Keeping Up Technical Chops As A Manager

Paradigm: You get promoted based on your expertise as an individual contributer. You need to give up your focus on your technical work and spend the time on managing and developing your team.

It’s a well worn cliche that many technical managers don’t get this and I catch myself wondering if I’m able to walk the line. My response to this dilemma has always been to keep up with the technical aspects by coding, reading, and developing on my own free time. I rarely sign up for any deliverables on any project, and most of my contributions like code reviews, configuring tools, and writing up demos for internal training don’t put any project in harm’s way from my ability to deliver.

This applies to aspects beyond coding, because I find it even easier to fall back into project management/Scrum Master duties because I hate to see a project struggling with delivery. Probably 50% of the time I’m covering some PM role on a project with one or more of my developers either because a PM simply isn’t available or they don’t have time to really dedicate to a project.

With all these conflicting pulls on my time I hope I’ve been able to keep the focus on management and developing my team, but sometimes I wonder if I haven’t let some larger strategic things slip through the cracks because I let myself get pulled in too many directions.