Anyone who mentors regularly knows their sweet spot – the person who he can help the most (and who he feels most satisfied about helping). For me, that’s always been the ambitious software developer who wants more of something, even if she isn’t sure what she wants. The first guess is usually manager, and the first conversation goes like this:
Emma: I’ve been thinking about what the next step in my career. (it usually sounds corporate like this.)
Scott: That’s great – most engineers don’t think about this. I’d love to help. What are you thinking?
Emma: I want to be a manager.
Scott: OK, why? What is about a manager that’s interesting to you?
OK, it’s not usually dead silence, but I’ve probably had this conversation a dozen times in just the last year and have never heard an answer that was coherent or well-thought-through. This isn’t a big surprise: as Rands notes, developers don’t know what managers do.
Additionally, most engineers don’t tell their peers, because it doesn’t always feel OK to tell others you want to be a manager – it can seem like the sellout/ungeek thing to do. (Just Say No to Management, Kids.)
I’m the blogger and I’m here to help.
Starting real soon now, this series of articles will talk about this process – of figuring out if you want to be a manager, deciding to pursue management, planning ahead and getting started. Of course, I’m not the first person to write on these topics – Scott Berkun has two essays here – but I hope this generates some conversation.