I hear it time and time again from technical people, “I would like a management position. I want to make more money.” Make no mistake, moving from a technical role to management is a career change.
First off, technical people in many cases make more than their managers.
Secondly, the skills that make you a great technician, developer, or designer are not the same as those needed by an effective manager.
10 things to consider when moving from a technical role to management
#1 – Communication is key. Do you enjoy communicating with people?
#2 – Do you enjoy coaching and mentoring? Great managers develop their staff. They share information. They recognize the talents of others and use it to everyone’s benefit. Do you honestly want the people around you to be successful?
#3 – Do you take responsibility for things? Are you ready to be a buffer for your team? Can you “take one on the chin”?
#4 – Are you organized? Do you have good retention? Do you “close the loop” on things?
#5 – Will you be able to delegate technical tasks without interfering? Can you stay “out of the weeds”?
#6 – When a task is completed, will you accept the solution even if it is not done your way? Can you be objective and focused on the result?
#7 – Are you a planner? Do you think strategically and employ tactics, as opposed to dealing with specific implementation tasks? Do you think long term?
#8 – Are you able to recognize the technical achievements of your team members? You may no longer be the “hero.” Can you put your ego aside?
#9 – Can you eliminate the noise and identify what is important?
#10 – Can you hold your team accountable? Can you be objective?
#11 - Are you ready to give up some of your technical tasks? (Submitted by John Kirkpatrick, Dec 2014)
As you can see, most technical people need to adjust their mindset in order to become effective managers. It doesn’t happen by accident. Changing your mindset will require a concerted effort. That being said, managers with technical backgrounds often have an advantage over non-technical managers. The technical manager understands at a deep level what their staff is doing and the nuance relative to specific tasks and interdependencies.