Role of New Engineering Managers

A few months into their new position, engineering managers start agonizing how they hardly get time to do any technical work. They feel they would soon become redundant if they don’t start contributing in the technical areas.I get it, I’ve been there.I remember the constant assault on my self esteem when I was first promoted to be a manager. Most of the things that I had learned to get to that position were all of a sudden..umm…good-for-nothing. As if all my technical chops had implemented an IDisposable interface overnight. Sigh!

If you’re going through the same phase a) please know that you’re not alone, b) understand what has changed.Earlier, as an individual contributor, it was all about  you, you, and you. There were days when you wrote great code and then there were some when you didn’t. It was either 0 or 1. Team’s success depended on you, but you were still a lone warrior.

Anteelo design - How to Become an Engineering Manager | Ohio University

But nothing is permanent. The moment you become a manager, the focal point changes. It’s not about your individual contributions anymore. It’s all about the team now and the work they are producing. You become responsible for the team’s success and failure.

The metrics of your success changes from the world of binary to the world of grays. And when the playing field changes, you need to change your perspective instead of drowning yourself in the sea of self-doubt.

This is why it’s pointless to indulge in the thought of becoming redundant. You can’t become redundant, even if you wanted to, as your job’s responsibilities have changed. You are now akin to a maestro orchestrator who needs to ensure that your team plays the most memorable symphony.

Here’s an equation by the legendary Andy Grove from his book High Output Management to help you see your managerial impact.

A manager’s output = The output of his organization + The output of the neighboring organizations under his influence

The most significant implication here? Technical work done by the manager doesn’t surface in this equation.

So what does this equation mean for you?

Output of your organization > Your individual output

You are only recognized for the quality and speed of your team — your efforts become the sum total of all of your team’s effort. Your contributions are judged and remembered by how well your team is doing.

“A leader is as good as the team.”

10 Characteristics of an Outstanding Engineering Leader

To make sure you get the best out of the team, you have to manage it well. Set the vision. Set the expectations around the desired outcome. Have one on ones with your team members. Give feedback. Seek feedback. Help set the cadence for deliveries. Run effective meetings. Manage the sprints and the plan. Manage the stakeholders. Assess the outcomes. Celebrate. Reflect. And do everything possible that helps a manager manage a team well.

Did you see the time to program anywhere in the above list? Nope.

It’s not that you can’t code or you don’t want to code. Because if you want to you WILL find time for it. But your primary responsibility becomes uniformity of the codebase, making sure the code reviews happen, and the team releases a high quality software.

Output of neighboring organization > Your individual output

You would be a rockstar engineering manager if you were to merely focus on the first part of the equation. You could be even better if you were to cast the spell of your influence on other engineering groups within your organization. Also, your growth within the organization is predicated on this particular variable.

You could influence other groups in different ways. Review their architecture. Participate in their code reviews. Share knowledge about creating better teams and software with them. Run innovation initiatives. Participate in hiring. Suggest new process initiatives.

In a nutshell, make an effort to elevate the overall quality of your entire organization.

Managing a software team vs. being in a software team are totally different things. You need a new Swiss army knife of skills when you get promoted to be a manager. Thus, there isn’t any merit in agonizing over not getting the time to do the technical stuff as that wasn’t the reason you were promoted in the first place.


Getting fresh out of grad school, with a degree in design, it’s almost natural to feel like you’ve finally conquered the design degree. You might think, now that you’ve mastered designing, you can go ahead to soon become a star designer, working with magnificent clients and world-famous brands. It’s good to dream but it’s wrong to assume it’d come this easy. All of this is far from the truth. Reality hits hard when you join a designing company and begin working. You will come to realize that before considering yourself a complete designer, you need to understand the fundamentals and know the crucialities of designing. However it may sound, portfolios won’t help in your successful career, merely your skill and knowledge will lead to your success.

The things you learn at your first job and even in your further jobs will always be as crucial as your educational degree. Designing alone won’t suffice, teamwork, communications, client-skills, social aptitude, professional relations, all of these things play a significant role in your dream of becoming a successful designer.

Here are a few things you’d wish to have learnt in design school!


If you’re an artist, then why are soft skills required? Well, being a designer, having knowledge about design only is not quite enough. In order to do designing, you will first have to think, observe and articulate your ideas. You will be required to have justifiable ideas and designs. If you won’t be able to answer and explain the why’s of your choices to your clients, then you’d have to say goodbye to client-satisfaction. If you don’t have answers, then you won’t be able persuade your clients, leading to the crashing of your plans and ideas. Furthermore, you have to manage your time, communicate with your seniors and interact with your teammates, maintaining a cordial relation with everyone. Hence, you need to make sure of acquiring soft skills before you jump onto your plans further. 


Managing multiple clients is not at all an easy job, it gets harder as you grow along the way. It’s not to scare you, rather, it’s here to prepare you. You must follow one rule of thumb- LISTEN. Remember, hearing and listening are two different things and to manage clients effectively, you need to listen. If you listen properly, only then you’d be able to clearly understand clients’ views, needs and feedback. This also enables you to understand whether your idea has been bought or whether it turned out like a slam-dunk, straight up dead. Being capable of responding positively to your clients and being welcoming of their feedback, helps you in managing the clients better and get your work done in an efficient way.


Real world websites are for providing better results and not just for pleasing aesthetics. Designing pretty looks is not effective, if it’s not functional and dynamic. Hence, we aim at designing good-looking, yet functional websites that appeal to the target audience effectively. This helps you beat competition and let’s you stay on top. At the end of the day, we create and design websites to build a brand, take lead and drive audiences.


Designers are constantly required to come up with fresh ideas for brands and sometimes even are asked to bring multiple ideas to the plate, for the same project. It can be quite intense! And it’s a possibility that you might get designer’s block, so to break it you will have to sit down with your team members. Then you brainstorm various ideas, discuss and sift through those ideas. That’s how you quickly come up with fresh ideas and interesting design angles. It makes things a lot smoother.


Working a job requires completing tasks within tight deadlines, where you have to make close calls. It can be really consuming. The deadline pressure makes designers forget the essence of time and hence leaves designers caught in the web of little details and nuances. Therefore, it is important to be able to take a pause and have a good look at the whole picture, every design, detail and variation. To help create focus and effectiveness, ask yourself this- what is the purpose of my design? Where is the user and what do they require? How will my design provide sense to the user’s decisions? What are the technicalities?

Once you find the answers to these, you will be able to calmly get your work done.


Design school often asks you to design for a specific set of products and hence you end up with similar designs. Although, you learnt a lot but you weren’t challenged enough. You need to have that kind of challenge every now and then to jog your sense of style. You owe it yourself to find your own style and way of conducting your work. Your unique approach is what will get you up that success ladder, it will make you stand out in the crowd.

Here’s the path to your dreams, become that star designer! It might feel lousy at times, having to go through a long process, but trust me, it is worth every second. 


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