From IC into Management 101

Agent J: [Talking to Agent K in the MIB elevator] All right, I’m in. ’Cause there’s some next-level shit going on around here, and I’m with that. But before Y’all get to beaming me up, there’s just a few things you should know. First off, you chose me, so you recognize the skills. And I want nobody calling me ‘son’ or ‘kid’ or ‘sport’ or nothing like that, cool?

Agent K: Cool, whatever you say, slick. But I need to tell you something about all your skills… [Elevator doors open revealing MIB’s massive headquarters] As of right now, they mean precisely ‘dick’. — MIB I Youtube

Have you ever ask yourself if you want to become a Manager? If your answer is affirmative, have you ever asked yourself why?

I often see people wanting to become managers or team leaders for the wrong reasons. I was one of them a long time ago before I realized that it was something that I didn’t want to do.

Funny thing about life is that to do something you just don’t need to want it.

Let’s demystify some of the crazy thoughts that people usually have about this role:

  1. Higher Salaries: Your salary as a Manager is not going to be much different from the pay you can get as a Senior Engineer. In fact, you might not even be on the top higher salaries in your team.
  2. Moar Power: People often get lost thinking that once you become a Manager, you automatically earned the authority to tell people what to do and when to do it, when in fact you get more responsibilities and less power.
  3. Hands-on Managers: To be the best football player you have to invest >100% of your time and effort. To be the best writer you have to invest >100% of your time and effort. To be the best manager? Well, you get where I am going with this. I’ve seen a large number of individuals through my career trying to execute as Hands-on Managers or CTOs, and in none of those cases, they built a great culture, mainly because they were limiting the capacity of their teams to create solutions on their own.
  4. Moar Visibility: You may be thinking that if you are “The Boss” you are the face of everything cool that your team does. This assumption is 5% true in the best case scenario, in reality, you will be putting out fires 24/7/365, and everything that goes wrong in your team will be your fault.

Now, that we cleared this out of our way, what are the right reasons to be a manager?

I usually answer this question with another question, why would anyone in the world want to become the president of the United States?

My unsolicited piece of advice?

  • Do it if you legitimately care about people
  • Do it if you want to help teams grow
  • Do it if you are willing to put >100% of your effort on ensuring people’s success
Rhommel Lamas
Engineering Manager

Rhommel is an Engineering Manager currently working [at] Cloudflare and an Angel Investor [at] Sydney Angels.