Management is more about running a team than just meeting goals and shipping – Jeba Singh Emmanuel, Engineering Manager, LinkedIn

Greetings! Tell us about your background and your journey as a developer?

Hello!

I started my career as a SysAdmin and then moved on to SlideShare where I worked with Ruby on Rails and Javascript. This was the time when IE6 was on its way out, HTML5 early APIs were being adopted (I built a range slider using CSS because the HTML5 API was not implemented yet) and JQuery was still king of the frontend libraries. 

Fast forward a few years later I was involved in the Desktop rewrite of the Linkedin Feed on Ember. I started as a Staff Engineer on the team and transitioned over to Management.

How was your journey from coder to leader? 

It was organic. Management is more about running a team than just meeting goals and shipping. As a manager, you need to take an active interest in understanding what team members are interested in doing and their career aspirations, thinking of how the immediate work ties into the larger plans of the team and the company strategy and learning to measure progress in terms of things less tangible than shipped features or lines of code. 

Give us a sneak peek into your regular day at work and how do you regularly motivate yourself to work? 

Every day is different.  Some days are about planning and execution and some are about firefighting & making a difference during an on call shift. There are exciting days when you sit with your team to work through a complex technical or architectural problem. And there are some truly special days that you will always remember as those where you made a real difference. 

I still remember one of those special incidents, when an engineer was struggling and was on the verge of leaving the company. I was a new manager at the time and took the time to understand what was worrying that engineer. Turns out it was a simple matter of tweaking what was expected from the person so they didn’t have to work on a particular technology. It totally turned them around, they stayed with us and were an important part of shipping one of the projects we were working on at the time.

What was the biggest challenge as a manager and how you came out of it? 

There is a fine line between a manager who understands the technical problems the team is dealing with to help the team navigate obstacles and a manager who gets in the team’s way because s/he wants to be involved in everything. At some point, I realized I was becoming a bottleneck. I am now more selective about the areas I deep dive into.

What is the best advice that you can give as a manager? 

Listen. And listen a lot. There are still times that I find this difficult to do with the multitude of opinions in my own mind but the more I listen, the better I understand the motivations of the team and others.

What is the best advice that you can give to someone who is starting their journey as a manager? 

Managing can be very rewarding but may not be for everyone. Try out some of its responsibilities while working in your current role by talking to your manager and taking on some of their daily tasks. Find a mentor who is an experienced manager. You can ask them even the simplest of questions.

How can other coders learn more about you? 

I am at https://www.linkedin.com/in/graydot.

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