Chapter 37. A Disclosure

My management career began with a misunderstanding.

“Rands, you’re doing a great job on tools development, and I’d really like you to Lead the effort.”

It sounded liked your standard professional compliment. Atta boy! Go run with it! Problem was, I didn’t hear the capital L.

Lead is what my manager had said. Not lead, but Lead. He asked poorly and without definition and specifics, but he did ask. He was subsequently baffled two months later when I said, “I don’t think I can finish this by next month, I need more time.”

Him: “Why don’t you hire another engineer?”

Me: “Wait, I can do that?”

I see three possible situations whereby you might become a manager:

  • You decide. “I believe I am going to be a better manager than engineer. I choose management.”

  • You evolve. This is what happened to me. Essentially, a series of small decisions and actions where, at the end, you end up being a manager.

  • You have no choice. “You. Manage this team. Go.”

Whether you get to choose or not, there are aspects of management that you need to understand.

Management Is a Total Career Restart

Now, if you’re evolving into the career, this will be less obvious, but if management just landed in your lap, realize that while you’re in the same game, it’s a totally new game board and you’re at square one. You will use the skills that made you a great engineer, but there’s an entirely new set of skills you need to acquire and refine.

This sensation will appear at the end of the day when you ask, “What did ...

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