AgileByExample

David Anaya

David has been a software engineer for almost 20 years, working in consultancy and product, from backend to frontend to mobile, as a software developer in waterfall teams to tech lead in agile ones.

In 2019 he decided to jump into full-time management at Koa Health, something that was even more challenging due to the pandemic and the company going into distributed mode.

Should you go from individual contributor to manager?

You are a seasoned engineer. You have been at your current company for a number of years with a track record of successful projects and the respect of your peers, so when a new engineering manager position opens up at your company your manager suggests that this would be a good opportunity for you to get a promotion. You are not so sure about it, the job description seems a bit unclear and you really are not a people person, but on the other hand it would be a change after all these years, and also your opportunity to improve a few things you’ve been complaining about for a long time. Should you accept the challenge and step into the unknown or remain inside the safety of your cave?

I faced this same question a couple of years ago and decided to step into management. Since then, I’ve talked to people that were trying to decide on the same topic and wanted to know about my experience as a new full-time manager. My recommendation, if you are thinking about it and you have at least one other reason than it being a promotion, is to go for it, as you will learn a lot about yourself and your team, and this will be super valuable for your career even if you decide that management is not for you.

In this session, I want to share some learnings and strategies that helped me navigate this period. These won’t help you to become a good manager, because I’m still trying to figure out that myself, but they will allow you to step into this new role more confidently and make the most of it so that, when you have to decide if you want to stay in the management path or go back to being an individual contributor, you can make a fundamental decision.