Software engineering and web development codes are constantly updated with new trends, technologies, and techniques. This is why engineering managers should still code 30% of their time. Never lose touch with the code.
From Engineers to Managers
Software engineers spend all their working hours coding. It is what they do and it is everything that is expected of them. Those who exhibit people skills and have potential for leadership are sometimes promoted as team leaders, and eventually, to a managerial position. Once this happens, less and less time is spent coding, as managerial tasks take precedence over hands-on software development.
Being a manager entails a lot of corporate and administrative tasks, such as filing reports, attending meetings, and ensuring smooth-sailing day-to-day production of team members. This may take up most (if not all) of their working hours, and there is little (or none at all) time left to actually practice hands-on coding.
Because the software programming and web development industry is dynamic and ever-changing, there are steep consequences when the coding skills of a manager become rusty or outdated. The mutual professional trust and respect between managers and engineers may regress and become degraded. As mentioned, it is important for engineers to be confident that their managers know and understand what they are doing and going thru in their daly jobs and projects. When managers do not spend any time coding, how can they understand the various concerns that their engineering team may raise? When this happens, leadership, planning, strategizing, and actual production may suffer, eventually contradicting the whole reason behind the promotion of engineers to supervisory or managerial positions.
Keeping Up with Current Trends
As a manager, you need the knowledge and skills to facilitate decision-making and leadership. At the end of the day, you are responsible for the project’s outcome. Thus, knowing the current updates in the codebase is important. Just as product managers occasionally enroll in product management training to refresh their skills and gain new knowledge of what’s new in their field, allotting a third of your time for coding will let you track the changes that happen in the field of coding.
Making Time for Coding
So, your team loves and respects you for loving coding. But they still need you to be their leader. You are also responsible for your team’s production and morale. With administrative and external tasks piled on top of that, how then, do you make time?
Know when to say no. If your team has more projects than they can handle, they may feel overworked and burned out. Eventually, your schedules are dictated and finding free time for coding will be extremely difficult. This may be counterproductive to both you and your tech engineers.
Categorize your work, determine which tasks take priority, and delegate what you can! Delegating shows your team members that you trust them, and it frees up some time for you to practice coding. After you decide on your priority list, you can allocate a couple of hours or so for coding.
As an engineer-turned-manager, your love for coding will be your motivation to actually make time for it. Think of it as a hobby that you can not let yourself go without.
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Michelle Gonzalez has been writing for SMEs across the United States, Canada, Australia and the UK for the last five years. She is a highly-experienced blogger and SEO copywriter, writing business blogs for various industries such as marketing, law, health and wellness, beauty, and education, particularly on product management training such as those offered by ProductSchool.com.