open up a whole host of opportunities, plus pave the way to an exciting, fruitful and rewarding career.
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