Shifting from an individual contributor role to a managerial role in tech can do wonders for your salary. But making the shift can be easier said than done. While your individual role requires mastery of technical skills, a managerial role calls for a diverse skill set that includes technical competence, business acumen, and people skills.
If you’re interested in switching to a management track, it’s time to master these key competencies whether it’s by taking on more projects, finding a mentor, or pursuing continuing education courses.
Study strategies for motivating different personality types
Managers play an essential role, as Google learned when it tried to embrace a flat organizational structure. The challenge is finding good managers.
As today’s companies focus on attracting and retaining highly skilled people, they want managers who understand how to get the most out of their teams without compromising employee satisfaction, engagement, and work life balance.
Great managers accomplish this by identifying how to keep different employees motivated. For instance:
Building team trust by communicating clearly and practicing transparency
Developing goals and objectives tied to specific incentives like promotions or raises
Providing a sense of purpose by communicating how the team’s work ties into the company’s larger strategy
Empowering employees to take the lead on projects by avoiding micromanagement
Learning about the individual goals and challenges of employees through dedicated one-on-one meetings
Understand the big picture and how your company fits in the marketplace
Look beyond your individual contribution and think bigger. Ask yourself:
How does my team deliver value?
What other teams do we work with, and how is their cooperation vital to our success?
How is our company performing? Are we innovating? Do we have a strong brand?
How does our company fare in the marketplace? Who is our competition? How do we stack up against them?
A technical individual contributor thinks in terms of their personal responsibilities and goals while a manager thinks about the health of the larger organization.
Pursue continuing education courses in management
One of the biggest mistakes people make is assuming that management is not a skill. It’s just a role you’re given if you’re good at your individual role. In reality, an excellent programmer won’t suddenly become a fantastic manager or director.
Tobias Lütke, Shopify CEO, said that when he first stepped into the CEO role, he was “not good”, joking that, “the wonderful thing about computers is when you tell them what to do they’ll keep doing it and they’ll do it until you tell them to stop. It turns out humans are not like that.”
In other words, managing people is not easy. The good news is it’s a skill that can be acquired, and it’s worth pursuing courses in conflict resolution, people management, negotiation, strategic leadership, and organizational behavior.
What’s more, many companies offer tuition stipends to support their employees’ professional development. If your company doesn’t offer one, write a business case for a professional development budget and present it to your manager.
Share with a mentor and network
It’s tempting to keep big plans hidden until you’re fully confident, but this is not the most efficient use of time. Instead, start networking within your organization and introduce yourself to different teams.
Find out if your company offers a mentorship program that pairs employees early in their career with executives. This is a great forum for one-on-one support and candid advice from someone in a management position. Plus, it puts your goals on the radar of someone who has influence.
In addition, network with professionals outside your company. Your future management position may come from another organization, so making industry connections is a way to maximize your chances of landing a managerial role in tech.
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