I got a promotion yesterday. Effective more or less immediately, I am the manager of one of two teams of developers. I’ll have two great developers reporting directly to me – one of whom is on vacation and is probably going to learn of this change while reading this very blog entry when he comes back next week. Hi, Bryan! – and my very first task is to hire a third. The first thing I learned about being a manager is that there are a hell of a lot more things to think about when you’re the crux of a hiring decision than when you’re just another interviewer voice.
I’ve told a couple people about this already, and there have been two repeated questions: First, “Are you still going to be able to do technical work?” Absolutely. In fact, it was one of my requirements for accepting. This is where I’ve always wanted to go with my career – hence my dual BS in Computer Science and Management – but I never (ever) (EVER) want to stop coding or playing with new technology. With such a small (and, I believe, low-maintenance) team, I expect to spend at least three-quarters of my time doing exactly what I did last week.
Second, “Did you pursue this, or did your boss just offer it out of the blue?” I think it was a fortuitous combination. The company is growing (we had 4 developers when I started here, we now have 8, plus 2 interns, and hope to add 3 more before the end of the calendar year), and the manager of the development team was having a harder and harder job keeping everything planned. At the same time, I’m one of the most senior developers here, and I believe I’ve had an unofficial leadership position here for a while. I mentioned in my annual review last month that I was interested in more responsibility, and I think that just solidified thoughts my manager had already been having.
This transition will be easier than it could be, otherwise. In fact, these are probably the ideal conditions. There’s no seniority clash. There’s not really anything Broken about the culture in the development group or at the company as a whole. I sincerely enjoy the people I’m working with, and I think they’re all smart and hard working without being jerks or workaholics. I don’t feel the need to change a lot, organizationally, since it’s all working very well. I’ll be able to ease into this new role with some hiring and planning (and soon, budgeting for fiscal ‘09).
I’m scared, but excited. It’s like the clickety-clack part of the roller coaster ride. You know what I mean.
Update 6/5: The new group has a name, although it’s possibly temporary: “Publishing Technology”. We wanted to steer clear of words like “internal” (since we’ll do publisher-facing apps), “tools” (which implies smaller utilities than what we work on), and “workflow” (that’s just a small fraction of our purview). The other half of development is very simply the “Products” group.