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Developers Should Not Become Managers (Unless They Should)


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Far too often, developers move into management roles for the wrong reasons and without adequate preparation. The erroneous view that management represents a promotion for developers causes mismatched expectations and undue stress on new managers and their teams. We need to talk about what management really is and why it’s so difficult for developers to succeed. If you’ve ever thought about becoming a manager or are afraid you may one day be forced to, come hear about what it’s really like so you can make an informed decision about where to take your career.

As a developer-turned-manager, Jamie has stumbled over enough of the hurdles making the transition to clearly explain why you should 100%, absolutely, categorically, without a doubt not follow the same path he did (unless maybe you should).

Published in: Career
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Developers Should Not Become Managers (Unless They Should)

  1. 1. Developers Should Not Become Managers (unless they should) Jamie Strachan Application Development Manager Info-Tech Research Group @jamiestrachan
  3. 3. Junior Developer Senior Developer Manager
  4. 4. What do you love about being a dev?
  5. 5. Intangible outcomes Tangible outcomes
  6. 6. Long term results Short term results
  7. 7. Manager schedule Maker schedule
  8. 8. Lots of people Few people
  10. 10. I am a Developer
  11. 11. I am a person who develops
  12. 12. Junior Developer Senior Developer Manager
  13. 13. People who develop People who manage
  14. 14. Why would you want to be a manager?
  15. 15. Growth
  16. 16. Challenge
  17. 17. Force multiplier
  18. 18. Development can be good preparation for management
  19. 19. Problem solving
  20. 20. Systems thinking
  21. 21. Empathy
  22. 22. Technical understanding
  23. 23. To code or not to code?
  24. 24. "Make the change easy — Kent Beck (warning: this may be hard), then make the easy change”
  25. 25. How can I make the change easy so they can make the easy change?
  26. 26. How do I know if management is for me?
  27. 27. Learn from managers
  28. 28. Hone your instincts
  29. 29. Find leadership opportunities
  30. 30. What if management isn’t for me?
  31. 31. Awesome! Agile Team Lead? Product Owner? Teacher? Evangelist? Developer? Tech Lead?
  32. 32. Takeaways 1. Manager is not a promotion from Developer 2. You are a person who can grow their skills 3. DO think about your career 4. DON’T limit yourself to Dev → Manager
  33. 33. Developers Should Not Become Managers BUT MAYBE YOU SHOULD @jamiestrachan
  34. 34. Resources Books • The Manager’s Path, Camille Fournier • How F*cked Up Is Your Management? Melissa + Jonathon Nightingale • Managing Humans, Michael Lopp Blogs/Newsletters/Articles • The Co-Pour ( • Rands in Repose ( • Elided Branches ( • Software Lead Weekly ( • A Voight-Kampff Test for Identifying Engineering Managers
  35. 35. Resources Meetups • #TeamLeadTO ( Meetup/) Slack Groups • Rands Leadership Slack ( leadership-slack/) • Engineering Managers Slack ( Conferences • The Lead Dev • Calibrate