From Java Developer to Manager – What are the Steps?
So, you’ve been in your Java Developer role for a while and the time has come where your thoughts start to turn to Management opportunities and if this is right for you. So, what comes next?
Firstly, consider if this is truly the path you want to take. Management is different (simply put), and can require quite a change in mindset as well as change in responsibility. For starters, you’ll have less technical work and more meetings. Plus there may be elements of office politics featuring in your new role, and also a team of varied personalities to be managed. However, if you relish the challenge and enjoy seeing a project through from conception to final outcome, this could be the role for you.
Once you’ve decided this is the direction you want to go in, the next step is to let your own manager know you’re interested in a career in management. Ask for work to help you grow and to demonstrate that you’re more than ready. Also be proactive in your approach; look at where you can showcase your excellent Java skills as well as taking on project management responsibilities.
Now experience versus qualifications… Are you a qualified Project Manager? No? Not to worry – there are plenty of opportunities to train. But this also doesn’t need to be a barrier as many management greats will tell you that they didn’t start off on a management path; often the path found them. It also helps to have a broad understanding of the area that you’re managing, so couple that with common sense, great organisation and people skills, and you’re already a few steps ahead of the crowd.
Most importantly you need to be driven, self-motivated and not scared of putting yourself out there. The opportunities are there for the taking so start making your voice heard.
If you are thinking of taking on this new, rewarding challenge then here are some questions to ask before you do.
- Will the role be purely management?
Combining your technical expertise with your new management skills can be extremely rewarding and many people enjoy this as the next step from an all technical role. However, if the role is moving to a purely management-based role, will you miss having the hands-on exposure to the ever-evolving technology?
- How big is the team?
Leadership skills are needed whether it is a team of two or a team of twenty, but it may be best to start small. The extra work that comes with taking on a team will naturally pull you away from your own work if you are trying to balance java development and management.
- Do you have good people skills?
Leadership requires good people skills. Be honest with yourself and evaluate whether you have these skills, or whether they need developing. Being a manager will definitely put these skills to the test, so think about whether they need honing before stepping up into a leadership role.
- How established is the team you’ll be managing?
If you are moving up within a company to take on a team, you’ll perhaps know the answer to this question, but if you are going for a new role with a new company, ask how long the team have been working together. The dynamics within the team will possibly throw up different challenges that you may have to deal with.
Moving into a management role comes with a whole new set of challenges. Some rise to this challenge, while it is not for others. Management roles don’t suit everyone, but with the right approach and preparation, you can make the transition, if it is truly what you want.