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Once I was full-time managing, I had no shiny distractions and was able to spend my showers focusing on how to be a better manager. And once I was 50%+ focused, well, I haven’t become a “superstar 10x manager” yet, but I quickly stopped being 0.1x.
This blog post is for engineering managers who find themselves managing very senior engineers and want direction on how to be more effective. Read on for a compassionate dose of reality and actionable advice.
As manager you need to give your report tractable work in the first week. Managers not being ready for a report to start is the number one reason people end up normalizing underperformance, because they had nothing meaningful to do. If a manager describes a report as not having initiative in the first couple weeks it’s a red flag - it’s the manager’s job to provide new hires with clear paths to contribute immediately.
“Why did you decide to become a manager?” It’s a question that gets asked a lot, in job interviews, 1x1s, and plain old casual conversation. I ask this question a lot, and I am often frustrated (or bored) by the answers I hear back.
We all have a finite amount of time to live, and within that mortal countdown we devote some fraction towards our work. Even for the most career-focused, your life will be filled by many things beyond work: supporting your family, children, exercise, being a mentor and a mentee, hobbies, and so the list goes on. This is the sign of a rich life, but one side-effect is that time to do your work will become increasingly scarce as you get deeper into your career.