Programmer to Manager – How to make the transition smooth?

Moving to a different role in your career is always exciting, but that doesn’t mean you can’t also have some self-doubt and anxiety. As a programmer, your responsibilities are more focused on your deliverables and some amount of collaboration with your team member. However, as a manager, your duties will look different. 

Therefore, in this blog, we break down some tips to make the transition from a developer to a manager smooth for you.

Six tips for transitioning from being a developer to a manager

Do it as a trial 

Moving from being a programmer to a manager can seem daunting, but it’s not necessarily a one-way street. With the right approach, you can transition safely using a trial period, and this allows you and your manager to assess if the new role suits you. 

It’s also beneficial to develop your soft skills during this time by mentoring a junior employee. This is an excellent opportunity to experience management and take responsibility for someone’s career growth. 

Working closely with your mentee enables you to evaluate your suitability for a management role without formal commitment. If your mentee responds positively to your mentorship style, it can be a strong sign that management is a good fit for you. Remember, this is a journey, and it’s okay to take your time to determine if this is the right path for you.

Understand the change in perspective needed 

As someone who understands the ins and outs of software development, you know that producing quality code and delivering outstanding products requires the collective efforts of your team. 

As a manager, your role is pivotal in ensuring that your team has all the resources needed to succeed. While hands-on work may still be necessary, a significant part of your job involves managing people and projects. This could mean supporting team members who may be going through a tough time or encouraging someone contemplating leaving to stay. 

It’s a challenging experience that requires emotional investment, but it’s crucial to remember that your efforts play a significant role in keeping your team happy and productive. Remember, as a manager, you’re not just overseeing a team but also responsible for their well-being and success.

Prioritize communications skills 

In today’s hybrid or remote work environment, your communication skills are more essential than ever, especially when it comes to writing. As a manager, you spend a significant amount of time typing away on your keyboard, exchanging and managing information. To sharpen your communication skills, it’s essential to set clear, measurable goals around how you respond to emails and messages.

As a new manager, you’ll quickly learn that a timely response is often more valuable than a delayed one that’s been meticulously crafted. Finding the right balance between timely and thoughtful communication is critical to effective management.

Additionally, as a manager, you must be more empathetic in your communication. This skill isn’t merely about language; it’s also about the tone you use and the words you choose while communicating. It will allow your team to be more transparent with you and aid in a more cooperative team spirit.

Accept that you will be coding less 

As a manager, it can be a real challenge to balance your time between overseeing your team’s work and getting your hands dirty with coding. While you have a range of important tasks to manage, such as setting project goals and managing resources, these duties can often limit the time you have available for coding, which can be frustrating.

In addition to these managerial tasks, you may also find yourself supporting and mentoring your team members, engaging in strategic planning activities, communicating and collaborating with stakeholders, and managing administrative tasks. All of these activities require your presence and engagement, which can further limit your time for coding.

It’s important to remember that the amount of coding you do as a manager can vary depending on the size of your team, the nature of your projects, and the structure of your organization. In some cases, you may still have opportunities to contribute code on a limited basis, particularly in smaller teams or more hands-on managerial roles.

Even though you may code less as a manager, your technical expertise and understanding of the development process remain incredibly valuable in decision-making, architectural discussions, and providing technical guidance to your team. So, don’t worry, you may not be coding as much as you used to, but your contributions are still significant and appreciated by your team.

Learn to trust in your team more 

Establishing trust within your team is crucial as a manager. It’s essential to provide your team members with clear instructions and expectations while assigning tasks based on their skills and expertise.

Ensuring open communication is key, and creating a safe space where team members can speak freely without fear of judgment or backlash is essential. Because remember when you were a developer and maybe someone didn’t trust you enough or when you felt micromanaged? Yeah, you don’t want your team members to feel that way. 

Giving them the freedom to make decisions and solve problems within their areas of responsibility is essential too. Also, don’t forget to celebrate their accomplishments, support professional development, and practice transparency are all vital components to building trust. 

Remember that trust takes time to develop, so lead by example and show your team members that you trust their abilities and support their professional growth. With these efforts, you can create a positive and productive work environment for your team to thrive.

Become better at time management  

As a manager, managing your time effectively can be a challenging task. Unlike individual contributors, you may have limited time to focus on creative problem-solving. This means you must protect your team members’ time by minimizing unnecessary meetings or interruptions. To ensure maximum productivity, many managers schedule all internal meetings on a specific day of the week. As a great manager, you can get into the “flow” state quickly. By working in shorter blocks of time, usually around 20 minutes, and focusing on one task at a time, you can achieve this. By switching between tasks without losing productivity, your team can benefit from a positive and productive work environment.

Take the leap of faith from programmer to manager!

A new role can be daunting, but if that’s what you want, then it can also be an exhilarating experience. Remember always to keep learning and focus on your team; you will know how you are doing as a manager in how they collaborate with you and each other and how openly they communicate with you. It can be tricky initially, but by improving, you can surely be successful. 

While thinking about how to be a better manager, you can also include tools that can help you and your team. A platform that allows engineering teams to maximize productivity and reduce stress will be a game changer for your new team. Typo can be your friend in this process; you can schedule a demo to learn how!