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Pedja Zolinsky01:09:05

How does one get into management as a dev with almost a decade of experience? I've realized over the years that I just don't have "it" to become a great developer. I asked this question on reddit and I was met with hostility. "So you're a terrible developer and you want to move into management so you can be terrible at that?" This statement frustrated me because I hear all sorts of contradiction. Developers want a manager who has been in their shoes, however I also hear about great developers being pushed into management despite not being good managers, implying that great developers don't necessarily make great managers. So which is it?

R.A. Porter02:09:09

Have you taken on lead/mentoring activities of your own accord? The best way to get into management is to start managing something, such as junior developers, projects, schedules, anything that gives you experience in delegating, guiding, etc. As a lot of that - project scheduling, scrum master tasks, etc. - is work other developers won't want to do, it might not be hard to find a few ways to step up and get some experience. You'll need to figure out if you have the requisite personality and talents to actually perform well as a manager; also, you'll need to start demonstrating a willingness to take on those responsibilities and duties. No one is likely to hand you the keys to a team unless you show them you've the capability to drive a team.

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R.A. Porter02:09:37

You also have to be prepared to discover that you either dislike managing, or lack the "it" managing requires. That would suck, but it's a possibility.


I'm sorry that you've been met with hostility on this. +1 on what @U01GXCWSRMW said on dipping you toes by start managing something. Probably at your current workplace instead of looking for a new role elsewhere. Stepping back a bit, what particularly about management attracts you? I'm asking because programmer -> management is just one possible lateral moves. And as Porter noted, the grass isn't necessarily greener on that side.


what do you mean by not having "it" to become a great developer?


The skillset to be a good manager is very different to that required to be a good developer and there are definitely people who can excel at management that never really "clicked" as developers (and vice versa). Over my career I've had several opportunities to lead teams at various levels up to full on "management" (where my role was primarily managing other developers and not really doing much development myself). I've always been happier as a developer -- I'm just not much of a "people person" and a lot of the administrivia that management requires is just not my "thing". All of the best managers I've had were developers at some point in their career so I definitely agree with your comment about managers needing to understand what a developer does and how they work. As R.A. Porter says, the best way to get into a position where you can start to move up the management ladder is to start taking charge, taking responsibility, and taking care of other developers. If you have management potential, other developers will happily let you take this on because you'll be freeing them of work and responsibilities they probably don't really want. As others step back and you take on more, you should find your management chain more inclined to give you more authority and more responsibility and you should be able to transition. It will be easier to take that first step within your current organization, then you'll have some experience on your resume should you wish to look for management work elsewhere. I was lucky, early in my career, that my team lead left and I was able to show that I could take over their role, even as a young developer, and that company let me rise up, until I was running both the small development team and the small consulting team. That experience was enough to allow me to take on team lead and "low" management roles elsewhere and to reach director level at Macromedia (where I ran the company's architecture team for several years). So I've been a hiring manager for about 25 years at this point although, as noted above, I'm really happiest when I'm fully immersed in purely technical work as a developer. Good luck!


I will be really annoying and answer a question with a question, are you wanting to be a manager or a leader? Managers manage tasks/projects/programmes etc., leaders lead people? Some do both but usually not well!

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Drew Verlee06:09:46

I feel like i "manage" people as a developer, myself and those around me. Mostly it's a matter of hearing what people are saying, and not what i want them to be saying.


When I hear "manager", I assume performance reviews, goal-setting, dealing with HR, resolving conflicts, organizing meetings, etc...