It’s a short step from managing a person or two to managing a whole team, but managing a team is more than just doing the job of managing the individuals. At this point, your job has changed. In fact, at every step beyond this level you will probably experience a totally different set of requirements and challenges. The hardest thing to prepare for as you advance in your career is the idea that you’re going to start doing totally different things. As much as you may want to believe that management is a natural progression of the skills you develop as a senior engineer, it’s really a whole new set of skills and challenges.
Here is the job description that I used for the role of managing a team, which I called “engineering lead”:
The engineering lead will spend less time writing code, but they still engage in small technical deliverables, such as bug fixes and small features, without blocking or slowing down the progress of their team. More than writing code, they hold responsibility for identifying bottlenecks in the process and roadblocks to success for their team and clearing these roadblocks.
The person who fills this role is expected to have a large impact on the success of [the organization] as a whole. In particular, leaders in this role are capable of identifying the most high-value projects and keeping their team focused on these projects. As part of keeping the team focused, the engineering lead will partner closely with the product lead to ...