Staying Sane as a Technical Manager, Part 2
A year and a half ago I wrote about the three little words that are critical for a Technical Manager to understand.
Know your limits.
As I look back over the past year and a half, plus the years leading up to it, I am more and more convinced that this is an extremely important concept to put into practice.
Over the past year+, my team has almost doubled in size (plus an intern or two in the summers). We are all working on different features, but on the same (or similar) products, so we weren’t as “scattered” as we were before I split us up. However, juggling as many balls as we have, being an effective technical manager was becoming more and more difficult for me. Most specifically my organizational skills and managing priorities were lacking. I’ve been working hard to manage the team, manage priorities, and keep my technical chops because like at many software companies that started as a small start-up, the technical manager is implicitly expected to manage and be the technical expert.
Eventually I realized that this lifestyle is ultimately unsustainable, and I couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. That’s bad for me, bad for my family, and bad for the company. I needed to recognize that I was moving well outside my limits. I had to make a decision: stop being a technical expert, and just be a true technical manager, or, stop being a manager and remain as a technical expert.
The decision wasn’t hard… I enjoy code way too much.
Ahhh, this feels so much better! Now I can focus on things that have long interested me but I just plain haven’t had time for. Like, for example, digging deep into NDepend to help keep that 10,000 foot view of our products that I couldn’t do before.