I have been working as a programmer for about five years. I would like to move to a manager job. How do I make the jump from individual contributor to manager?
There are a number of things that you can do to begin positioning yourself for a manager’s job. These include cross-training on other department applications, volunteering for cross-department projects, take a leadership role on internal department activities, gain an understanding of important department processes, and begin acting like a manager.
This may seem like a lot to do, but each of these items will help you in a different way. Cross-training will widen your knowledge of internal company applications. Being involved in cross-department initiatives gives you exposure to people outside your department and may give you a taste of manager-level politics. Taking a leadership role on small internal projects allows you to practice your management craft while simultaneously showcasing your leadership abilities to those in a position to promote you. Gaining an understanding of department-wide processes will give you a wider perspective on the business of software development. Lastly, by acting like a manager, I mean dressing appropriately, mentoring junior staff members, meeting project deadlines, and other similar activities.
As a final thought, analyze as to whether you have the appropriate credentials to move to a management role. In particular, does your company require the completion of an internal management training program, an advanced college degree, and/or an industry specific certification to be eligible for a management position?
If you have any questions about your career in IT, please email me at eric@ManagerMechanics.com or find me on Twitter at @EricPBloom.
Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to grow.