dill & fennel

One Month as a Manager

At the beginning of November, with temperatures in the bay chilling, I began to manage a team of four. I’ve managed before in my career, but never an Engineering team. I began my new job with a good amount of fear but also hope. Between ample mentorship, and a lot of reading, I had a strong suspicion I would pick things up alright.

My team is four people currently, which feels like the right amount to be able to have regular 1:1s and plan out work. My friends who manage more than 6 people struggle regularly with weeks that mostly fill up with 1:1s and planning, with an annual marathon feedback session. I don’t know how long I can keep my team on the small side, but I don’t plan to hire unless we have a reason to do so. To hell with growth for growth sake, I think.

This month the biggest thing I’ve learned is how tricky it can be to sit back and listen, even when you want to pipe in with asolution. Luckily, my team is smarter and more thoughtful than I am often, so it’s not too hard.

I hope my schedule stays as open as I’ve attempted to keep it. I have not-so-fond memories of a previous job where it seemed like every manager went week to weekonlyattending meetings, and the common refrain was “I didn’t get a chance to work on that, I’ve been in meetings since last week.” Saying “no” seems very, very valuable.

Resources that have helped so far

My boss and a few friends sent me books to read as well as websites to check out, includingResilient Managementand an excellent series onCate.blog. I’d previously read or purchased a number ofmanagement bookson other friend’s recommendations, as well as taking classes throughout my career on the topic. Honestly, going to weekly therapy is also a boon.

I’m also rewatchingold Merlin Mann videoson attention and inbox management, as they feel even more pertinent today as a manager than they did as an IC.

So much of how to talk about people as a manager is not dissimilar from being a good partner or friend. Both involve active, empathetic listening, and a decentering of one’s own experiences to coach and mentor other folks instead of just waiting for a chance to tell our own stories. I for sure have a long way to go in all regards as both an woman and a manager, but I feel supported.

Here’s to a whole new career as a leader!