Event Loops for Managers
Transitioning from individual contributor to a management position
What is the one thing you must do as a manager? And the second one? Third?
I'm considering you already know what is expected from you as a Manager, but are you actually making some room to do the management work?
When I transitioned from IC (Individual contributor) to be a manager, I felt in the same trap most of the people doing this transition do, which is not doing the full transition.
I continued to spend a large amount of time on code, both writing and reviewing and it was very easy to just not do all the management work I was supposed to be doing.
It's okay. I noticed this is far more common than it should be, so you are not alone if it's happening to you. — But there is a way out.
Last year I found something that would be incredibly valuable for me at that time, which David Loftesness called Engineering Manager Event Loop.
The idea is simple: You build a small matrix to focus on your work as a manager.
This works as a loop. It drives you daily to make sure you are not going off the tracks on your duties. If you are like me, that prefer to have processes for everything, this works like a charm.
On the Y-axis, fill categories of work you are expected to do.
In my case, as an engineering manager, the categories People, Projects, Processes are areas that I need to pay attention to.
Also, make sure to add an extra item that is related to yourself. Use it to make sure you're paying attention to tasks for self-improvement.
Are you reaching your own goals?
Did you learn anything useful last week?
Did you teach anything to anyone last week?
On the X-axis, set the timeframe for each interaction. As David suggested, I also prefer using Daily, Weekly, and Monthly to get started but you can also work with Quarters.
Commit to it
Now, this will only work if you are committed to checking it daily. As a manager, you know how easy it is to lose control over your calendar, so make sure to block time in your agenda.
And that's it. Really.
By creating the habit of checking on your core activities every day, you'll start working on autopilot when it comes to processes. By doing that you'll make some room to be always improving as one of the tasks is to review your past work and plan for the work ahead.
Ah, and don't worry. The transition from IC to manager is difficult for everyone. Just so make sure you're learning and having fun during this process.
I hope this helps you in any way.