September 6, 2022

Key Ingredients for Coding

By Itay Pahima, VP of R&D

There is No “I” in Team

Inspire. Empower. Trust. Honesty. These four legs are foundational for a strong, successful team. You might have thought that what makes a great team is comprised of coding ninjas. A team of experienced engineers is obviously helpful, but the whole only becomes greater than the sum of its parts when you have a team with these four strong legs.

You know that feeling. That rush of adrenaline and sense of accomplishment. You’ve spent hours thinking, writing, testing and reconfiguring, but then you reach that moment. You did it. You’ve built [insert accomplishment], and it works. And it feels so good. Problem solving euphoria is legit.

I spent years preparing to be a software engineer. I studied in university, took on projects, and hit the ground running. I took on challenges because I knew that by doing the work I would learn and grow. There is no better way.

Landing the Dream Job

I crept up the ladder from junior developer to more senior positions and eventually VP of R&D. Had my years of hard work in the rat race finally paid off?

I had made it and knew everything that I needed to know. After all, I came with years of experience.

But hold on, how did my workload just doubled? I was still doing my previous job, but I was also spending hours managing a team! The rush of solving a technical problem had been replaced by sheer exhaustion.

Everything that I had learned over the years had nothing to do with being a manager. It wasn’t just a new position; it was a whole new field! 

Back to School

My professional education had only just begun.

Whether you are aspiring to be a manager of software engineers or recently landed the job, this is for you. I have learned several lessons that were not covered in school or through spending years knee deep in code.

I define success as getting the job done correctly and efficiently, but most importantly, with my team.

Employee retention is critical to my success and the company’s success. The fact that I measure employee retention in years rather than months is my greatest accomplishment as a manager. Here’s what I’ve learnt along the way.

  • Trust is critical. Your team will step up to the plate if you believe in them. How do you demonstrate trust? Give them more responsibility. When I started as a manager, I did research and came up with an architecture plan and assignments for the team. I realized that the way for developers to have work satisfaction was to wrestle with the challenges on their own and experience the rush of solving a solution with so many factors to consider on their own.
  • Empowerment. I empower my team members to own the process from beginning to end now. As a result, they have learned, grown, and expanded their skillsets and portfolios. And they are still here at years later.
  • Breathe. Be kind to yourself. Realize that management is its own field of study. Of course you have what to learn! Take time to read, learn and speak to colleagues who have made the transition. You are not alone in finding yourself in a work transition that requires you to learn. Embrace the opportunity.
  • You can’t do it all. Nobody can.
  • You are not more efficient than a whole team. Learn to delegate
  • Your job is to help the team learn, grow and succeed. Their success is your success. The proof is in the pudding. Focus on allowing your team to grow both individually and collectively.
  • Your words are heard differently when you are a codeveloper from when you are a manager. Be aware, thoughtful and sensitive when delivering direction and feedback. Get to know your team. You will get to know strengths, areas for improvement and what motivates people.
  • Communication. Applaud good work and only criticize in a way that will encourage and motivate. The best way to encourage growth is for your team to learn with you and not just from you.

Your work satisfaction experience will be different. As a developer when everything clicks into place and runs smoothly you are golden. As a manager, it is more difficult to see your impact and achievements.

While of course product is still a priority, my most important focus is on people.

Remember the rush I used to feel when problem solving code? Now I still get a rush when problems are solved, and a challenge is overcome. But nowadays I share that exhilaration with my team.

How about you? How have you made the transition from developer to manager of developers?

About Author: Itay Pahima, VP of R&D

Itay brings broad experience with cutting edge technologies across an array of business scenarios, from native applications to high-scale cloud apps serving enterprise customers worldwide.

Itay is skilled in databases, full-stack development, web applications, front-end development and agile methodologies. He is a strong product management professional with a BS in Computer Software Engineering from Jerusalem College of Engineering.

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