“When transitioning from an individual contributor role to a management role, you must ensure you have a servant leadership mindset.” – Henry Suryawirawan
In this episode, I interviewed Henry Suryawirawan, VP of Engineering at Flip, and we talked about the process of transitioning from individual contributor (IC) to management, and how engineers can deal with failures in their engineering career.
Here Are Some of the Key Points Discussed About Transitioning from an Individual Contributor to a Manager in Your Engineering Career:
- The roles of an individual contributor (ICs) and management are very different. In an IC role, you must be hands-on, build and deliver things, work in a team, and have the technical skill requirements for the role. A management role focuses more on working with and leading people, being responsible for direct reporting, and ensuring the work is done following the company’s goal. Remember that transitioning from an IC to a management role is not a promotion but an equal move from one role to another.
- Before you transition from an IC role to a management role, be sure that you are comfortable with working with people, dealing with ambiguity, a lot of contact switching, and dealing with conflict situations. Ensure you can communicate the intention of your leadership and the deliverables you need effectively. Having a servant leadership mindset means you are not only a manager to lead, but also to serve your team.
- When transitioning from management to an IC, ensure you understand the core roles and responsibilities you will have. Know that moving from a management role to an IC role is not a demotion. Do not try to mix the IC and management roles, but use the skills you learned to be better in your IC role.
- Working in a startup can be challenging because there is no real hierarchy and there are many problems that need solving. When working as a consultant, you advise the customers and need to show empathy toward their problems and offer them solutions. Working in a government position brings many challenges in the form of bureaucracy, especially when they deal with changing policy.
- Company culture is of utmost importance, and you must find a place where you will strive in your career. You must feel satisfied and fulfilled in your role. Working in a toxic environment will not lead you on a path that can bring you growth and satisfaction.
- When you experience failure in any form, know that it does not form part of your identity. They do not define you as a person or a failure. It is a stage in your life that you cannot control, but everyone must move through. If you feel like there is no way out, find someone in your friends, family, and network who will support you. Failures can be points in your life where you can take a pause, refresh, develop a new perspective of yourself, find where things went wrong, and find a way to ensure it will not happen again. Remember that failures are the natural progression of progress.
- Tech is full of possibilities, but it can be very intimidating because of the number of things you must continually learn about. You can even begin to suffer from impostor syndrome at times. It is natural, so be sure to be conscious and aware of it. Focus on the fundamentals and the foundations instead of the hypes.